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This video covers how to create and save your own amazing landscape colour grades within Photoshop using lookup tables or LUTs. If you’ve never come across them before, then here’s a quick preview of how powerful they are: The colours in these photos are all a direct result of the lookup tables freely available from lapseoftheshutter.com. They are fully stackable, and you can use layer masks to provide even greater control. Photoshop comes pre-bundled with a fairly large selection, but most of these are too extreme for landscape photographers, so I have created ten LUTs that you can download totally free from lapseoftheshutter.com. Full installation instructions are included with the download. Simply enter your email address and receive an immediate download link.
To colour grade your photos using LUTs, you simply add a colour lookup adjustment layer in Photoshop, and select the lookup table from the menu. These create a subtle colour grade in the photo. They are descriptively named to guide you to their most common uses.
So, what are lookup tables?
Lookup tables are simple data files that Photoshop can use to modify colour. When you use a lookup table, Photoshop will, for each pixel in your photo, examine its RGB colour value and then look in the LUT for that colour. The LUT will tell Photoshop to which RGB value the input colour should be converted, and Photoshop will modify the colour of that pixel. In practise, this means that the same colours will always be converted uniformly for each LUT, and therefore a LUT developed to improve sunsets should work on all sunsets. This is what makes them so powerful for us landscape photographers.
If the ten I’ve provided aren’t enough, and you want to make your own, it’s actually very simple. There’s only one rule: you can’t use layer masks. Only global adjustments that affect every pixel in your photo can be used, otherwise you will not get consistent results.
So, take a photo, and make a few global adjustments.
Then go to File -> Export -> Colour Lookup Tables. The higher the number of grid points, the more accurate the LUT will be when you use it, but the file will be bigger and much slower to load. Personally, I find that 64 grid points is a good compromise. The format doesn’t make any practical difference to us, so I would leave it on 3dl and uncheck the other options so only one LUT is created.
Before you can use this LUT on future photos, you first have to load it into Photoshop. Open a colour lookup adjustment layer, open the first menu, and at the top sleect load 3dlut file. You will have to change the file type to 3dl, then find the folder where you saved your LUT. Once you have loaded it once, it will always be available in Photoshop. Now you can easily apply the colour grade you have just created to any photo.
If you want to take a look at the ten I have created for landscape and cityscape photographers, then they are freely available from lapseoftheshutter.com, along with the Lightroom Develop System and the Photoshop Colour Control ActionPack, and the Landscapes Masterclass text and video tutorial.Get the Photoshop Color Control ActionPack for Free!
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