Creating a Sunset with Colour Grading

The original shot of this sunset was beautiful, cinematic and enjoyed an incredibly powerful composition. 

However the scene had a heavy blue palette, which suggested a cold stark moment in the talent’s journey. 

The emotional response this type of atmosphere produced was not appropriate for how the shot was going to be used.

So a decision was made to introduce warmth into the scene – a warmth that wasn’t present in the original footage.

To achieve this I challenged the original blue tones by introducing subtle warms, reds and orange. I kept the original hints of purple, but warmed them up.

I really wanted to audience to feel like this was a beautiful sunset, so I created a tracked window in the centre of the frame, approximately where the shot was already beginning to blow out its highlights. This helped create the illusion there was a sun setting on the horizon. 

Warm tones were also added to the black shadows to suggest a slight hazing from the camera looking directly towards the sun. 

I am really pleased with the result. 

Which version is best? Both the original blue shot, and the new warmer sunset version work well in their own right. It all depends on where and how the shot will be used in a finished film. 

Ungraded sunset - Colour Grading LondonColour Grading a sunset