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5 Common Lightroom Color Grading Mistakes, and How to Fix Them

Adobe Lightroom is a powerful tool for editing your photos, and one of the new features you can use is the color grading wheel. Until now, you could only use split toning—which was helpful for highlights and shadows but not so much for midtones.

When used properly, the color grading wheels on Lightroom are a hidden gem for getting better color in your images. However, it’s easy to overdo things if you’re unfamiliar with the tools.

So, what are the most common color grading mistakes in Adobe Lightroom? and how can you fix them? let’s find out.

What are the biggest Lightroom color grading mistakes?

Before we look at how you can fix the most common mistakes in Adobe Lightroom, it makes sense to first identify what they are. Below, we’ve listed five issues most novice editors will encounter.

1. Overblowing Color Grading Wheels

When you first try color grading in Adobe Lightroom, it’s easy to take things too far. Your first few edits will probably look abysmal, with colors and shades blown out of proportion in saturated ways.

Oversaturating your images with color wheels will show people that you know what color grading is, but it probably won’t impress them. However, this takes time to get right, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re not perfect right away.

A helpful exercise here might be to dial the pointer back a bit before pushing things to the extreme. That way, you’ll get a clean edit.

2. Don’t Tweak Other Colors First

When you import your photo files in RAW format, they will often look a bit washed out at first. As a result, you’ll probably need to tweak the saturation and vibrato—along with the calibration—to achieve what you’re going for.

In some cases, photographers will color grade before correcting other areas of the image. This works for some, but it will prevent you from getting the desired results in many cases. You won’t know what needs to be changed and what doesn’t unless you sort out the other bits first.

3. Color Grading While Your Computer is on Night Shift Mode

If you’re using your computer, smartphone, or iPad at night, it’s a good idea to turn on Night Shift mode; It is friendlier to your eyes. However, using it when editing your photos on Lightroom can lead to less than desirable results.

When your device has Night Shift mode activated, it will have a yellowish tint that will mess with the way you view your image. Because of this, you run the risk of not editing as much as is necessary. On the other hand, you can also overedit to compensate.

When editing photos, it’s best to keep Night Shift mode off. If this has harmful effects on your eyes, try changing your photos during the day instead.

4. Not Factoring In Color Theory

One of the most common frustrations for photographers is when you think you’ve got an amazing shot in person, but you don’t like how it looks when you upload it to your computer. Another annoyance is when you show someone what you like, but they give you nothing more than indifference.

In either case, your results could have been improved by thinking about color principles.

Color theory, in simple terms, looks at how different colors work together. They can sometimes be completely opposite, but even compliments can make your pictures look better. To find the best fit for you, you’ll need to do a little experimenting.

5. Feel Like Color Grading Is a Necessity

When we first discover a new feature on Lightroom, it’s tempting to feel like we need to use it all the time. However, like every tool, we should only touch it when it is absolutely necessary.

If you think your photo doesn’t need color grading, it probably doesn’t. People will notice few, if any, changes. You can test with different wheels to see if it makes a difference, but you’re better off leaving things as they are.

When you’re passionate about photography, it’s easy to feel like you must spend every second of your day taking and editing photos. However, sitting in front of a screen for long periods of time can damage your eyes – and if you’ve been looking at the same image for a while, it can be a bit skewed in how you actually see it.

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