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How to: Creative Colour Adjustment Curves in Lightroom


Many people are familiar with using curves for adjusting contrast and tonal values, but we can also adjust colour with curves in a very nice way. By selectively adjusting the RGB channels we can quickly emphasize or de-emphasize colour and take more control of how it appears. This isn't colour-correction: we're not making pictures appear neutral. Instead, we're going to use colour to add mood to a scene. In this tutorial, you'll learn how to creatively and expressively adjust colour with Tone Curves in Lightroom.

Luxury car on rural road
Before a colour adjustment

In our example, however, we do start with a colour-corrected, normalized image, as above. The picture looks fine: contrast is good, we've adjusted the white balance to a neutral point, and there are no big pre-exisiting colour casts in the image. Evaluating a "not-to-anything" image lets us decide what aspects of the picture we want to bring out with colour.

Check out the video to see where we go with this image!

Colour is a powerful expressive tool when used with care. Take caution, though, colour can also overpower all the other aspects of a photograph. Controlling and adjusting the colour in your image is a delicate balance. When adding colour effects to your images you want to avoid simply washing the whole image with your colour of choice and instead apply the adjustment purposefully and selectively.

One Click Creative Color Adjustments

If you don't want to make your own color adjustments with the tone curve, or if you want a repeatable starting place, you can try out Adobe Lightroom presets.

Envato Elements is an all-you-can-download service, including graphics, stock photos, print templates and more. That also includes an incredible selection of Lightroom presets! With Elements, you have unlimited access to all of the Lightroom presets. Let's take a quick look at three of the preset packs included with Envato Elements.

Prestalgia - 25 Retro Lightroom Presets

Sample the best that Elements has to offer by trying out the Prestalgia pack: 25 different looks that you can apply with a single click. These looks make heavy use of tone curve adjustments to apply creative changes to contrast and color settings. Use with a fade for fine control.

Prestalgia Lightroom Presets

Scarlet Fantasy Presets

If you're a fine art or fashion photographer, Scarlet Fantasy Presets may quickly find a way into your workflow. There's something about the toning and contrast adjustments that feel tailor-made for a dramatic photo. Try out the 16 different looks in this pack, all included as a part of an Elements subscription.

Scarlet Fantasy Presets

Night Photo Lightroom Presets

The 20 unique presets in Night Photo are perfect for bringing your night photography to life. The combination of contrast, tone curves, and color adjustment can take your images and really bring out that nightlife feeling.

Night Photo Lightroom Presets

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