For Photographers: Using HSL Sliders in Lightroom

For Photographers

June 9, 2015

How to use the HSL Sliders in Lightroom for Wedding photographers

This time of year is such a beautiful time to photograph. Everything is coming back to life and it’s finally warm enough to be outdoors for more than a minute or two without freezing to death. If it weren’t for the fact that I have allergies, this would definitely be my favorite time of year.

Despite the beautiful weather and all of the pretty scenery this time of year, I’ve noticed one thing that the photographer in me doesn’t really love all that much. And that’s how YELLOW the grass and the trees can look. They look particularly yellow this time of year as they’re just now coming back, but they can look even more neon depending on what the sun situation is. My favorite way to photograph is by exposing for the skin tone of my couples, but sometimes that can create bright yellow green tones in the grass and other foliage.

Basic tips for using HSL in Lightroom for Wedding Photographers

I used to not really do much editing to my photos other than correcting white balance and bumping exposure, maybe adding a little contrast here and there, and bringing down the highlights. But to get the colors where you need them to be, sometimes you need to take things a step further. Enter, the HSL tab!

Back when I was a newer photographer, the HSL tab was kind of intimidating to me becauseI didn’t really know what it did. If you’re like I was and not entirely sure how to use it to edit your images, here’s a little breakdown of what the HSL tabs do.


Hue controls the actual color of a color. Slide the tab in one direction to make all of the greens look more yellow, slide it in another to make them look a bit more blue in hue. Make sense? To make your grass greener and less freakishly neon, you can drag the slider a bit to the blue side. I’ve also used the hue tab if a skin tone looks a bit too orange. We’ll talk about skin tones a bit more in a minute.


Saturation is basically the degree of intensity of a color. If you were to remove all saturation from an image, it would be colorless and essentially black and white. You can move the slider one way to get a much more intense, vibrant color, or the other way to tone it down a bit. For a fix for yellow grass, I’d bring down the saturation of the green tab so the green is not such a dominant color. If someone has an orange skin tone (maybe a bit too much spray tan?) you can bring town the saturation a touch. You have to be careful though because if you bring it down TOO much, the person’s skin will start to look orange.


I probably toy with luminance the most. Luminance is the actual darkness or lightness of a particular color.  For the green grass, I’d bring the luminance up a bit so that the grass is lighter looking and less dark and dense. This is a great way to brighten up a portion of the image (like the grass) without bumping up the overall exposure of the image too much so that the rest is over exposed. Going back to potentially orange skin tones, I usually brighten the luminance on the orange slider when this happens because it will brighten the orange tones and make them look less oompa loompa like.

This is what the grass looked like straight out of camera. SO yellow and neon. It’s almost distracting!

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With some tweaks, this is what the grass looks like now! Much more natural looking.

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These are just two scenarios in which the HSL tabs are really helpful, but there are tons of reasons you might use these awesome little sliders! Lots of photographers use these sliders to create their own signature “look” in all of their images. I would suggest playing around with the tabs and getting really comfortable with them. Try new things! I think it’s really important to get to know Lightroom well and know exactly what all of the functions do instead of just trying to apply presets and not really being sure what they’re doing to your images. Been there, done that.

Hopefully this post was helpful! Feel free to reach out via a comment here or an email if you have questions!

Leave a Comment

  1. Justin halbert

    November 5th, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    Thanks for the tips. I’m going to try the luminance slider for the orange skin tones. Never thought of that????

  2. Sofija

    May 10th, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    Very helpful, thank you!

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