Final Color Grade

Your images have been selected and it’s time to prepare them for print. Color grading will play a key role in getting the image print-ready. With the image open and selected in Lightroom, apply your desired preset (if it wasn’t already applied when the image was imported), and then make adjustments to the base tones. For the above image, we used the 11.a Soft Color (Import) preset found in the 00-10 Signature Portraiture folder, part of our latest Lightroom preset system. We then lifted the blacks using the 34b. Shadow Lift + (FILM) preset located under the 01-30 (B) Base Tones folder within the same preset system. Try to achieve balance and maintain some pure shadows as well as some pure highlights; otherwise, if the shadows or highlights are clipped, the detail will be lost, especially in print. This is fine if it’s a stylistic preference and it’s done intentionally, but it is something to be aware of when printing images.

Check your white balance and adjust as needed. Because we were on the beach prior to sunset in the above image, we decided to lean toward the warmer side with our white balance. We then added a radial filter to slightly darken the space around our couple and draw more attention to them. To add a touch more detail, we added a bit of contrast and clarity.

Once your settings are dialed in for a given scene, you can then sync the settings for the other images in that same scene so that the set will be cohesive. You may need to go in and make tiny adjustments to individual images, especially if you used a radial burn and included it in the sync, but otherwise you should be one step closer to going to print.