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Adjusting Color for Cinematic Lighting

Lesson 43 from: Cinematic Lighting for Portraiture

Chris Knight

Adjusting Color for Cinematic Lighting

Lesson 43 from: Cinematic Lighting for Portraiture

Chris Knight

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Lesson Info

43. Adjusting Color for Cinematic Lighting


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


What is Cinematic Lighting?


Motivated & Practical Lighting


5 Cinematic Lighting Tips


Low-Key & Upstage Lighting


Control Your Fill Lighting


Show Depth In Your Image


Pre-Production for Cinematic Lighting


Grip Tools: Clamps


Grip Tools: Apple Boxes, C-Stands & Grip Heads


Grip Tools: Pins & Portable Gear


Grip Tools: Scrims, Silks, Flags & Tape


Grip Tools: Wind and Haze Machines


Grip Tools: Unusual Tools


Grip Tools: Filters


Grip Tools: Q&A


Theater Shoot: Concept


Theater Shoot: Pre-Production Considerations


Theater Shoot: Lighting Gear


Theater Shoot: Motivated Lighting Considerations


Theater Shoot: Lighting Walkthrough


Theater Shoot: Capturing The 1st Shot


Theater Shoot: Hero Shot


Theater Shoot: Capturing In The Seats


Airstrip Shoot: Concept


Airstrip Shoot: Pre-Production Considerations


The Haircut: Location Specifics and Motivated Lighting


Working With Scrims On Location


The Haircut: Getting the Shot


The Haircut: Shooting Plates


Staggered Planes: Location Specifics and Motivated Lighting


Staggered Planes: Getting The Shot


Capturing Plates With Talent In Background


Airstrip: Environmental Portraits


Airstrip: Location Shooting Q&A


Using Plates to Create a Pano in Lightroom®


Transform Tool


Post-Processing 1st Theater Shot


Retouching Details in Photoshop®


Color Grading in Alien Skin Exposure X3


Post-Processing Theater Hero Shot in Photoshop®


Creating a Spotlight in Photoshop®


Adjusting Color for Cinematic Lighting


Post-Processing: The Haircut


Coloring the Sky and Removing Modern Building


Creating a Pano Using Plates in Photoshop®


Developing Cinematic Portraits in Lightroom®


Retouching Cinematic Portraits in Photoshop®


Color Grading Cinematic Portraits in Alien Skin


Lesson Info

Adjusting Color for Cinematic Lighting

We're gonna go back into Lightroom. Now I'm gonna take a look at this image right here. I really like the tones of this image as is, but take a look where it begins. Let's reset it, there we go, okay. So this image, that's not right, there we go, okay, this image looked quite a bit different where it began, quite a bit different. So we're gonna go into the develop module on this. It's pretty dark, but again it was about atmosphere in this particular case and I wanted to make sure, because I was dealing with a bright dress that was getting hit by a lot of direct light I want to make sure I exposed for, and I also know what the latitude of these files is. I know that you can push this file quite a bit more. Shot at ISO 640, so it's got some range in it. So the first thing that I'm gonna do here, as opposed to the other ones, is I'm actually gonna come in and mess with exposure first. So I've got my exposure, I can kinda see, if I zoom in here, I'm losing a bit of detail in here, especial...

ly on the skin, and I'm not a huge fan of that. So what I'm gonna do is try to equalize this image out a little bit, so let me double click on the blacks and the whites. That helps a little bit, it brought the whites down I think too much, but let's bring the highlights down, gets a little bit better, and bring the shadows up, I think that looks pretty good. This I think looks nice in terms of an overall tonal adjustment, but it loses a lot of the richness of the theater, I really like the other tones to it. I think this just looks kinda boring. So I was looking for a way that I could bring in like that more blueish color to the shadows, give me a little bit more of a purple feel to those tones. And so that is what I'm gonna do here. I'm gonna start by cooling the white balance down a little bit, but I have to really be aware of what that skin tone is looking like. I think it's a little bit too blue by the time I get here. So I think it's, this is about as close as I can get it. And this is a little bit cool for the overall image but you can see because we've gelled that light, it's helping kinda sell it somewhere in the middle. But I think that looks pretty good. Now a way that I will sometimes mess with color in Lightroom is by using this thing called Split Toning. And Split Toning can be pretty effective at color grading. It's really not so much about the manner in which you add color, it's more about what kind of color and how much color you add, is usually the greater issue, like which colors you choose. So because I have this yellow, this warm color, I'm gonna push the shadows into something closer to a blue. So I'm gonna use that very obvious choice of cinematic color grading of the blue and orange. And so I find that if you leave everything as is, and you just pick, like I'm just gonna pick the orange at random. I'm gonna turn the color up, obviously we can see orange in the highlights, right. And if I grab a blue and I increase the shadow, that's it zeroed out. But I don't think that ever gives me the control that I want so what I usually do is I take the balance and I push it way over to the right, all the way, like almost, if it's not all the way over, it's a little bit off the end. And that means I'm gonna use a whole lot less of my highlight color, this is a lot more dictated by the white balance. And what this is gonna do is it's gonna put a really nice blue color into just the smallest portion of my shadows, and it makes the skin like a lot more, need to do this, closer in believability to the final tones of the image. And so when I reset it, it's here, and now it's here. I have these really nice kind of blue color tones to the image and you can really push that up, you can obviously tweak it after the fact, like if you wanna kinda push it in more of that magenta realm, that more purpley realm, that works too. And then if you wanna kinda warm up the whole thing, you can do it here, or not. That's what I like about using this method. I think it's really, really cool. The reason I went with this blueish, purplish color is blue and orange is kind of the most obvious color grade that's used in movies, right, they use the blue and orange, very, very common to create that complement. The theater has these dark red, burgundy kind of looking seats. When you mix blue and burgundy, you get purple. So that's kinda why I pushed into a little bit more of a purplish blue range, because it played on the colors that were already there, and so it helped seal everything together without looking like a heavy-handed color grade. You look at the background lights, these things over here are orange. These are in that purplish color. I'm reinforcing the colors that are there to make the color grade more believable and more subtle and not feel like I'm just caking color on top of the image. And so that'd be how I would start getting the color going in Lightroom and then chances are I would probably finesse it significantly in Photoshop. I use Alien Skin for example to give me like a base color grade that's super normal. And then what I would usually do is do some fine color grading work with something like Luminance Masks, Channel Masks, or Blend If, I also have one of those here. I think we did it for photo week last year. I love Blend If, I think it's super, super cool. Just to kinda show you what this might look like, I'm gonna grab a really quick, quick color grade on this. I usually like to use some of the more subtle ones, something like, something like this maybe. See the before and after. As I mentioned before, I usually like to separate some of the color versus the tone on this because I like that level of control. But you can also come in and you can do it this way too. Looks pretty good, so just increase the saturation of the shadows and the highlights a little bit to give me that, which I think looks really nice. And obviously you can back that off a little bit, pretty happy with that. But what happens if you want to tweak this just a little bit more? I'm gonna show you the Blend If trick really quickly because it's a very useful way to color grade, and it's very quick, and it also is very easy to drag and drop across images. If you have images that look similar, same lighting, same environment, this works really well. You get a very specific mask without having to spend a whole lot of time refining it. So if you ever like use a Channel Mask or a Luminance Mask on an image, brought it into another image, you have to re-do it and it's a pain, this is way better. The way you pick color doesn't matter. I'm just gonna do a solid color fill, just to make this really obvious. If I were to change the blend mode on to this, something like color, it obviously makes the whole thing blue, right. Whatever, it's fine, everything's blue, not what I wanted to do. Make this full 100% opacity. What happens if you just want to put this to the shadows? This is where Blend If really, really comes into play. So you want to open up the blending options on your layer by double clicking on it. Have you ever seen this? The layer style, blending options, yada, yada, yada, down here is the Blend If. And we're paying attention to this bottom slider right here, the underlying layer, and what I'm gonna do is bring the color off the highlights. So this is the highlights, and I go (growls lightly) and now you can see exactly where the color is appearing. But this is too harsh, it's a harsh edge. Hold down Option on Mac or Alt on PC and it splits the slider. So you hold down Option and you click and drag off the slider and it splits it. And the split is the feather. And so now I have the feather roughly in place, change that blend mode back to color, lower the opacity, and this color can be anything you want. And it keeps it so that it's not affecting anything you don't want it to be, super, super cool. Same thing, I'm gonna do it on the highlights. I'm gonna do that opposite color, do the orange. Okay, oops, let me open up the Blend If. Where do I want it to be? Not on those shadows, that looks pretty good, feather it, Option, click, split it, change the blend mode to color, lower the opacity. Now what happens if you say, "Ah you know I really like that "but I don't want it to be on the whitest stuff, "I just want it to be a little bit more "under the skin tone." Great thing about a Blend If, you can feather it the other direction too. And now it's just on the mid tones. And so that'll allow you to just target the skin tone if you want it to be, or not the super bright highlights. Turn it down just a little bit more. There we go, now it's kind of off the dress and it's gonna be more on the skin. See that, cool right? Blend If is crazy cool. And so this gives you just a whole lot more flexibility in what you end up doing with your color grade. And the great thing is, if you have an image that's similar, you just drag it right across because it's based on value, not the image. And so the whole thing translates really beautifully. All right, so those are just my quick little tips and tricks to kinda get us going with this particular set of images. We've looked at content aware fills, stitching the panoramas together, a few little clean up things, some basic color and tonal grading options, and some more advanced color and tonal grading options. When we get into the air field shoot, I'm actually gonna take that panorama stuff and ramp it up a notch. We're actually going to merge multiple panoramas together and we're gonna play around a little bit with some other color grading and tonal different things that we can do.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Chris Knight - Cinematic Lighting for Portraiture Grip Quick Reference Guide

Ratings and Reviews

Bruce Walker

This course is simply terrific, and I highly recommend it. Firstly it arrived at the perfect time for me as I am soon to do a studio shoot very much in keeping with a cinematic or theatrical aesthetic. Secondly it's taught by Chris Knight who I swear is like a long-lost twin brother. :-) There are so many parallels in the way he thinks and works to my own style. So I avidly watched this as soon as it was available for anytime streaming. This is the first time I have made extensive use of the CL iPhone app, btw, and I love how it pretty much enabled me to seamlessly switch back and forth from desktop viewing to my iPad that I carry around the house during the day. I was able to make coffee and still carry on taking in the course, uninterrupted. The content is fantastic, delivered succinctly yet entertainingly. Some material and ideas are already in my repertoire and were reinforced and validated by Chris' demonstrations. But he also introduced a lot of ideas and methods new to me and very welcome. I was particularly glad to see how practical it is to stitch a series of tripod shots into a wide pano. I have been afraid to try that but I will now be using that in my next shoot, for sure. As alway, his post production practices revealed all kinds of tips about Lightroom and Photoshop I didn't know. Negatives. The volume level mastering is iffy. It started out at a decent level then midway through one of the early lessons dropped so much I had to turn up my sound system to compensate. And as I write this one lesson (34) is missing and in its place was a duplicate of the next lesson (35). I expect CL will have that fixed shortly though (I sent support a note).

Jeph DeLorme

One of the best classes I have viewed at Creative Live. Definitely worth the investment of time and money. The pace of the class allows you to learn extra tips and tricks throughout the process. Great instructor, highly recommend this class to anyone looking to step up their creative game.

a Creativelive Student

excellent class in all regards. outstanding instructor with experience in complicated cinematic shoots but who also is willing to thoroughly cover the basic nuts and bolts. i wish all creative live classes were of this quality.

Student Work