Toning Down Photos

Sometimes a photo will have just too much of a particular color (color cast) or overall too much color such as from a polarizing filter. The Singh-Ray LB Color Combo filter sometimes does this to my photos and I have to “tone them down” in Lightroom. Here’s what I do to achieve more pleasing color in these types of images:

  1. Check the white balance and make sure it is correct for the photo before doing anything else. Adjust it to the correct level before continuing.
  2. Determine if it is one color or overall color that is a problem. If it is just one color, I open the HSL sliders in Lightroom and adjust only that one color. Often I do this anyway with the magenta slider because it seems to be a frequent offender and very  few items I shoot are actually magenta, so it doesn’t hurt the overall image. Keep in mind that this adjustment affects the entire image.
  3. Is it just over-saturation? If so, I try adjusting down the saturation and vibrance sliders and see if that fixes it. This is sometimes the fix for over-polarized images and when using the LB Color Combo filter.
  4. Are there only portions where the color is too much or wrong? If it is only in a portion of the overall image, then I get out the brush tool and brush on either saturation reduction, white balance, or sometimes I even choose a color to apply. Sometimes I do all or a combination of these.

There’s no one right way to do this and it will take a whole lot of adjusting, trial and error, but if you can work out the right thing to do for one photo, you should be able to apply it to several. Make a custom preset, or apply the same adjustments to multiple photos from the same vintage. Whatever you do, preserve what you did so you can know how to do it again.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, this occurs for me sometimes when I use the Singh-Ray LB Color Combo filter. That filter is a spectacular filter and I get great results from it. I highly recommend it. However, sometimes it does its job too well and makes images that are just too vibrant for their own good.

By using some of these techniques, you should be able to “tone down” an image that suffers from this issue. Although the steps I outlined here sound like common sense, I hope it helps you realize a great image in your own workflow!

Thank you for reading what I wrote — I hope you enjoyed it.