Using the curve tool to warm your sunsets
Last updated on 2018/8/22

In this tutorial, we're taking another look at enhancing photos taken around sunset. But we're going to show you a new technique to add warmth to these photos and emulate that sunset feeling. Let's learn!

Original image


Let's start off by looking at a few sunset photos. Try to analyze what these photos have in common.

Notice how most of these photos have a very warm tone? Of course. It's one of those defining characteristics of a sunset. But did you notice that these warm tones aren't all just yellow? In fact, they're more biased towards orange. Our original, unedited photo up above is lacking orange and is a little too cool. So, in this tutorial, we'll manipulate the RGB curves to add orange to the photo and further enhance the feeling of a sunset.

Let's load the original photo into Polarr.

We'll go into the curve tool and this selects the red curve. Once selected, let's pull it to the upper left corner. Pulling the red curve in that direction will add red to the image. Pulling the red curve will add cyan when pulled in the opposite direction.

We've now started to warm the image, but have added some magenta to it. That's because the original image had a lot of blue in it. And as you know, adding red to blue will give us magenta.

Next, we'll go to the green curve. Pull the green curve to the upper left corner. Since we've already pulled the red curve in this direction, it's like we've now added both red and green to the overall photo. And as you know, mixing red and green gives us yellow. So comparing the photo at this point in time to the original will show that we've essentially added yellow.

To clarify, pulling the green curve to the upper left corner will add green to the photo. Going in the opposite direction will add magenta.

The photo is already substantially warmer than when we first loaded it into the app. But we can do better, so we will. Next, select the blue curve and lower it towards the right-hand corner. This will further enhance the yellow in the image.

Pulling the blue curve to the upper left will add blue to the photo. So pulling it in the opposite direction will add yellow. Which is what we just did.

Our final adjustment will have us adding an S shape to the white curve. This will improve the contrast of the photo.

That's it! By manipulating all the curves we were able to add warmth to our cold photo and enhance the sunset. We added red, green and yellow to this photo and that added an orange tone to the image. Try it yourself the next time you take a sunset photo that doesn't feel warm enough.