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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The 25 Most Beautiful Black-And-White Movies

Wings Of Desire, Beauty And The Beast, Embrace Of The Serpent, Dead Man, Seven Samurai, The Seventh Seal, The Passion Of Joan Of Arc …

We’ve all got our favorite black-and-white films. Any top 10 or 25 list will surely leave some of our favorites out and start a debate – that’s well worth having. Doing the hard work of picking our tops and supporting our choices helps us be clearer about what we most appreciate, inspiring ideas for how we might incorporate those qualities in our own images and be better able to celebrate it with others. Preparing for this task is a pure pleasure. Consider immersing yourself in the wonderful world of black and white with classic movies.

Here are 5 lists of the most beautiful black-and-white movies. Enjoy!

Taste Of Cinema – The 25 Most Visually Stunning Black-and-White Movies of All Time

List Challenges – The 25 Most Visually Stunning Black-And-White Movies of All Time

IMDB – Most Beautiful Black And White Films (Post 1965)

Listal – The Most Beautiful Black And White Films

New York Film Academy – The Best Black & White Films In Cinematography

What are your favorite black-and-white movies?
Leave your recommendations in the comments.

Find more Color Theory inspiration from the movies here.
Explore my Black & White resources here.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

Understanding Wes Anderson’s Unforgettable Color Palettes In 10 Movies

Color Theory and Wes Anderson’s Style — Sad Characters in a Colorful World

Few directors use color as masterfully and idiosyncratically as Wes Anderson. In each movie and scene of individual movies, color sets the mood and tells you about the plot and character. Though he clearly understands and uses classic color theory, his use of color transcends aesthetic formulas and encodes content with complexity and nuance.

Watching his movies is both an education and an inspiration.

Read a detailed analysis of 10 movies here.
The Wes Anderson Color Palette: Bright Colors Meet Dark Subjects

How To Take Accidentally Wes Anderson Photos

Follow Wes Anderson on Instagram here.

Follow accidentallywesanderson on Instagram here.

Find more Color Theory inspiration from the movies here.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

How To Decode Color In Christopher Nolan’s Amazing Movie Inception

Consider how you can use color as a code to move viewers between images and/or sets of images. Christopher Nolan’s masterful use of color in his movie Inception will inspire you to new heights.

Inception moves between five levels of reality; waking, three levels of dream, and limbo, a plane of infinite subconscious that can be entered by traveling through the deepest dream level. The differences between each dream level’s color palette help viewers distinguish where characters are as they move between layers. Color becomes more than pleasing; it becomes content, a code to be decoded.

In the highest waking and lowest dreaming layers there is no consistent color palette; they have not been designed by the dream architect Ariadne. The three dream layers that have been designed have consistent palettes.

Dream layer one’s rainy exteriors are dominated by grays, dark blues, and blacks.

Dream layer two’s urban interiors are composed of warm oranges and browns.

Dream layer three’s snowy exteriors are rendered with bright whites and grays.

Understanding the use of color in Inception helps viewers orient and better understand this complex movie.

How many ways could you apply this principle in your images?

Find more Color Theory inspiration from the movies here.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

How Classic Movies Use Color To Tell Compelling Stories

Whether in painting, photography, or motion pictures, color theory is one of the most important elements in art theory.  Learn what colors mean and why and investigate the power of colour as this video answers the question “How can color tell a story?”

Find more Color Theory inspiration from the movies here.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

Amazing New Color Grade Feature in Photoshop – Adjustment Presets

“Discover the brand new “Adjustment Presets” with a new update to create and export your own color grading presets! This is game-changing as it allows you to create presets that are insanely customizable in every aspect since they are just a group of Adjustment Layers. In this tutorial, we will learn what Adjustment Presets are, how to create them from scratch, how to export and import different color grading styles, and finally, understand the limitations of the tool.”

Find more of Unmesh Dinda’s content here.
Learn more in my Color Adjusment resources.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

How To Make Day Look Like Night In Your Images

Because both analog film and digital image sensors are not as sensitive in low light as the human eye, night scenes recorded in natural light are typically underexposed to the point where little is visible. However, night scenes can be rendered with daylight.

"Day for night" is a set of cinematic techniques used to simulate the appearance of night while filming during the day. It's often used when it's too difficult or expensive to shoot at night, but it's sometimes selected deliberately because it offers special image qualities. It's not just technique; it's also an aesthetic.

The same techniques cinematographers employ can be used for still images.

Exposure

When shooting day for night, scenes are typically underexposed in-camera or darkened during post-production, reducing saturation and adding a blue tint – though some movies, like Mad Max: Fury Road, deliberately overexpose. There's more than one way to create the impression of night, and each one offers unique qualities.

ND filters are needed only for the brightest scenes or to prolong exposures to create motion blur.

Continue to use ETTR (expose to the right) but use it more cautiously; above all, don't clip highlights. This will offer you more latitude during post-processing. Avoid dramatic underexposure, which can crush shadows, flatten midtone contrast in ways that reduce flexibility during post-processing, and accentuate noise.

Very bright skies can disrupt the effect. If the sky isn't necessary in a composition, eliminate it. If it is, plan your exposure accordingly. Consider making a second, darker exposure for the sky.

Using HDR exposure techniques, even when a normal exposure wouldn't require them, will give you a variety of exposures for shadows and highlights to choose from or allow you to render a lower contrast combination that is more likely to produce convincing effects.

Lighting

Always consider the scene's light and modify your exposure and post-processing accordingly.


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11 Movies That Use Day For Night Plus An Inside Look At Nope’s Brilliance

“Day for night” is a set of cinematic techniques used to simulate the appearance of night while filming during the day. It’s often used when it’s too difficult or expensive to shoot at night, but it’s sometimes selected deliberately because it offers special image qualities. It’s not just technique, it’s also an aesthetic.

The same techniques cinematographers employ can be used for still images. If you’re called to explore these unique palettes, you’ll find lots of inspiration from the movies.

Some of the best examples of movies that use day for night include …

Dune 1 & 2
Nope
Tenet
Dunkirk
Interstellar
Mad Max: Fury Road
Pan’s Labyrinth
Castaway
Casablanca
Lawrence Of Arabia
Passion In The Desert

Stay tuned for details on how you too can use day for night techniques.

Find more Color Theory inspiration from the movies here.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

4 Movies That Showcase Zhang Yimou’s Brilliant Use Of One Color Dominance

Looking for some color inspiration? Try Zhang Yimou’s films. This director repeatedly uses one dominant color in a movie to saturate it with emotion and symbol.

Here are four of my favorites.

Raise The Red Lantern (red)

House Of Flying Daggers (green)

Hero (white)

Shadow (black)

Find more Color Theory inspiration from the movies here.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

10 Best Uses Of Color In Movies Of All Time

As this video shows, “Color is one of the most effective tools in a storyteller’s arsenal.”

When you’re choosing the colors in your still images, you can find limitless inspiration from color grading in movies. This is true for single images and for series or bodies of work. Color will not only make your images look more compelling but will also help you discover and communicate more with them.

Find more inspiration with these resources.

10 Movies With Amazing Color Schemes

50 Iconic Films and Their Color Palettes

Find more Color Theory inspiration from the movies here.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.