USING COLOR IN CURVES, CURVES COLOR MODE

Ok, this is really the juice of the tutorial. Using curves in Color mode is so powerful!

If you want to apply a different color to the highlights and the shadows, you would typically use Color Grading. Color Grading isn’t available in Masks. Curves can do what color grading can do, and more in the right hands.

In the curves, you will see 3 colored dots.

These stand in for (R) Red, (G) Green, and (B) Blue, the primary colours. The phrase RGB colours derives from this. RGB colours add up. When all the colours are put together, they become white light, which is how the human eye perceives colour. But that information is not necessary for this.

You could be aware of a second colour mode. CMYK. (Black, Yellow, Magenta, and Cyan. K is black, but since we are concentrating on colour, all that matters is C, M, and Y.

These are referred to as Subtractive Primaries; after all the colours are subtracted, you are left with whte. They operate similarly to pigment in paint or ink. Although it’s not necessary for this tutorial, who doesn’t want a little background knowledge?


What you will find useful (and no one talks about this in photography circles). For the purpose of Lightroom (and Photoshop) Color channels: The subtractive primaries are the opposite of the additive.

Opposite of red is Cyan

Opposite of Green is Magenta

Opposite of Blue is Yellow.


Click on the blue dot to activate the blue curve.

Drag up and the sky turns blue


Drag down and it turns yellow. Yellow is the opposite of blue.

These color channels don’t affect the tonality, they only affect the colors. (Technically, some do shift the tones a little bit, but not much)

Okay, let’s get down to business and apply this.

We want to tint the sky a little orange.

Decide on the red channel. To add a little red, drag up. not excessively.

Orange is a combination or Red and Yellow.

Go to the blue channel and drag down. Now you are mixing in some yellow to get orange. Just like mixing paints.

Choose the other mask.

Now we are going to add blue to the shadows only and Orange to the highlights only

This is what the curve looks like

If the effect is too much, go to the top of the adjustments and you will see an Amount slider. This reduces or intensifies all the adjustments on the mask.

And now for the conclusion. It doesn’t matter if this adjustment is to your taste or not, the point is to learn the tools so you can make your own adjustments that suit your style on your own images.

I hope you found this tutorial useful.

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