How to use the HSL Lightroom panel

How to use the HSL Lightroom panel

The HSL/Color/BW tab in Adobe Lightroom can be used for lots of reasons when editing. One of my favorite ways to start a clean edit in Lightroom is with the Color tab. It can be used for a variety of things including brightening skin tone, adjust specific colors and their saturation as well as increasing or decreasing the luminosity of specific colors.

For this example, I decided to use an image of my daughter from this summer. Here in Texas we get a lot of orange in our sunsets – I have been told that it is due to the humidity here… which I can believe. While I love a nice warm sunset sometimes the orange can be overpowering.

To start with I opened the image in Lightroom. Here is the original prior to any edits:

photography tutorial on using the HSL panel in Adobe Lightroom by Jennifer Dell

From here, in order to remove some of the overpowering orange in the sunset and haze, I open up the color tab.

how remove orange with the HSL panel in Lightroom

Then I slide the saturation slider under “orange” to -20 to take out some of the orange tones.

removing too much orange in LR tutorial

After I have removed some of the orange saturation, I then go back and use the luminosity slider to brighten the image up a bit. This is a great way to also brighten up skin just a little. All skin tones have a little bit of orange in them, so this is a quick easy way to lift them up a little and give them a little bit of a healthy glow. In this particular image I only upped the orange luminosity to +15. For an over all adjustment, like on this photo, I typically don’t go past +20, but it depends on the image. For boosting skin really quickly, I don’t go past +15.

boosting skin tone with the HSL panel in Lightroom tutorial

For this photo I also decided to enhance the color of the grass on the sand dunes. To do that I went down to the yellow slider and changed the hue by sliding it to the right +9. I also increased the saturation +15 on the yellow to add a little more oomph.

how to enhance color in Lightroom

Since I really want this photo to have that soft, dreamy sunlit haze look, I also bump up the luminosity in the yellows to +20. This give the grass a little bit of a glow as well and enhances what the sun was already doing naturally.

emphasizing backlit photos in Lightroom

Here is a quick screen shot of what the Color panel looked like after the adjustments were made.

color adjustments in Lightroom

After I’ve done this, I take the image into Photoshop to polish it off just a little bit.

  1. Bumped mid tones a bit and reversed the mask to only brush on my daughter.
  2. Increased saturation to +10.
  3. Added a soft pink fill layer set to hard light and reduced to 10%.
  4. Curves layer set to soft light and reduced to 10%.
  5. Curves layer set to multiply and reversed to mask set to 15% and brushed in a vignette where I wanted.

how to use the HSL panel in Adobe Lightroom tutorial by Jennifer Dell

photography tutorial on using the HSL panel in Adobe Lightroom by Jennifer Dell

sponsored giveaway!

Congratulations to Christine who said, “Be who you are. Thanks so much!”!  Christine, I will email you shortly on how to obtain your prize!

Thank you to My Photo App for sponsoring today’s blog post!  They are giving away a 1 year subscription to MyPhotoApp ($199 value) and a $50 starbucks gift card to one random winner.  Simply comment below with your favorite business tip to be entered.  The winner will be announced here on this post next Friday February 1st at noon EST so make sure and come back to see if you’re the lucky person!

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About the Author:

Armed with a Nikon D4 and an assortment of prime lenses, Jennifer enjoys photographing children and families in her own style, candid and full of natural expressions. Jennifer’s photography venture began in high school and was then encouraged in college as she pursued her graphic design degree. She also enjoys the show Friends, coffee, a nice bottle of wine, and spending time with her family including her husband and children. Visit Jennifer Dell online.


  1. Carrie Jan 25 2013 at 11:22 am - Reply

    I’m pretty new to the business…but I guess my tip would be always make sure you know your location (and have shot there at least once) before taking your clients there. It also helps to have a plan for the session before you get there so even if you don’t use the whole plan you will have ideas to fall back on.

  2. Melissa Stottmann Jan 25 2013 at 12:05 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the great tutorial Jennifer!

  3. Wendie Jan 25 2013 at 12:05 pm - Reply

    The best advice I’ve ever been given is always arrive early and never limit your shoot…I’m there till we are both happy with the outcome of the shoot. I always leave with a smile and a hug

  4. Lacey Jan 25 2013 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    That was so helpful Jennifer! Thanks!

  5. missy Jan 25 2013 at 2:34 pm - Reply

    Come prepared!!! extra batteries, cleaning cloths, props,etc

  6. Erika Jan 25 2013 at 4:23 pm - Reply

    My business tip would be something my father once said to me “Know what business you are in.”

  7. Carrie Jan 25 2013 at 4:43 pm - Reply

    Great tutorial! Use the slow winter months for some education time.

  8. Lindsay Jan 25 2013 at 9:41 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing! Best advice that I have been given, always remember what type of customer service that you want…and then go above that!

  9. Cblayloc Jan 25 2013 at 10:58 pm - Reply

    Be true to yourself.

  10. mary Jan 25 2013 at 11:21 pm - Reply

    Love what you do!

  11. Color J Jan 25 2013 at 11:36 pm - Reply

    My business tip would be to make your price and simple and easy to understand as possible.

  12. Paula Jan 26 2013 at 12:11 am - Reply

    My business tip is… Start small, build up your equipment as the business grows. I’m happy for taking my time in trying new techniques and for getting to know my customers.

  13. JessicaV Jan 26 2013 at 7:00 am - Reply

    My tip is to be completely honest with clients. I’ve had to tell clients that I’ve never done maternity or senior shoots. They appreciated my honesty and chose to work with me anyway. It was all good stuff.

  14. johanna Jan 26 2013 at 11:21 am - Reply

    Thank you!!! Please do more posts like this!! They are so helpful, I am new to the business and these posts are so valuable to me!

  15. Christine McKeel Jan 26 2013 at 12:56 pm - Reply

    Be who you are. Thanks so much!

  16. Conni Marleau Jan 26 2013 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    My best business tip is to believe in yourself and your ‘product’, your talent, your gift.
    If you believe in your talent and exude confidence your clients will value you.
    If you treat each client as they are the most important clients you have … regardless of what you think they may buy or not buy … your session will be carefree and genuine … when the client see the ‘real’ them in the photos that is the biggest reward.

  17. Patti Jan 26 2013 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    Make sure you have your legal ducks in a row including insurance!

  18. Nicole Jan 27 2013 at 11:59 am - Reply

    A tip I’ve been thinking about all week is one I heard from Leah Rimellet this week: before you spend money ask will this save me time? Will this save me money? Unless the answer is yes, don’t buy it.

  19. Emmy Jan 27 2013 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    Such a pretty warm image. My best business tip is to be true to you. If you don’t know who you are yet and are just copying others you will not enjoy your business and probably not be successful.

  20. Danielle Frank Jan 27 2013 at 5:18 pm - Reply

    Have confidence in your work and your prices!

  21. Rebecca F. Jan 27 2013 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    For every 1 photography book you read, read 3 business books. I thought that was some good advice.

  22. Lisa Benemelis Jan 27 2013 at 10:50 pm - Reply

    This was so helpful, Jen. Thank you. 🙂

  23. AbbyWarm Jan 27 2013 at 11:26 pm - Reply

    Always strive to learn new things! Thanks for the tutorial 🙂

  24. Jenn L Jan 28 2013 at 8:59 am - Reply

    I am just getting into LR again so thank you for this tutorial, love the shot! My business tip would be to keep learning – there is always something new to learn to continue to grow and improve upon your skills and your business.

  25. Jamie K Jan 28 2013 at 3:57 pm - Reply

    Market to your target audience. If you enjoy senior shoots – become engaged at the school, etc… I like Carrie’s suggestion too. Knowing your locations, especially how they look at given times of the day/season is so important. Make sure you visit your sites the day of, or day before, to make sure there are no obstacles to shooting there – event going on, venue closed, poor conditions, etc…

  26. Reagan Geddes Jan 30 2013 at 11:27 pm - Reply

    Best business advice….Never leave home without your business card!

  27. Joanna Nimeck Satel Jan 31 2013 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    Great tutorial. Thanks. My advise is what my husband keeps telling me, don’t over-commit, know what you can do and don’t over-promise to a client. That aside, keep practicing so you can deliver for the next client.

  28. Stephanie Jan 31 2013 at 2:21 pm - Reply

    This was a great, quick tutorial. My best advice is to carry a PFA (prepared for anything) bag – as I call it. Aside from the obvious, it always best to keep a bag with small item like travel sized hairspray or gel, a mini hairbrush, hair pins, safety pins, baby wipes (seriously, these babies aren’t just for babies!), water and anything else that sparks your mind as an emergency need.

  29. Emmy Feb 01 2013 at 8:04 pm - Reply

    Okay– so it is past the time,I just dying with curiosity to know who won and if I keep missing it for some reason?

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