Quick Tips For Color Toning

When we look at photographs or images, we're usually drawn to a particular look. A lot of this can be attributed to color toning and the way photographers, artists, and filmmakers blend and adjust certain settings to culminate in a finished effect.

When we use post processing tools such as Photoshop and Lightroom, we're taking the raw digital image from the camera and we'll usually adjust it so that it fits a particular style.

A lot of photographers (I'm not one of them at the moment) sell Lightroom Presets that help take the hassle out of emulating certain looks and change the image for a specific environment to suit a beach backlit sunset or a green valley full of muted greens and blues.

The first element we want to look at when adjusting color is the overall tone of the image. Depending on how you shoot and the white balance of your image, you'll usually end up with a slightly warmer or slightly cooler image than what you're looking for.

Make sure to use white balance, color balance, and photo filter settings in Lightroom and Photoshop to adjust the overall hue or tone to fit what your desired outcome. An important point to keep in mind is to have an idea of what you want BEFORE you start color editing and even when you're shooting. This is essential to getting the desired photo at the end of the day. Of course, good lighting, a good model, and a good environment also go a long way in determining the color tone of a particular set of images.

From there, you'll want to make micro adjustments. Adjust the red tones, blue tones, desaturate those yellows. Each image is different so while you can do a batch edit on a number of images, you'll want to make these micro adjustments with the selective color tool, masking, or hue and saturation adjustment layers to create your desired effect.

Basic color toning for photography is really that simple. Don't overthink it but at the same time have an idea of where you want to go and what kind of style you'd like to emulate. We all start off somewhere in our photographic journey so don't stress about imitating or trying to emulate someone else's look before you create your own signature style. It takes time and practice like anything else but you’ll need to start somewhere!