shadow and light

Mastering Light and Shadow Techniques for Post Production

How to master light and shadow in post production editing is a task that most photographers – even the most seasoned ones, are still trying to master. Light and shadow can add depth and impact to an image. When a photographer utilizes the power of light and shadow in their photographs, they can transform their photos from good to great.

Just like contrasting colors, shadow and light are opposite factors that can positively affect one another. With the right mix of these, an image can become visually captivating and compelling to one’s audience. In fact, what sets high end photo editing apart from one another is the ability to balance light and shadow techniques in post production.

We’ve listed some tips for mastering light and shadow in post-production editing in this article for you. This quick guide is perfect for newbies trying to figure out how they can start this process.

Are you ready to know more about this craft? Keep reading to learn more.

How do light and shadow affect the overall image?

Light and shadow are known to have the ability to create a specific mood in an image. Much like how lighting experts use lighting and darkness to convey emotions. An example would be how spotlights in theater are used to direct the audience’s focus on that individual. Spotlights can animate them in a way like no other. Suddenly these actors command all your attention, and they seem larger than life.

The same can be said with photos that maximize the power of light and shadow. If used correctly, viewers experience a photo with more depth and dimension, making an image seem more vivid and three-dimensional.

Light and shadow techniques for post production

Professional photo retouching companies use photo editing platforms to adjust the light and shadow of a photo. Programs such as Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, and GIMP are commonly used by creatives.

However, not all software is built the same. Each software platform has an edge over the other. Depending on your chosen software, you’ll have a variety of tools that are available to you. On this list, we’ve written down the basic tools that you can find on most platforms to create a stunning image.

Color grading

Most photo editing software will allow you to color grade your image. Here are some of the tools you’ll encounter:

  • The white balance is for adjusting the color accuracy of your image by adjusting the true color of white on your image. By manipulating this slider, you can have a natural-looking photo.
  • You can adjust the color wheels to manipulate the hue, brightness, and saturation of certain colors on your image.
  • The shadows and highlights sliders can be adjusted to add more depth to your photo.
  • Temperature adjusts the overall feel of your image by adjusting the light warmth and coolness of light.

When you’re color-grading a photo, we recommend that you start on a neutral base to ensure that you’re getting a color-accurate photo. You can also take inspiration from other artists and use their work as a reference to what you’re trying to accomplish.

Finally, make sure to save your work often so that you can easily revert to a previous version of your photo if you don’t like the adjustments you’ve made.

Curve adjustment

If you’ve tried to poke around your photo editing software, then you’ve probably noticed the curves option on your software editing platform.

The curves on the graph represent brightness and contrast. A straight line will mean that there are no changes to the brightness or contrast of an image. By manipulating the curve tool, you can adjust the brightness and contrast of a certain area of the image instead of the whole photo.

Level adjustment

A photo’s levels can be adjusted through the use of various drop-down menus. Photography post processing service providers use this tool to correct the color balance and tonal range of a photo. When you try to adjust this item, you’ll be presented with a histogram.

The histogram shows you the concentration of pixels on your image, allowing you to make the needed adjustments to achieve your desired results.

Learning post production light and shadow techniques from the experts

shadow and light

Now that you know how to use light and shadow in post production editing, you should take this time to practice what you’ve learned and start experimenting with the treatment of your photos. You can also see how other photographers manipulate their photos and learn from their expertise.

There are numerous resources online that are posted by generous creatives who are willing to share their knowledge. If you don’t know where to start, you can go through Paper Boat Creatives’ blog and look through the trove of resources that we’ve published just for you.

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