December 4, 2022


Capturing Magic Moments

Color grading in Photoshop is possible for everyone: we test Infinite Color

6 min read

Infinite Color for Infinite Tools is a color correction plugin for Photoshop. We put it through its paces.

The great thing about photography is that it is so diverse. We photographers all have different tastes and skills. Color grading is one of those things that some like and some don’t. I appreciate it when it’s done well, but I’ve never really cared about it. There are three reasons for this, and I suspect others will have similar experiences. First of all, my photographic style and my usual subjects do not lend themselves to the technique. Second, I don’t particularly like spending hours in front of my computer editing photos.

The third reason is that I don’t have the time to learn the skills. When I’m learning something, I want to do it well, and color correction seems to take time to learn. Previously, I scoured the internet for good quality how-to videos, but the content was limited. I’ve seen some excellent color grading work accompanying some good tutorials, but they’ve always been complicated processes. Also, the tutors’ settings rarely worked well with my images.

So when the opportunity arose to review Infinite Color by Infinite Tools, I volunteered to do so. I had previously reviewed Infinite Black and White and was impressed by the ease with which decent black and white conversions could be made in Photoshop. Would applying tint be just as easy for a complete beginner?

Installation is easy. After downloading the file, install it to C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Adobe\CEP\extensions on a Windows computer or (your username) > Library > Application Support > Adobe > CEP > Extensions on a Mac . Restart Photoshop and the plug-in will appear in the plug-ins menu. Then enter the license key code. The Infinite Color Suite will open and be ready to use. So far, so good.

I am lucky! I am blessed with the ability to grasp software quickly and find most programs intuitive. The best way for me to understand new software is to dive in and get my hands dirty; I learn from my mistakes. With Infinite Black and White, the first click on the Create button gave a pretty good result, and it was just a matter of tweaking. It would certainly be the same with Infinite Color, right?

There on the screen was the plugin panel with the big create button urging me to click it. So I did. My reaction was, “Yuck!” I pressed again, and the result was just as uncomfortable.

To illustrate this, the before and after frame above shows an image straight out of the camera and the same image with the default settings of Infinite Color. It’s subjective, but it wasn’t my taste at all. Did I do something wrong? Long story short, yes, I was. The secret was to drag the intensity slider to the left. Suddenly, the resulting image was quite pleasing.

When you click the “Create” button, the program creates five adjustment layers in a group and applies settings to each layer.

Each click of the create button activates an action that creates the adjustment layers and applies a semi-random set of adjustments to them. Although there are seemingly infinite combinations of these settings, they are designed to work within set parameters. These parameters were created by the designer of the program with its color grades.

For the learner, pressing the level’s shuffle button changes the results and gives a different, usually pleasant, effect. If you decide you liked a previous version better, you can use Photoshop’s history panel to step back to revert to it. Of course, those familiar with color correction in Photoshop can use the Layers panel to make custom adjustment layer changes. This plugin is also suitable for them as it speeds up the whole editing process. In addition, adjustment sets can be saved and reused for additional images.

Infinite color doesn’t stop there. Each of the layers can be toggled on and off within the tool. This allows you to see how these adjustments affect the image. You can then mix and match the settings of each individual adjustment to find something that matches the look you want – a great learning tool and a quick way to get great results.

So what are the layers that Infinite Color produces? There are five of these, and the following is a brief and simplified explanation of each:

Color Lookup applies different appearances to the photo, simulating the look of different film types and effects.

A gradient map lets you apply different colors to different tones in a photo. For example, you can add shades of blue to shadows and shades of orange to highlights, with a gradual change between them.

Selective color works by selectively changing the amount of a single primary color without changing the other primary colors in the image.

Color balance was originally developed to correct the overall color of the lighting when taking an image, allowing a photographer to make white appear white. The color of the rest of the image was similarly shifted, often warming or cooling. It can also be used creatively as is the case with the color grading process.

The Curves adjustment layer lets you adjust the brightness of individual points of lightness across the tonal range of an image, giving you precise control over contrast.

Each of these customizations can be mastered outside of the plugin with varying degrees of difficulty; some are easier to understand than others. But how these five interact with each other is another matter entirely. So you could create these adjustment layers in Photoshop and adjust them yourself, but that takes time and knowing how to change them. Those who are already familiar with hues probably still do. But many photographers like me have never ventured into this realm of creativity and want a tool that simplifies and speeds up the process.

Infinite Color has many other tricks that take advantage of Photoshop’s functionality, e.g. B. Keeping the settings stack on top of the stack and color-coding the layers. The video at the top of this article gives you a good overview of what this software can do.

What I liked and what could be improved

This handy software sparked my interest in color grading. It’s easy to use and a great way to learn how to color correct photos. It’s especially good for artistic portrait work, which I don’t specialize in. Nevertheless, from my subjective point of view, the results are excellent.

I asked a digital artist to try it on his drawings and he was impressed too.

I especially liked that it worked within Photoshop, not in an external application like Nik Color Efex or On1 Effects that have to be opened externally. It’s very fast in creating these levels. It’s also great for all experience levels, and is suitable for beginners, learners, and experts alike, although I suspect many experts will still create color grading layers manually.

For my taste, the default intensity level could be reduced, but others may prefer the stronger setting. I liked that double-clicking the intensity slider reset it to its default value.

At $129, it’s not particularly cheap compared to other plugins. But it’s not the same as other plugins; It performs all of its functions within Photoshop, speeding up the workflow compared to external plugins. For a professional photographer color grading many images, this cost is recouped in time savings. In addition, the layers are non-destructive and can be optimized. It depends on personal budget and whether you find it affordable. Some will, and some won’t.

Will I use Infinite Color? Maybe occasionally. I am interested in this, although as I said at the beginning, color grading does not suit my usual photographic style. I see many photographers for whom it will be a valuable addition to their toolbox. It’s certainly a nifty tool for learning how color correction works; It delivers excellent results and speeds up the editing process. In addition, it allowed me to achieve results in Photoshop that I would otherwise not be able to achieve.

For the sake of candor, I received a free copy of this software for review.

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