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Adjusting Individual Colors Using HSL

If you want to make a global change to a particular color in your image (for example, let’s say you want all the reds to be redder, or the blue in the sky to be bluer), one place to do that would be the in the HSL panel (HSL stands for Hue, Saturation, and Luminance), and/or the Color panel (these are grouped with the B&W panel, but since we’re just focusing on boosting [or reducing] individual colors, we’ll cover the black-and-white part later in the book). Here’s how this works:

  • Step One: When you want to adjust an area of color, scroll down to the HSL panel in the right side Panels area (by the way, those words in the panel header, HSL/Color/B&W, are not just names, they’re buttons, and if you click on any one of them, the controls for that panel will appear). Go ahead and click on HSL (since this is where we’ll be working for now), and four buttons appear in the panel: Hue, Saturation, Luminance, and All. The Hue panel lets you change an existing color to a different color by using the sliders. Just so you can see what it does, click-and-drag the Yellow slider all the way to the left, and you’ll see it turns the yellow tachometer on this Ferrari orange. (In case you’re wondering, this isn’t my Ferrari. Mine’s much newer. Totally kidding—sadly, I don’t have a Ferrari.) Now press the Reset button (at the bottom of the Panels area) to undo your change.
  • Step Two: In this photo, the interior of this convertible Ferrari was in the shade, so there’s kind of a blue color cast on the steering wheel. If I changed the white balance, it would change the entire color of the image—I just want the blue out of the steering wheel. A perfect task for the HSL panel. So, to remove that blue, you’d click on the Saturation button at the top of the HSL panel. The same eight sliders stay in place, but now those sliders control the saturation of colors in your image. Just click-and-drag the Blue slider to the left until the blue is removed from the steering wheel (as shown here, where I dragged it all the way to the left).
  • Step Three: If you know exactly which color you want to affect, you can just grab the slider and click-and-drag it. But if you’re not sure which colors make up the area you want to adjust, then you can use the TAT (the same Targeted Adjustment tool you used back in the Tone Curve panel, but now you’re using it to adjust color, instead of contrast). Click on the TAT (shown circled in red here), then move your cursor over the yellow logo in the center of the steering wheel and click-and-drag upward to increase the color saturation. You’ll notice that it doesn’t just move the Yellow slider, but it also increases the Green Saturation slider, as well. You probably wouldn’t have realized that there was any green in the logo, and this is why this tool is so handy here. In fact, I rarely use the HSL panel without using the TAT!
  • Step Four: Now click on Luminance, at the top of the panel (this panel’s sliders control the overall lightness or darkness of the colors). To brighten up just the tachometer, take the TAT, move it over the tachometer, then click-and-drag straight upward, and the tach will start to brighten (the Luminance for the Orange and Yellow both increased). If you’re a Photoshop user, by now you’ve probably realized that this is pretty much a version of Photoshop’s Hue/Saturation feature, with the only real differences being that it uses two extra color sliders (Orange and Purple), Lightroom calls “L” Luminance, whereas Hue/Saturation in Photoshop calls it Lightness, and Lightroom has an Aqua slider rather than Cyan. Plus, of course, Lightroom has the TAT (which is nice). Two last things: Clicking the All button (at the top of the panel) puts all three sections in one scrolling list, and the Color panel breaks them all into sets of three for each color—a layout more like Photoshop’s Hue/Saturation. But, regardless of which layout you choose, they all work the same way.
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