Playing with Color Grading for a Cinematic Look

Trouble Me - Coney Island - 2015

A few years ago, I became acquainted with the work of Jaime Ibarra. Around the same time, I started paying attention to color grading – initially in movies and later in photography.

Ming Thein has written about the cinematic look – it’s one of his favorite photographic styles. He says that “obvious hallmarks of the style are an abundance of out of focus areas, a narrow/wide format, and highly directional light.”

Add to that color – in particular, color in the highlights and shadows.

Jaime has recently updated his color grading workflow – which inspired me to dive back into that technique again. The technique delivers a very compelling cinematic image. It’s based on adding contouring highlights and shadows first to the image followed by the color grading. The effect is almost three dimensional – taking flat images into having depth. You’ll see that in these images – lovely depth of lights and shadows along with beautiful cinematic color grading. Enjoy!

Here are a few of my recent experiments – using recent images from New York City and Paris.

Toast - Paris - 2014

Cocktails - Paris - 2014

Summer Solstice - New York City - 2015

In My Hand - Paris - 2014

Market Time - New York City - 2015

New Photoshop Learnings from Jaime Ibarra

I recently took a 1:1 workshop with Jaime Ibarra – wanting to learn more about his technique for post-processing images. His approach to post-processing is strikingly different – and one which I enjoy. And he’s also an amazing photographer as well!

Jaime and I spent a couple of hours together via Skype video talking about both his approach to photography, some new challenges for me, and then his approach to post-processing images in Photoshop. I’ve been to several photography workshops over the last couple of years – but this one was really unique and different – and I learned a lot!

Frankly, I expected our time together would focus mostly on post-processing – but we spent a lot of time upfront talking just about photography, what it means to us, how we approach it, how we’re challenged by it, etc. That discussion was surprising for me – and enlightening. Great fun. Perhaps even more useful to me in terms of my wanting to learn about portrait shooting than the post-processing techniques Jaime subsequently shared.

So, what did I learn? Here’s an example of an image I both shot and post-processed earlier today using some of what I learned from my workshop with Jaime. The colors are different – not exactly unusual, but different. Different enough to matter and capture the mood. The venue is the California Avenue Farmers Market in Palo Alto. The image is titled “Karmel Korn” – shot with my Canon 5D Mark II with the Canon 135mm f/2 lens.

Kettle Korn -Palo Alto - 2011

Thanks to both Trey Ratcliff and Victor Cajiao for introducing me to Jaime.