What In The World Is Color Grading – Why & How To Do It

Color grading can unify images of different subjects shot at different times and locations.

Correction Versus Grading

Many people use color correction and color grading interchangeably, but their intents are quite different, while both are post-production processes and often use the same tools. Color correction is an objective technical process where colors are adjusted to appear natural; color grading is a subjective artistic process where colors are enhanced to evoke time, atmosphere, physical sensations (like temperature), and/or emotions. Correction convinces minds (avoiding personal biases); grading provokes feelings (celebrating personal preferences).

Correct Before You Grade

For some (scientists, journalists, product photographers, and art reproduction), color correction is the first and last step. For others (artists, many fashion and portrait photographers), color correction is a necessary prelude to color grading. Producing a neutral base gets images ready for artistic effects. Clipped highlights and shadows, color casts, and too much or too little saturation can all get in the way of successfully color-grading images. Correction also produces consistency between multiple shots. You won’t need to customize the color grading for different images if they are first color-corrected. This can save a lot of time and confusion if you’re processing many images.

Things To Look For During Color Correction

1    Preserve shadow and highlight detail.

2    Remove color casts. Make neutrals truly neutral.

3    Set saturation neither too low nor too high.

      Monitor memory colors: skin, blue sky, green grass, etc.

Read more on 4 Ways To Achieve Neutrality.

Tools To Create Color Grades With

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1 Comment

  • Hugh Sheridan

    03.06.2024 at 05:33 Reply

    Thanks for insight, I have spent to much thought on colour correction and not enough time on grading. My first “love” is black and white, so, colour, (UK spelling), grading would give me a greater canvas to work on. I do feel that a range of colour can distract from an image, and in a sense, should be used only when appropriate. What’s the phrase: less is more. Thanks John Paul. regards Hugh.

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