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Make Blooming Flowers More Vibrant With Lightroom’s HSL Tools

In Lightroom’s Develop module lives a tab with the cryptic letters HSL. This tab, as you may infer from some contextual clues, allows you to modify the color. So those letters stand for Hue, Saturation and Luminance. By modifying these three sets of sliders, amazing color control can be as easy as the click of a button. That’s why this is the perfect tool to use when you want to make skies more blue, or give a little more vibrance to flowers coming into bloom.

Make Blooming Flowers More Vibrant With Lightroom’s HSL Tools

For the latter example, I began with a picture a friend had sent me. Shot when the trees were in peak bloom, she and her fiancé wanted to give the rosy pink blooms on the tree behind them a brighter, more vibrant look, with a slightly more purple hue. Using the HSL tools, it’s a snap.

Make Blooming Flowers More Vibrant With Lightroom’s HSL Tools

First, with the image open in Lightroom’s Develop Module, I clicked on the HSL panel to reveal a set of color-matched sliders. Instead of jumping immediately to the individual sliders under each letter of the heading, I started with Hue and used one of my favorite little Lightroom tools—the target tool. Represented by a tiny bull’s-eye, this tool can be placed anywhere on a scene element with color you’d like to modify. So by simply clicking and dragging on the light pink flowers, I adjusted the hue until it was a more purple hue. Next I clicked over to the Saturation heading, selected the tool again and clicked and dragged on the flowers to make them a more vibrant shade of pink. And lastly, using the Luminosity control, I adjust the brightness of the flowers just by dragging the Target tool back and forth. In each case, the adjustments can—and should—be fine tuned by clicking and dragging on the individual sliders you know each element contains. So for instance, I clicked on the red slider under Saturation, and boosted the red-specific saturation until it met with approval from my customer. Then I did the same for the lightness of the magenta and red channels, and finally resumed to fine tune the pink/red/purple hues based on what I saw on my computer screen.


If any of these adjustments happened to impact other areas of the scene as well, the fix is fairly simple: load the original files in Photoshop and layer the original with the new brighter colored one. Then simply use the layer masking tools to mask away the newly modified layer in all areas other than the area in need of colorization in the first place. In the end, with the ease of the Target tool and the simple specificity of the Hue, Saturation and Luminance sliders, real, useful color control is easy to do.

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