The HSL panel allows you to target the hue, saturation, and luminance of the various tones in your image.
However, the HSL Panel isn’t just for working with color. It’s also a great tool to use with your black and white photographs.
Let’s take a closer look at what these important sliders in Lightroom can do.
Before you can get started with HSL, you need to know exactly what these terms mean.
Most people use the terms Hue and Colour interchangeably. It’s very common to assume the two mean the same thing.
Colour is the general term we use to describe every hue, tint, tone or shade we see.
Hue refers to the dominant Color Family of the specific colour we’re looking at. White, Black and Grey are never referred to as a Hue.
“Purple” refers to colour, but it does not distinguish if it’s “lilac”, “lavender”, or “mauve”. These are all purple hues because they appear in the purple family of colour on the colour wheel.
Saturation refers to the intensity of a colour.
The intensity of colour is important because colour has a psychology. We have associations with certain colours, and colours are also connected to mood. Therefore, saturation plays an important role in the mood of a photograph.
Highly saturated colours generally convey brighter emotions, whereas muted, desaturated colour can lend a sense of mystery.
When you use the Saturation slider in the Presence Panel in Lightroom, it adjusts the saturation of all the colours. This very quickly becomes overdone. The HSL panel allows you to control the saturation of colours individually.
When shooting food, you want the colours to look as natural as possible. Most food is pretty warm in tone, and often reads more orange than looks appealing. By bringing the “Orange” Saturation slider down a bit, I have a more natural and fresh looking subject.
In the image below, I destatureated the orange and reduced the Orange Luminance, as the cake looked too orange when it was in fact a golden brown.
You can also emphasize colour in Lightroom by desaturating the surrounding colours.
Luminance refers to the reflective brightness of colours.
With the luminance sliders, you can make colours brighter to make them stand out more, or darker to subdue them.
Depending on how bright the color was to start with, reducing luminance might also increase saturation. On the other hand, increasing it may reduce saturation.
Note that sometimes your colours may end up looking a bit strange if you adjust Luminance too much. A subtle hand is usually all that’s needed.
Luminance is a great tool to make your image ‘pop’.
So to sum up:
Hue > targets the varieties of shades that exist within a given colour range
Saturation > targets the strength of a colour
Luminance > deals with the brightness of a colour
In Lightroom, the HSL and Color tabs are essentially the same, but with the sliders arranged in a different order.
In the Color tab, the sliders are grouped in eight colours. You work on each colour individually, one at a time.
The HSL tab groups the colour sliders into Hue, Saturation and Luminance rather than by colour only. This is also where you can find the Targeted Adjustment Tool.
The Targeted Adjustment Tool allows you to target your colours more precisely than using the sliders. When you’re looking at the sliders, it’s hard to say exactly which hue you might need or end up with.
Most of the hues within your photos fall somewhere between the colour sliders in the HSL tab.
To use this tool:
- Click on the Targeted Adjustment Tool icon.
- Lay the crosshair over the hue you want so you can adjust it by moving your mouse.
- Click and hold the left mouse button down while you move the mouse upwards to replace the hues underneath the crosshairs with neighbouring colours from the colour wheel. Lightroom will automatically move the colour sliders in whatever combination is required to adjust the targeted colour.
To adjust the sliders in the HSL/Color panel, drag the slider to the left or right with your mouse.
To make adjustments in small increments, hover over the slider with your mouse and use the >Up and >Down arrows on the keyboard.
To make adjustments in large increments, hold down >Shift while hitting >Up or >Down. You can also type in a specific number to make adjustments.
To reset adjustments made, just >double-click on the slider. When you double-click on the slider, it resets back to 0.
Some people feel more comfortable working in the Color panel when first learning Lightroom, as it can be less overwhelming. However, it give you less control over the results in your final image.
The B&W Section Related to The HSL/Color Panel
There is also a section related to HSL/Color Panel called B&W, which stands for Black and White.
The Black and White Mix allows you to shift luminance levels because you can’t shift colours or saturation when you’re in “black and white” because technically, there are no colours or saturation in a black and white image
However, you can still affect the actual luminance levels in the image to create a certain look.
In the B&W section, we also have the Adjustment Point Tool. We can select this tool and go over a certain area and adjust to get the balance we need for our black and white mix.
Note that here is also an Auto button in the Black & White section. However, using this button is not recommend because Lightroom will try to “guess” the correct black and white mix, which can be incorrect and not give you the best result.
To activate the B&W panel, go to the Basic Panel and click on Black and White. The HSL Pavel will be replaced by the B&W panel.
Hopefully this article has helped you understand how to make adjustments in the HSL Panel, as well as to understand how different adjustments can affect your images.
Colour is one of the most powerful factors in our photographs. Learning to work with colour correctly while editing will help you take your images to the next level.