My Current Color Grading Process With Capture One and Affinity Photo

I've been asked recently about my color grading process and I thought I could share my editing process.

Here you see the raw image.

It was shot with the Sony A7RIII and Zeiss Batis 18mm f2.8

My initial thoughts are that the sky does have a lot of detail that I would like and that there's a lot of information in the shadows that I could recover.

Like I mentioned, I start by opening up the shadows in Capture One.

I then play with the exposure. This can be done with a mask as well, but I am not afraid to see how lowering the exposure affects the rest of the image. I lower the exposure by approximately 1 stop.

One technique that I like to use when I lower the exposure in Capture One to bring back detail in the highlights is to brighten the image again using the brightness slider.

I follow this with a bit of Clarity. It adds definition and more micro contrast to the image.

Notice that the histogram expands a bit when adding Clarity.

On the left, you have the original image and on the right after some simple adjustments in Capture One. I'll finish this part by adjusting my color temperature slider.

My last step before working in Affinity Photo. I adjust the color temperature of the image.

The image had a reading of 6577. I cooled it down a bit to 5734 to add a bit more color contrast.

From Capture One, I edit a Tiff. version of the file with Affinity Photo

Once I am in Affinity Photo, I head to the Document tab and convert the color space.

I use LAB/16 I find that colors are more pleasing to me and they have a subtleness to them.

After converting to LAB/16 I add a new Adjustment Layer with the channel mixer

By default, the channel mixer is set to Lightness under the LAB tab. I change this to AOpponent.

Ok, now this is where the fun begins. I adjust both the AOpponent and BOpponet to 50%

I'm sure you can see the shift in the tones of the image.

I follow this with another adjustment layer. Using Command L, the Levels adjustment appears, and using the histogram I adjust the White and Black levels.

After I adjust my new exposure levels I add another Adjustment layer. This time an HSL adjustment.

Here I adjust the Hue, Saturation, and Luminosity of elements in the image. In this example, I adjusted the color of rock formation and shrubbery. The rocks have a more muted color and the shrubs are more vibrant.

I do the same adjustments with the blue in the sky.

I add another HSL adjustment separately to address the overall saturation of the image.

Inside of the Layer panel, I add a Gaussian Blur effect. I use this to add a soft glow to some images.

When adjusting the radius, I adjust the amount to the MegaPixels of my camera sensor. The A7RIII has a 42.5-mp sensor. The blend mode I use is also the SoftLight overlay.

As you can see, leaving the Opacity at 100% is overkill. Some people like this, but I'm not a fan so I tend to drop it to 20-30%

Here is the final edit of this image =)

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