Color is arguably the most important part of an image when retouching. While Cleanup and Dodge & Burn are both important skills, the overall color can make or break an image even before any detail work is done. Photoshop has its place for color manipulation but, whenever possible, I prefer to work with Capture One Pro 9 to apply a grade to a set of images. My main reasoning for this is because there is so much more maneurverability while working with a RAW file rather than an exported TIFF or PSD.
Step 1: Determine mood and color harmonies
The first step into applying a color grade to a photo is to figure out the proper color harmonies that enhance the photo while bringing out the desired mood. For this photo, the photographer, James Barnes, told me that he had his color inspiration from old, run down swimming pools and wanted to name it “Chlorinated”. He did a very good job getting the color done in the camera but I came up with a color scheme that enhanced the base color to take his shot to the next level.
Step 2: Make adjustments in The Color Balance Tool
To get the final colored photo, the first tool I jump to in Capture One Pro 9 is the Color Balance tool. This is because I can separately adjust the hue, saturation and luminosity of the highlights, midtones, and shadows. Since this tool is so versatile, it’s easy to manipulate the color of a photo to be more color correct or to have a color grade applied. For this specific photo, I added blue and increased the luminosity in the shadows, then added yellow into both the midtones and highlights. The reason I added yellow was to make the blue into the green tone that I wanted from the color palette.
Step 3: Fix layers in the Local Adjustments Tool
With the majority of the color work done, there needs to be some selective adjustments to pull the color palette together. The Local Adjustments panel in Capture One Pro 9 is an amazing feature for taking care of these changes – and it is so easy to use. To fix the little areas of color that weren’t complying with the chosen colors, I would make a new layer, mask in the problem area, and make the adjustment. In this photo, I used Local Adjustments in three areas:
I darkened and removed some red from the natural skin color in the area around her ear, added some purple to her lips, and removed red as well as added blue to her hair around the dark edges of the shot. All of this was made extremely simple with the help of the Local Adjustments panel.
The final touch
To complete the picture, the only additional color work I did in Photoshop was the purple tones on the eyelids, otherwise all of the color toning was done completely in Capture One Pro 9. To get the final image from the color toned image, I used healing techniques as well as Dodge & Burn to remove distractions.
And that’s it! The colors of the picture have been improved significantly by the use of Capture One Pro 9. Have a look at the final result and make your own judgement:
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Jordan Hartley is a Canadian fashion and beauty retoucher based out of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Having been mostly self-taught, Jordan strives to educate young retouchers and aid in their learning. Check out more of his work at www.instagram.com/jordanhartleyretouch or www.jordanhartley.ca