Just a few weeks ago, Adobe introduced several new updates to Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw. One of the most powerful tools, particularly for photographers who relish selective control, is Local Hue adjustment. This allows photographers to make everything from subtle tweaks on a portrait subject’s skin tone to wholesale from one color to another—all without impacting the white balance or even those exact same hues in other areas of the frame. Here’s how it works.
With the image to be modified selected in Lightroom’s Develop Module, use the standard Adjustment Brush to paint over the areas within the frame containing the color that you’d like to modify. It’s this step—selecting the specific areas in the frame to be modified—that provides the localized control so that a specific hue can be altered in one part of the frame and untouched in another.
From the Adjustment Brush palette, choose Range Mask at the bottom of the window and set it to Color. Then, use the eyedropper tool that appears to select the color you’d like to modify. Shift-clicking allows you to expand the color range, while the option key shows a scissors icon and permits you to cut out any of the previous eyedropper color selections and reduce the range. This masking step is crucial as it provides the ability to precisely, almost automatically, choose a range of colors within a defined area of the frame. It’s a Photoshop-style level of control, all within the Lightroom (or Adobe Camera Raw) interface.
With the appropriate color range selected, use the Hue slider (found midway down in both Lightroom’s and ACR’s Adjustment Brush palettes) to modify the selected color range—either a little or a lot. The top bar shows the color you’ve selected, and the bottom bar shows the new hue it will be changed to.
Unlike previous versions of hue adjustments in Lightroom and ACR (which limited the amount of change that could be applied to a color), this Local Hue adjustment provides for complete 360-degree modifications anywhere on the color wheel. That means not only can a pink be modified from purple to red, it can also become blue, yellow, green or any other color you like. Beware, though, that the larger the change, the weirder it’s likely to look. You may want to pair big shifts with a subtle desaturation or luminosity adjustment to help make the new color more palatable.
If your intent is more subtle hue modifications, check the “Use Fine Adjustment” checkbox found just below the Hue slider in order to constrain the adjustments. In this way, you can make small fine-tuning changes or wholesale reinvention of a scene all within the same simple tool.