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How to Use The Teal and Orange Look to Color Grade Photos Using Lightroom Classic

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Read Time: 6 min

If you follow any travel photographers or videographers on social media, or watch television, it won't take much scrolling until you see the orange and teal look in action. You'll see it in travel photography, particularly for perfectly balanced oceanside photos.

In this tutorial, you'll learn how to create the orange and teal look in Adobe Lightroom and apply it to your photos.

The Orange and Teal Look

I'll bet you've seen the orange and teal look in action many times, but have you stopped to consider how it works? Orange and blue are "complementary" colors: it feels natural and visually appealing to pair these colors together, so it's no wonder that this tint combo is popular.

Let's start by studying a sample image. In the photo below, notice that:

  • The water, particularly in the foreground, is more teal than blue. 
  • Notice in the sky, there's an almost warming tint to the clouds that breaks from the blue sky surrounding it.
  • In the shadow areas in the rocks, the tone curve is flattened and they're slightly tinted blue.
Orange and blue exampleOrange and blue exampleOrange and blue example
The orange and teal look is easy to spot in this photo. (Image source: Envato Elements)

With our sample image in mind, here are three Lightroom adjustments that create the orange and teal look:

  • Highlights, typically tinted with with orange
  • Shadows, adding blue (which later shifts to teal) to the shadows creates the perfect complement to warm skin tones
  • Blue hue shift to teal, shifted from a neutral blue with an additional green tinting, ultimately replaces blue with teal

Lightroom makes it easy to apply all of these adjustments. Read on to learn how to apply it to your favorite images.

Color wheel orange and blueColor wheel orange and blueColor wheel orange and blue
Directly facing each other on the color wheel, orange and blue's complementary nature is part of the reason orange and teal is so appealing.

How to Create the Orange and Teal Look in Photos With Lightroom Classic

Now that we've defined the orange and teal look, let's create it in Adobe Lightroom.

I've selected an image from my library and already corrected it to a neutral state. This gets the image to a balanced and realistic look, ready for creative adjustments like orange and teal. If you're learning how to do corrections, we've included some links to more tutorials at the bottom of this one. 

1. Shift Blue to Teal

Let's start off by shifting our hues. Because we've only corrected the image so far, the blues are still neutral and true to their real life rendering.

Lightroom orange and teal startingLightroom orange and teal startingLightroom orange and teal starting
This image is already corrected and ready to style creatively.

On the H/S/L panel, I'm going to start by adjusting two sliders. Find the Aqua and Blue sliders, and start to pull on them. The goal here is to shift blue toward the more teal range; moving Blue to the left and Aqua to the right creates the effect we're looking for.

Tinting blues LightroomTinting blues LightroomTinting blues Lightroom
Shift the Blue slider to the left and the Aqua slider to the right to shift the Blue Hue toward teal.

2. Add Orange to Highlights

Now, let's change gears and find the Color Grading panel. If you've worked with video editing software, you'll feel right at home with these controls.

Find the wheel labelled Highlights. The color wheel controls how we adjust the color for the specific wheel. In this case, that means adding hue to the Highlights regions of your image.

Start off by dragging the circle toward the orange part of the circle. In my example, this transforms the sky with more orange tints given that these are the lighter areas of the image.

Shift the center point of the Highlights wheel toward the orange range.

3. Add Blue to Shadows

Remember, part of the the orange and teal look relies on blue hues in the shadow tonal ranges. This creates a complementary balance to the orange we just added.

Find the Shadows wheel. Take the center point and drag it toward the blue part of the circle in the lower left.

Color grading shadowsColor grading shadowsColor grading shadows
Shift the center of the Shadows wheel toward the blue part of the circle.

4. Add Vibrance

To really finish up your orange-and-teal look, it helps to turn up the Vibrance slider. In the example below, I've increased this to really emphasize the teal tones in the water. The sky has just enough orange to counter balance my image and embody the orange and teal look.

Most of the fun in this process is experimentation. There's no perfect way to apply adjustments. Try more or less orange, tinting your blues more heavily, and more.

up vibranceup vibranceup vibrance
Increase the Vibrance slider to emphasize the color adjustments we've already made.

How To Save The Orange And Teal Look As A Preset

You spent time creating your orange and teal look. Now, let's save it so that it's reusable in the future.

In the Develop module, find the Presets panel on the left side of the app, and click on the button, and choose Create Preset.

Now, you'll see a somewhat intimidating menu with endless check boxes. The purpose of this screen is to choose what adjustments you want to include as part of your Lightroom preset. In our example, I'd recommend checking Color and Color Grading. Give your preset a name, and click Create to save it.

Create preset Adobe LightroomCreate preset Adobe LightroomCreate preset Adobe Lightroom
Leave only the sliders and controls you adjusted ticked on this menu.

Now, your preset is reusable. Just click on the name on the Presets panel to apply it to the active image.

Try creating many versions of the same basic orange and teal look. Experiment with the amount of adjustments in each of the three factors, and save presets for each one.

More Orange and Teal Presets

This tutorial showed you how to create your orange and teal look. If you want to borrow from others, and gain inspiration in the process, the best option is to use Lightroom presets. These already have the look built for you, and you can apply them with just one click. Best of all, you can watch the sliders and adjustments move so that you can learn in the process. 

Get the best Lightroom presets on Envato Elements. For one flat rate, you can unlock every preset in the huge asset library. They're all tested and quality-controlled to ensure that your images will look fantastic. Here are a few of our favorite orange and teal presets from Envato Elements. They're all included!

Orange & Teal Lightroom Presets Vol. 2

Whether you use Lightroom Classic or Lightroom CC, this preset package has you covered. You've got 15 files you can use to test out the orange and teal look.

Orange Teal Lightroom Presets and LUTs

Who knew that there were 26 different ways to package an orange and teal look? Well, this preset pack proves it. Each preset is different but achieves a common look. Try them all out for variety.

Orange and Teal Lightroom Presets Desktop & Mobile

Our last selection of orange and teal presets definitely tilts toward orange-heavy looks. Perfect for sunwashed images at the beach, try out these eight presets.

Orange teal Lightroom presetsOrange teal Lightroom presetsOrange teal Lightroom presets

More Top Adobe Lightroom Resources

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