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Quick and Easy Lightroom Color Tweaks


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Using the Hue/Saturation/Luminance panel in Lightroom is a great way to fine tune individual colors – not only their saturation, but also their brightness and even their Hue.

Quick Clicks Presets can help you accomplish most color tweaks in Lightroom. But it is helpful to understand what is behind the scenes of our fast-acting presets too. Today, we’ll give you that glimpse.   For example,  you can use our Lightroom presets to enhance and deepen a blue sky, but if you’re still saving up, you can do this with just a few tweaks to the HSL sliders in Lightroom.  No masking required!

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Here are my HSL settings for this edit:

The increase in Saturation for Blues and Aquas made the sky pop.  And the decrease in Luminance deepened the blue tones.

Note that I also increased the Luminance for Yellows and Oranges.  This was an easy way to add the appearance of fill light to this backlit sculpture.

Do you wonder how I knew to increase Aqua’s saturation by a little and Blue’s by a lot for the sky?

I didn’t!  Lightroom decided for me since I used the Targeted Adjustment Tool to make my edits.

Lightroom’s Targeted Adjustment Tool is in the red circle in the screenshot above.   Using this tool tells Lightroom to select and edit only the colors under it.

To use the “TAT”, click on it to activate and move your cursor to the area of the photo you want to enhance – the sky in this example.  On the Saturation tab, if I click and drag up on part of the sky, the saturation will increase for whatever color Lightroom reads under the cursor.  If you click and drag down, the Saturation for the corresponding areas will decrease.

The Hue and Luminance panels work the same way.  This Targeted Adjustment Tool streamlines edits immensely – no guesswork is necessary when choosing which sliders to adjust.

What happens when you use the Hue panel?  You actually change the color tone of a particular color.  You can only change it to the color before or after it on the rainbow, however.  For instance, I can change the yellow sculpture either to Orange or Green.


Obviously, effects like this work best when the colors are well separated and don’t repeat in the photo.  If there were a person in my example photo wearing a blue or yellow shirt, it would have been changed right along with the sky or the sculpture.

Now, how do we apply this HSL panel to skin-tones?

Jodi and I met up in Seattle over the summer.  It was a typical Seattle day rainy (=frizzy hair) and gray (=blah light).  Add that to the fact that my husband took the photo on a camera set to Auto, and you get a photo with lots of editing work to do!  We’ll use the HSL Panel to improve the skin-tones.

Grab that Targeted Adjustment Tool on the Saturation panel and drag down over the skin where the skin is too red or orange.  Go the the Luminance panel and drag up to brighten skin-tones.  You can even try the Hue panel if you’re having color cast issues – it works every once in a while for skin that has green in it.

You can see in the photo below that I lightly brightened the skin on the camera left side of both my face and Jodi’s face and arm, plus I reduced the saturation – we had a crazy bright colorful wall reflecting on us.

You can see the the saturation decrease also affected the hanging decoration in the background.  If this is a problem in your photo, use the Local Adjustment Brush to bring some saturation back in.

You can see my measurements below.  Be careful not to go overboard when either decreasing Saturation or Increasing Luminance on skin.  You can get gray or overexposed skin pretty easily if you go too far.

I also used the Adjustment Brush on this photo to add a bit of pink back into our cheeks and lips to offset the Red desaturation.

If you haven’t spent much time with Lightroom’s Hue/Saturation/Luminance panel yet, test it out in your workflow.  Don’t you think it’s a big time saver?




No Comments

  1. Janice on November 19, 2012 at 10:19 am

    This is awesome stuff!!! Thx for sharing!

  2. Jackie on November 19, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Jana on November 19, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Is this only available in Lightroom 4?

  4. julie on November 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    This is awesome!! Since I just got LIGHTROOM I’m dying to have it delivered and try this out!

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