How to Use the Lightroom HSL Panel for Landscape Photo Editing

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If you are a landscape photographer, you might already be using various lens filters to get desired colors and saturation in your images. What if you do not own these filters or forget to carry them along? There is a tool in Adobe Lightroom can help you.

The HSL (Hue, Saturation, and Luminance) tool is a savior for all photographers, especially those shooting landscapes. This is because the HSL tool allows you to adjust the hue, saturation, and luminance in your photos very efficiently.

Where is HSL Panel located in Lightroom?

First, you have to make sure that you are working on the Develop module, in order to access the HSL tool.

How to Use the Lightroom HSL Panel for Landscape Photo Editing - develop module

Once you are in the develop module, you can now see all the toolbars on the right-hand side of the window. Simply scroll down a bit until you see the “HSL / Color / B&W” panel. As you will be working on the HSL tool, just click on the “HSL” tab.

How to Use the Lightroom HSL Panel for Landscape Photo Editing - HSL panel

Using the Hue Sliders in HSL

The first tool that we shall be discussing is the Hue tab, which as the name suggests allows you to adjust the hue (or color tint) of a photo. Hue enables you to adjust the tones ranging from -100 to +100. In simple language, you can change the tone/tint of a particular color in a photo, but within the hue range. By default, Lightroom allows you to play with the hue of eight default colors as shown in the photo below.

For example, if you look at the comparison below the original color of the sky was blue (middle image below). So if I adjust the blue slider and take it all the way to -100, the color shifts from blue to a somewhat greenish color. Similarly, if I take the slider all the way to +100 the color shifts towards a magenta tone.

hue adjustments - How to Use the Lightroom HSL Panel for Landscape Photo Editing

Hue adjustments with the Blue slider.

I know it looks disastrous, but this extreme example gives you an idea of how you can use the Hue tool when required. Let me share a perfect example with you that I achieved using the Hue adjustments.

How to Use the Lightroom HSL Panel for Landscape Photo Editing

LEFT: Original image RIGHT: Color corrected using the Hue tool

Using the Saturation Sliders in HSL

Now once you are done adjusting the hue of the colors that you desire, you can move on to the saturation tab in the HSL panel. We all love saturation in landscape photos especially in the sky, don’t we?

Using the saturation tab, you can adjust the intensity of a particular color from the list of eight default colors. Unlike the saturation slider in the Basic LR panel where the whole photo gets affected, here you can selectively adjust the saturation of a single color.

Suppose you want to boost the saturation of blue color in the sky, simply drag the blue slider towards the right and see the magic. If you wish to make it less saturated, mode the slider towards the left and experiment with selective coloring effect.

Similarly, you can perform repeated actions using different colors in your frame and get a well-saturated photo.

How to Use the Lightroom HSL Panel for Landscape Photo Editing - blue saturation slider

The blue saturation slider on the HSL panel in action.

Using the Luminance Sliders in HSL

The last tool from the HSL panel is Luminance, which allows you to adjust the brightness of a particular color tone. So basically you can increase or reduce the brightness of a color by adjusting the Luminance slider.

There are situations when the sky is way brighter than the mountains or your subject, or maybe your subject is brighter than other elements of your frame. Using the luminance sliders, you can balance the brightness of the scene.

For instance, in the photo below, the sky is overexposed and I want the blue color to be dark in order to get more contrast in the sky. Using the Luminance tool I adjusted the blur color slider to -80 to get the desired result as shown below.

How to Use Lightroom HSL Settings for Landscape Photo Editing

Choosing Colors Manually in HSL

There are chances that the color that you want to choose to adjust the Hue, Saturation, or Luminance is not amongst the eight default colors. No worries, you can still adjust the HSL settings using a special feature called the Targeted Adjustment Tool which is located on the HSL toolbar itself (as shown in red below).

How to Use Lightroom HSL Settings for Landscape Photo Editing

The targeted adjustment tool is highlighted in red.

Simply tap on the icon and take it over to the exact spot where you wish to adjust the hue, saturation,  or luminance. Now click and hold at that point in your frame and drag the mouse up/down to adjust the sliders automatically.

Some colors are a mix of two or more primary colors, so you may see multiple sliders being adjusted when you click and drag the mouse. For example, green grass isn’t always just green, it usually has a lot of yellow in it as well.

Final Words

Hue, saturation, and luminance play an important rule in landscape photo color correction, do you agree? Using the HSL sliders, you get a lot more flexibility as you can perform better color correction based on particular colors.

Be it changing the hue of trees from green to orange, boosting the saturation of the sky, or adjusting the luminance of the scene, the HSL tool in Lightroom takes care of it pretty well.

Read more from our Post Production category

Kunal Malhotra is a photography enthusiast whose passion for photography started 6 years back during his college days. Kunal is also a photography blogger, based out of Delhi, India. He loves sharing his knowledge about photography with fellow aspiring photographers by writing regular posts on his blog. Some of his favorite genres of photography are product, street, fitness, and architecture.

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