How To Use The HSL Panel In Lightroom

Let’s unpack it together in this photography tutorial.

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How To Use The HSL Panel In Lightroom

In-depth HSL Color Panel Lightroom Tutorial

Learn how to use the HSL panel to edit your photos, what the HSL Sliders do and what hue saturation and luminance mean. Plus we’ll cover some secret Lightroom color grading tips and tricks for using the HSL for skin tones, sky recovery and desaturating greens & grass. This tutorial is an absolute Lightroom essential, and should be considered Lightroom 101 for anyone looking to edit better photos in Adobe Lightroom.

Unpacking the HSL panel IN DEPTH – Learn what hue, saturation and luminance REALLY mean:

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hey guys Ryan here at signature edits
and today we are going to take a deep
dive into the HSL panel inside of
Lightroom work and unpack how it works
what it’s all about and how you can use
it let’s get into it
okay so what is the HSL panel you say it
is the hue saturation and luminance tool
inside of Lightroom and so we’re going
to unpack exactly what that means how to
use it and then show you a few separate
examples of how it can practically be
used to edit your photos so to explain
these terms we’re going to look at a
little bit of color science don’t worry
we’re going to keep it simple and quick
and everybody born after 1999 has no
idea what that was about anyways this is
the color spectrum of visible light
now all light that your eyes see is
energy and the amount of energy that
that light has is the color of that
light why does this matter because hue
is the dominant wavelength of your light
so if you’re looking at your light
spectrum here and most of the energy
coming off of a source is in this 415
nanometers wavelength you’re going to
see it and perceive it as blue okay now
saturation color saturation is the
purity of that particular wavelength so
let me demonstrate that by looking at
this black panel here okay I’m going to
go up into our tone curve and I’m going
to go into the red Channel so right now
we’re seeing black which is basically no
color at all whereas if we raise our red
channel up here we’re going to see we
have added 100% red to this image it’s
now completely red completely saturated
if I add in some green however you’re
going to see that the saturation of the
red starts drum now it’s becoming yellow
now if I go down to the blue and I add
in 100% blue you’re going to see it
becomes white so even though our red is
at a hundred percent because we also
have a hundred percent green and 100
percent blue our image is white now if
we take away these other colors you’re
going to see that the saturation of the
red is much deeper why is that because
the purity of the light that we’re
seeing is this one spectrum this one
wavelength we’re no longer seeing a
combination of red blue and green we are
only seeing red now if you want to have
a breakdown of the tone curve tutorial
you can check out my earlier tutorial
I’ll put a link up in the card right in
the top right but to summarize
saturation is the purity of your light
source we have one more measurement in
our HSL panel before we’re getting
started with at
and that is luminance luminance is the
easiest to understand is simply light
intensity how dark or bright the light
so this quick diagram explains it our
initial light source is measured in
lumens that goes down it reflects off
this tabletop at a given distance that
is Lux and that reflects up into the eye
the amount of light that finally reaches
the eye is known as luminance
technically the Candela per square meter
Candela is I think a measurement of a
candles brightness that has nothing to
do with anything but a quick fun fact is
lumens and Lux you might see if you’re
ever buying a video light or buying a
flash and it’s showing you the
brightness measurement lumens is the
amount of light that your initial source
gives off whereas Lux is the amount of
light that hits a source at a given
distance so always look for a Lux
measurement if possible because that
distance is defined whereas lumens can
be measured anywhere within you know
here here here here away from the source
so you don’t truly know how bright a
light is unless you have a Lux
measurement anyways let’s move on to
understanding our HSL panel with this
beautiful color we love truth and
justice so here is the HSL panel over
here you can open it by hitting this
little triangle here and we have our hue
our saturation and our luminance which
now we know what those mean you might be
intimidated by everything else going on
in here but don’t worry we’re going to
unlock that for you as well so let’s
start off by looking at how we navigate
around the HSL panel so to access the
panel we hit this little triangle to
hide it we hit that triangle again and
you’ll see it says HSL slash color this
is not two different tools that you have
to choose between it is simply a
different way of displaying the same
information so in this format we can
choose between hue saturation and
luminance with all the colors able to
select whereas when we select color we
can do the same thing hue saturation and
luminance but only for individual colors
at a time so it’s kind of like a small
micro version of this entire HSL panel
it just depends whatever you prefer
I personally use it in this mode and if
you want to you can hit this all button
and be overwhelmed with a plethora of
options at your fingertips and do
everything at the same time but to
prevent scrolling issues where I have to
go up and down to adjust things I simply
select hue saturation or luminance so
looking at that we are now going to see
the practical implications of hue
remember we said it was the
primary wavelength of whatever light we
were seeing so we can actually vary that
primary wavelength within different
ranges of color so if I take my Reds and
I make the wavelength closer to purple
you’ll see that everything shifts over
towards its purple counterpart over here
and now if we go the other way towards
orange you’ll see our Reds are turning
towards orange so that’s how we can
manipulate our colors inside of
Lightroom simply by adjusting our hue
and moving it either to the color on its
left or color on its right within the
color wheel now you can’t take oranges
and make them blue for instance we are
simply shifting them a finite amount and
if you want to actually make wild
changes in your colors you should look
at our other tutorial here where I have
changed anything the color of anything
in Lightroom you can check that out I’ll
put the card up in the top so that’s how
Heuer our saturation remember we said it
was the amount of purity within our
color well we can look at that take all
the saturation away and you’re going to
be left with most mostly gray that is a
combination of all of our colors whereas
if we add red and saturation here we’re
going to see our color gets more pure
more saturated okay so we can do that
and adjust our saturation now lastly
luminance is brightness we can adjust
our brightnesses by lowering or
increasing the intensity of light and
manipulate our photos that way so that
is how you use the panel let’s jump over
to some practical implications and show
you how to use it
sweet deal okay photo exhibit numero uno
is this beautiful shot of a couple
running in a dead dusty field and we
have a bright bright blown out sky well
we can fix that by going to our
luminance section click that grab our
blues and just drag that blue Channel
down you can see we can get all the
color back in our blues simply by
dragging that value down and then
normally when I’m using the HSL panel I
tend to want to make my changes subtle
so first off I wouldn’t go like this and
you can see I’m really pulling too much
information back and actually that works
out you’re gonna get some fringing and
some weird-looking artifacts happening
here so I’m not going to go quite that
intense maybe dial it back a little bit
and I like to take these surrounding
colors and dial those back as well I
feel like that gives you a more subtle
look by doing it that way now another
thing we can do is brighten up the skin
because they are obviously in the
shadows we can take the oranges which is
their primary skin tone as well as the
Reds and the yellows and take those up
and just like that we have gone from our
before to after really rescued a ton of
detail without having to do much another
thing that I would hop over and do is
typically I find skin tones a little bit
too magenta so I go over to my heel and
I’ll grab my oranges and make them a
little bit less magenta magenta meaning
reddish so we’re going to grab those
drag those a little bit towards our
green side perfect and you can see the
difference here we’ve got our original
skin tones and after we’ve brighten them
up and lastly we can take some
saturation out of the skin if we want I
think we’ve got some weird saturation
happening up here on his forehead it’s
looking a little bit too much another
cool tool we have here is this little
spot selector so if we hit this spot
selector we can actually go to our image
any point of the image we can select it
and it will show us which color that
corresponds to so here we’ve got our
blues we’ve got our oranges we’ve got
our blues again obviously there’s a lot
of blue and orange in this image and not
much else but I can grab the point on
his forehead I want to desaturate and it
will grab those colors you can see it’s
a little bit of a magenta and mostly
Red’s will bring the saturation down on
that perfect and go up to our basic
panel maybe bring some vibrance up
overall and that looks absolutely
just kidding now this is just a
demonstration of how to use the tool not
necessarily what I would do for my final
edit but you get the point
we’ve gone from here to here rescued a
lot of detail taking them saturation out
of the skin that is how easy it is okay
next example here we have a beautiful
apple orchard and we’ve got a lot of
green going on and some reds let’s see
what we can do so if you want to get
really filmic green tones I found this
is the magic you want to desaturate your
yellows and you want to desaturate your
greens when you do that you’ll see all
of a sudden they’re popping off this
image it looks so much more organic than
our original here and that’s all I had
to do now another thing I would do I
would take the luminance of their skin
up so it just sort of pops a little bit
and I would take the saturation down
it’s particularly in the reds and again
I would take my hues because this was
taken on a canon camera I find it tends
to be a little bit too magenta so take
it somewhere around there so again
here’s our original and here is after
just using the HSL panel you can see our
that is now if I wanted to I could also
maybe darken down the greens to play
some more focus on them or I could
brighten the greens if I wanted to go
that way now one last thing you can do
is you can play with the hue of your
green so if we take it more towards blue
aqua whatever we can make our greens
kind of that sort of sort of fairytale
vibe or we can take them towards yellow
and more towards a earthy organic fall
sort of vibe depending on whichever you
prefer so you have a lot of flexibility
creatively in what you do with the HSL
panel so here’s before and here’s after
and here’s maybe our alternate look
something like that
okay let’s bounce over to number two let
me show you again another example of the
greens this is slightly different
because we have grass and that is the
worst thing to deal with when you’re
looking at editing photos that grass
drives me nuts because it is not a
pretty shade of green it tends to be way
to kind of yellowish in here
but watch what happens all we have to do
is grab our grass grab the saturation
take it down in the yellows then grab
the saturation take it down in the
greens wow look at that all of a sudden
we have a more concentrated image so one
thing when it comes to editing your
images you want to look at the tones
across the entire image and try and
minimize if you can only have one or two
tones within that image it will be much
more cohesive and strong as a whole so
you can see that we really only have a
couple of tones going on here we mostly
now that we’ve removed the yellows and
the greens we have blue and we have
orange those are our primary colors with
a little bit of red in there so what we
can do is kind of take those colors and
just bring them out a little bit more by
slightly exaggerating the saturation in
our blues and maybe a little bit more in
the oranges great now we can go over to
our hues and if we want to we can play
with these a little bit to bring out
some tones that are a little more
pleasing I’m gonna take my yellows and
you’ll see that even though we’ve
desaturated the yellow there is still a
little bit of a difference happening
here in the shadows so just watch for
that how it just warms it up by adding
some kind of red to those yellows and
we’re going to do the same thing with
our greens see if we like that not
noticing much of a difference either way
and if you wanted to you could even take
your blues and make those more of a
crazy aqua if you want an exaggerated
filter but I’m going to keep it pretty
natural here something like that
and then finally we can head over to our
luminance panel and very slightly just
bring our greens down and our yellows
down and you can see we’ve just added
some contrast to the image just like
that so here’s our original image and
there is after making our HSL
adjustments no other changes none of
these other tools used in Lightroom at
all just HSL took us from here all the
way to here how awesome is that okay one
final example for you guys we’re gonna
look at this guy right here we’re gonna
do something very similar to our first
image with the sky we’ll take our
luminance down to get the Blues back in
that sky and do the same thing with the
kind of colors surrounding it
immediately you’ll see we’ve got a lot
of detail back then we’re going to raise
the luminance up on our yellows and our
R it’s something like that we’re gonna
go over to our hues and this is where we
can get really crazy and creative if we
want to and we could do like that kind
of teal and orange look just like that
we could take our oranges and we could
saturate the goodness out of them but
we’ll keep it a little bit more subtle
here maybe add a little bit of
saturation to our blues and that is
looking pretty good so here’s the
original image and just with the HSL
adjustments we have brought back the sky
we’ve raised up the oranges and brought
out some pop in the colors that is how
powerful this panel is we can take our
washed out images and we can bring new
life into them just like that so I hope
this was helpful for you to see what is
possible with the HSL panel if it was
please hit that like button for me don’t
forget to leave a comment below and
subscribe if you want to keep up to date
with more awesome content all right I
will catch you in the next one take care

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