Infographic stating color correction in Lightroom an overview

As a wedding photographer, your primary job is to document picture-perfect moments on your couple’s special day. No matter how amazing the day is, or how technically perfect you try to make your images, chances are when it’s time to edit your wedding photos, you will need to do some basic changes – like color-correcting and white balance – to many of them. Lightroom is our go-to software to help you edit your photos, no matter how little or how much editing is required, and in this blog, we teach you how to use it to do simple, classic color edits that will make you and your clients happy!

Simple Color Correction for Wedding Photos

Lightroom has many tools for photo color correction. You need to be in the Develop Module to begin editing your imported images. Once in the Develop Model, look for the Basic Panel to start editing! Here are three easy-to-use color correction tools in the Basic Panel that we love:

1. Temp & Tint Adjustments

Temp color correction panel
Images Courtesy of @jimmybuiphotography

Both the Temp (aka color temperature) and the Tint Sliders work on the White Balance of the image you are editing. The Temp slider adds or subtracts warmth to the photo, and the Tint bar changes the overall tone of the image, varying between green and pink. You can adjust Temp or Tint by sliding the bars according to your preference.

2. Dropper Tool

The Dropper Tool, also located in the White Balance section, lets you use the dropper to select an area of your image as the new neutral color reference. Lightroom then adjusts the rest of the photo according to your chosen color. It’s always a good idea to choose a light or white area, like a wedding dress or a groom’s white shirt, for reference.

3. Vibrance & Saturation

These tools can be found in the Presence section of the Basic Panel and are separate sliders that can affect the color of your photo. When editing your wedding photos, it’s a great idea to start with Vibrance as it’s a more gradual color adjustment than Saturation and thus more realistic. A little goes a long way with both sliders!

PRO TIP: Before you start color correction, it is best to have the image files in RAW format and not JPG. JPG files do not take color adjustments well and might compromise the quality of the images.

Advanced Color Correction for Wedding Photos

1. Tone Curves

Tone curves in Lightroom
Images Courtesy of @jimmybuiphotography

You will find the Tone Curve Panel beneath the Basic Panel in the Develop Module. Adjusting using the Tone Curve Panel gives you the freedom to adjust the full range of color tones in your photo as well as Highlights, Lights, Darks, and Shadows.

To change color in Lightroom using this tool in the latest version of Lightroom, you will see the word Adjust at the top of the curve. Next to Adjust are four colored circles – white, red, green, and blue. Click on the red, green, or blue circle to adjust that color within the image using the curve.

In a non-edited image, the curve is a diagonal line representing the tones in the entire picture. You will see the tones arranged from the darkest to the lightest from the bottom left to the upper right.

Tone curves can also be divided into shadows, dark and light midtones, and highlights. If you click on the icon that looks like a swoosh (it appears before the colored circles referenced above), you will be able to use Parametric Curves to adjust the highlights, lights, darks, and shadows of different areas. To do so you will have to drag the diagonal line up or down (aka adjust the curve). If you move the line above its previous position, you will make the image brighter. If you move it below the line then your image will become darker.

The Tone Curves section also has sliders. The sliders allow simple adjustments. Move the slider to the right to brighten the selected areas and to the left to darken them. This applies to the Highlights, Lights, Darks, and Shadows sliders.

2. Color Grading Advanced Color Correction

Color grading in Lightroom
Images Courtesy of @jimmybuiphotography

Adjusting images using Color Grading helps you correct the midtones, highlights, and shadows of a particular color that shows up in your image. In the latest version of Lightroom, Color Grading replaced Split Toning but essentially has the same (albeit more advanced) functionality. According to Adobe, use Color Grading to “apply a color tint to your image based on the brightness of the pixels: Lighter pixels can be tinted differently from darker ones. With Color Grading, you can also control your midtones.” If you want ultimate color control over your images, this advanced tool will get you there!

3. Camera Calibration Panel for Color Correction

Cameras from different manufacturers use different basic colors. One manufacturer might choose a specific type of blue as its reference blue. Another manufacturer might choose a darker shade of blue instead. Therefore, if you use different cameras to take photos of the same scene, the resulting image could have slightly different colors.

Lightroom has a Camera Calibration panel, which allows you to change your original camera color settings. Keep in mind that these changes affect the definition of the basic colors (RGB). Any changes in this panel will have a big effect on the colors of your image. Don’t make significant changes unless you are doing it for creative purposes.

The Camera Calibration panel has different sections. The more intuitive ones are the RGB sliders with Hue and Saturation adjustments. The Shadows slider controls the color tint of shadows, from green to magenta.

PRO TIP: Adobe changed Lightroom’s color definitions over time. In the Process section, you can open a drop-down menu. Here you can switch between the definitions that Adobe has made over the years.

4. HSL Panel for Individual Color Correction

HSL panel in Lightroom
Images Courtesy of @jimmybuiphotography

A good way to precisely color correct your image is by using the HSL panel. You can adjust colors independently without affecting the rest of the picture.

HSL stands for Hue (color shade), Saturation (color intensity), and Luminance (color brightness). These are the three factors you can control using this panel. Each slider has a preview of the effect it will have on the image. When you select the HSL panel, you can choose between two displays: HSL or Color. These are two different ways to show the same thing.

The HSL option shows all the colors. The Hue, Saturation, and Luminance appear in separate sections. You can also see them all at once if you select All, but then you will need to scroll up and down a lot, searching for the colors. The Color display option will show you the colors one by one.

In both the HSL and Color display option, you can adjust colors in two ways:

  • Sliders: You can choose a color and move its slider right or left depending on the effect you want. Each slider shows you a color gradient. What you set on the slider will define the corresponding color in the image you are editing. The Hue, Saturation, and Luminance sliders work similarly in that by moving the sliders to the right, you will increase the effect, and moving the sliders to the left, you will decrease the effect.
  • Adjust by Dragging: Another option is to Adjust the Hue by selecting an area within the photo you know you want to change. In the HSL section, each area (Hue, Saturation, Luminance) has a small ‘circle within a circle’ icon next to the word. Click on that icon to enable Adjust by Dragging in the Photo. Then click on your image precisely over the area you want to adjust and drag your cursor up or down. If the spot you selected has a single color, you will see one slider move. If the area has a mixture of colors, you will see their sliders moving all at once while you adjust.

Go Slow & Subtle to Avoid Unnatural Editing

Infographic stating go slow and subtle on color adjustments to keep it natural

Whether using Vibrance, Saturation, Tone Curves, Color Grading, or the HSL panel, the little changes you make produce strong effects in the final look. So start with subtle adjustments to avoid edits that may look unnatural. Try playing with the colors and observe the results after every edit that you make. This practice can immensely improve your editing skills.

We hope these tips on color correcting in Lightroom have been helpful. In our next blog, which will be the fourth and final in the post-production workflow series, we will be going over the process of exporting images and delivering them to your couples.

Further Read: Culling Images In Lightroom: A Step-By-Step Guide

Whether you are a beginner or an established wedding photographer, at ShootDotEdit, we aim to help you run your wedding photography business successfully. And one of the ways we do that is by providing professional color correction services. To learn more about how we can help your business, check out our pricing plan.

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