By Chris Malinao
Adobe has released their latest versions of Photoshop, Lightroom, and Camera Raw. The updates in Photoshop 2021 (Version 22 now) itself are quite amazing: the neural filters are groundbreaking, its sky replacement tool is quite amazing, it has improved its refine edge selections, and it has introduced an all-new Discover panel. All these make Photoshop 2021 feel like a brand-new version.
On the other hand, what they brought into the classic version of Lightroom is quite underwhelming. Lightroom Classic Version 10 gets just a slight cosmetic update: 1) An improved way to zoom in and out; 2) Live view for tethered shooting — only for new Canons, but why? And worth mentioning, 3) Color grading. There’s also 4) the claim to improved performance (again!).
No matter, an upgrade is an upgrade. It is no longer Version 9.xx; it has jumped to Version 10. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC Classic is now Version 10. Considered to be its headline feature is the addition of a new panel in Lightroom, the Color Grading panel. It looks like a cosmetic update, a re-arranging of old tools that were already there previously, but Adobe claims this new panel gives users much more refined control on the colors that you can adjust separately for Highlights, Midtones, and Shadows. Yes, targeted separately.
As a side note, let’s first distinguish between color correction and color grading. Color correction refers to adjusting white and black levels, exposure, contrast, and white balance according to a set of standards to give you an image that is as accurate as the human eye sees it. This is your first job as photographer, to capture accurate color; white should be white without any tinge of another color.
Color grading, on the other hand, is manipulating colors to convey the mood and tone that you want to communicate; you adjust the image to create a stylistic effect because color and luminosity affect emotion. In professional circles, you want to color correct first, then color grade.
The new Color Grading panel in Lightroom sits under the HSL panel. If you knew what you’re doing in Lightroom, you could manipulate colors – and therefore, color grade – in the HSL panel. But the Color Grading panel actually replaces the Split Toning panel in Lightroom where you can apply color renditions by separately assigning colors to Highlights and Shadows. If you’re still seeing the Split Toning panel after installing the new Version 10, your image is still in the old process version; click on the lightning bolt icon at lower right of the histogram to switch to the latest process version.
In the new Color Grading panel, you can now separately assign colors to Highlights, Shadows, and Midtones. There are color wheels that you can tweak, and sliders for luminance, blending, and balance. It all adds up to quite a geeky experience in the post process. If you’re an old photographer, you remember that you apply your colors by using gels in your strobes. Here today is the high-tech way of doing that, targeted separately toward different tonal values of your image.
To do color grading, you either use its three-wheel or the single wheel mode. Click on a specific area in the color wheel, drag it to where you want it in the highlights, midtones, and shadows, and tweak its luminance and balance sliders until you get the exact colors and tones.
On to the improved way of zooming in in Lightroom: We can now press the CTRL key while dragging a rectangle to zoom in to a specific area of an image. Additionally, there’s a scrubby way to zoom in or out of an image in the Develop module by pressing the SHIFT key while dragging left or right with the mouse. In the Navigation panel, zoom ratios are now expressed as percentages and the Fit and Fill options are now lumped together in a dropdown menu.
Live view while in tethered shooting mode has now been added in Lightroom, too, but only for Canon cameras initially. We understand that Adobe is also adding support for live view for other camera brands going forward.
And finally, Adobe states that performance has been improved in Version 10 for faster editing with brushes and gradients. Adobe says there is now a smoother and faster rendering while applying Linear and Radial Gradients, painting with the Brush Tool or adjusting multiple sliders for local corrections while GPU acceleration is turned on. There’s also quicker scrolling through the Library Grid, Folders, and Collections, especially while browsing through larger catalogs and longer lists of Folders and Collections.
Chris Malinao teaches digital post-processing methods such as the Lightroom workflow software and Photoshop editing software to photography students at the Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation (FPPF), a non-profit that offers year-round workshops in Comprehensive Digital Photography, Lighting Essentials, Wedding Photography, Strobist Lighting, Food Photography, Photoshop, Lightroom, and other specialty photography workshops. For details of FPPF workshops, visit www.photoworldmanila.com.