Colour grading – Natural light effect

This is a 4 step process to achieve a natural light, colour grading effect on your images.

  1. Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. Take the saturation down. Not too much unless you’re looking for a really dramatic effect (which is fine for some studio portraits but not for a “natural” look). About -15 to -20 is a good range.
  2. Curves. We’re going to colour the image using the individual red, green & blue curves. Being subtle is the key here. Maybe bring out the red in the highlights & slight ‘S’ curves in the green & blue but it can vary according to ones individual opinion.
  3. Levels. On the blue channel draw in the triangular markers slightly to bring back some blue in the shadows & reduce it in the highlights to bring back some warmth.
  4. Colour fill layer. Add a new solid colour fill layer & choose a gold colour (eg. d0a702). Change the blend mode to “hard light” & bring the opacity down to about 8%.

As ever, the final step is to sharpen the image using whatever sharpening method you prefer (unsharp mask, adjust sharpness, high pass filter etc.) The above image displays the before & after photographs.


ISO speeds

ISO measures the camera’s sensitivity to light. Doubling the ISO number, doubles the camera’s sensitivity to light. However, increasing the ISO also decreases the image quality (or increases the ‘noise’).

When would you increase ISO then? Increasing the ISO is invaluable when shooting hand-held in low light as it allows you to use a faster shutter speed & therefore, avoid camera shake. However, if you’re using a tripod this isn’t necessary & keeping the ISO setting at ISO 100 is usually the best option (the longer shutter speed will make up for the lack of light). Similarly, if you are using a flash, high ISO settings are not required (although increasing the ISO will increase the effective range of your flash).