Colour grading is a strong technique that helps photographers enhance the colours to depict their visual story. Once colour grading has been applied to a photograph the entire aesthetics of it can change.
By altering the colours in an image, photographers can leverage colour psychology to drive home powerful messages such as using bright colours to set a vibrant tone or cold colours to deliver melancholy to the viewer.
There are several resources available on the internet that can help you practise the best colour grading techniques. In the meantime, we’ve narrowed down the list a little to make things easier for you.
1. Adobe Photoshop
The industry legend of photo editing software, Adobe Photoshop rose to become everyone’s favourite a long time ago and that consensus still holds even today. The reason most photographers find Photoshop challenging is due to all the tools you have to learn to use. But that’s also one of the reasons that make it so great.
For colour grading alone there’s more than one way to accomplish the feat – selective colour, curves and levels, and colour balance are all colour grading tools at your disposal.
2. Adobe Lightroom
Another cult favourite – Adobe Lightroom is great for photographers looking to play with colours on their images. Lightroom offers pre-made editing solutions to directly apply to your photography to achieve a flawless look.
Lightroom acts as a great tool for colour grading offering features such as the HSL panel, adjustment brush, the linear mask, and the radial gradient to make sure you end up with the photograph you envisioned.
GIMP is a free and professional photo editing software that acts as a perfect entry-level tool for colour grading. Using a variety of tools that GIMP has to offer such as colour exchange, gradient map, palettes, and curves tools you can get just the colour grading you were going for.
GIMP is an open-source software which means there’s absolutely no cost to using it. So even if you’re not keen on colour grading, play around with it to see what kind of results you can achieve.
4. Skylum Luminar
Skylum Luminar is popular amongst professional photo-editors and fortunately comes with the perk of paying a one-time fee rather than subscribing to regular payments.
Luminar offers top-tier tools like Develop, Denoise, Saturation/Vibrance, and Advanced Contrast to alter basic colour parameters and create an image that can convey a story through its colours.
5. Corel PaintShop Pro
PaintShop Pro is perfect for the novice photo-editor looking to achieve professional standards in colour grading. This software can automatically determine optimal levels of colour parameters and make the changes to give you a near-perfect result.
If you end up with a result you don’t like, you can always manually make changes to fine-tune the colours to set the mood and ambience of your image.
Photography is an artform where colours can be very influential in determining how the image is perceived. Adding more blue to the sky can make the day more lively or adding more green to that broccoli might almost make it look scrumptious (well – almost).
The use of filters on social media applications like Instagram is colour grading on a very small scale. To achieve more fascinating results, a photographer has got to use more advanced colour grading tools such as the ones we’ve listed in this article.
Playing with colours may be a photographer’s biggest superpower. Don’t let it go to waste by using sub-standard software that does nothing more than brighten a picture. Try out one or two of the above to find the best colour grading software for you, with which to paint a more colourful story for your viewer.
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