I write this not because I think I'm pro - but because people have wanted to know how I go about grading still. Glenn Stewart from Mindscape films and Rob Chiu are true masters of the craft. If you haven't heard of them - check them out here.
Rob Chiu: http://flickr.com/photos/theronin/ and http://vimeo.com/robchiu/videos Glenn Stewart: http://vimeo.com/mindscape/videos, www.kozu.tv
Process: [I use Lightroom 3 - would love to know how to fully use photoshop for grading photos]
1. Compensate the white balance by adjusting the color temperatures at the top right of the Lightroom interface 2. Adjust Global Exposure 3. Adjust the saturation - bring it down usually - adjust the fill light and all that jazz 4. Adjust the contrast, black levels etc. 5. Do localized corrections
These are the two important elements that largely determines the feel of the photo for me: 6: Adjusting the split-toning sliders 7: Adjusting the tone curve.
The 2 above mentioned elements are extremely powerful for creating color 'Looks'
To go 'BlockBuster': I usually have desaturated images, very contrasted, blue shadows[by using split toning - but keeping the balance value all the way to the right - meaning more of the highlights get affected than the shadows], highlights yellowish and the tone curve normal
To go 'Vintage': I have the same basic settings as above except the contrast is low, the shadows are purple or brownish - the highlights must be yellow or greenish. And the Tone Curve should have the lowest point raised to about a 1/5th of the way up from the lowest left hand corner [its default]
That's basically it.
I don't know how to use half the buttons in Lightroom - like sharpening and some of the other ones. Should I be concerned with them?! Glenn...Rob?!
Here are a few screenshots to show you what I mean