Using the HSL panel in Lightrooom to selectively adjust colors.

It can be a challenge dealing with colors in a photo. There may be some that seem washed out, while others seem just about right. Let's look at the following image captured in Petrified Forest National Park.

What I would really like to do is improve the color of the sky. The way it currently sits, the sky is just a little washed out. If I were to take the saturation slider and move it to the right, it is going to increase the saturation of all the colors.

I could use the vibrance slider, but this too will have a bigger impact on the image than I really want. Fortunately, Lightroom provides the HSL panel. HSL stands for hue, saturation, and luminance. This panel affects the color channels as follows:

  • Hue - affects the tint of the color

  • Saturation - affects the richness of the color

  • Luminance - affects the brightness of the color

Most of the time, when adjusting a color, we want to work with both the saturation and the luminance sliders. There is one challenge. It is rare that the color we want to adjust in the image matches one of the sliders. Fortunately, Lightroom gives us a tool to help. If we look at the upper left corner of the HSL panel, there is what appears to be a tiny bullseye.

By selecting this tool, Lightroom allows us to select a color in the image and use the up and down arrow keys on our keyboard to adjust the HSL values for the color. What we notice when doing this is that several of the sliders will move at different rates. This is because, Lightroom sampled the color and determined the mix of colors that make up the color that we selected. The following video provides a demonstration of how this works:

After a few final edits in Lightroom, here is the final image:

If you are interested in learning more about Lightroom, please join me at one of my Lightroom classes. They can be found in the Workshop section of the Frozen Hiker Photography Website (

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