Lightroom Ultimate Guide – Master HSL

This article covers the Lightroom HSL (Hue, Saturation & Luminance) control panel in Lightroom Classic. Generally speaking when post-processing images in Lightroom, you:

Having done that, 95% of the time, your job is complete. However, there are cases when you need to make tonal adjustments to a specific colour grouping. This may be, for instance:

  • You want to enhance specific colours, for example in a golden hour shot.
  • You need to correct a colour that looks tonally unbalanced.

Lightroom HSL & Color

The Lightroom HSL & Color panel is located in the Develop module and then scroll down past the Basic and Tone Curve panels. As its name suggests, the panel is split into a section on HSL and one on Color. Both sections do exactly the same thing, we will cover each one in turn; firstly the HSL panel.

HSL panel


Lightroom HSL - Hue


Lightroom HSL - Saturation


Lightroom HSL - Luminance

The HSL panel consists of four tabs. One each for Hue, Saturation and Luminance, and the fourth which shows all the Hue, Saturation & Luminance sliders in one scrollable window. The layout is the same for each, in that you get a set of sliders for each of the colours in the ROYGABPM (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Aqua, Blue, Purple, Magenta) spectrum.

  • Hue: These sliders target the shades of colour in your image. The hue change is independent of the intensity of a colour or how dark or light it is.
  • Saturation: These sliders target the intensity of colour. The change is independent of the shade of colour, or how light or dark the colour is.
  • Luminance: These sliders target darkness/lightness of a colour in your image, and is independent of its shades or intensity of colour
Saturation Tab

In the following example, we have an image that we previously processed using Tone Curves and Presence Tool panels, and has rendered the blues just a bit too saturated.

Using the Saturation tab, we can easily adjust this by targeting the Blue slider and reducing the slider slightly. One point of note here and this is from personal experience.

I typically avoid moving any of the sliders outside of the range -30 to +30, as the result tends to end up looking unnatural. Of course, this is just personal preference and depends on what type of image you are processing. Anyway, here is the before-after for the saturation adjustment above.


Draggable Pipette

Lightroom HSL

There is another really useful tool in the HSL panel. It doesn’t appear to have an official name from Adobe, so for the sake of description let’s call it a draggable pipette. You initiate it by left-clicking the small icon at the left of the HSL panel, as indicated on the figure to the left.

Basically, from either Hue, Saturation or Luminance tab, you select the draggable pipette. Then, select the colour you want to edit directly on your image. Left-click and drag the pipette either down or up, to respectively reduce or increase the colour range you just selected.

Here is a very short video demonstrating how to use the draggable pipette. In the video, we demonstrate how to adjust the saturation and hue in a sunset image using HSL.

Color Panel

Color Panel

As alluded above, the Color Panel, which is accessed by left-clicking the “Color” text at the top of the panel; does the same as the HSL Panel. The main difference is that the ROYGABPM controls are radio buttons along the top of the panel, and there are sliders each for Hue, Saturation & Luminance. The Color Panel additionally doesn’t include the draggable pipette.

The Color Panel includes a multi-colour radio button which gives you a scrollable list of ROYGABPM colours with HSL sliders for each.

Lightroom HSL & Color Panel Conclusions

In terms of post-processing, you can just select a panel layout that suits your personal workflow style. Hopefully, this guide has been useful to you, to indicate how you can include Luminar HSL adjustments into your post-processing workflow.

Check out other articles in our Ultimate Guide to Adobe Lightroom. Here are some which may interest you.

White Balance
Master White Balance

White Balance is a scale of the primary colour intensities. When post-processing it is important to render neutral colours correctly.

Lightroom Tone Curves
Lightroom Tone Curves

If you can master Lightroom Tone Curves, you will never need to purchase another Lightroom preset. With a little practice and experimentation, you will soon be a Tone Curve champion.

Lightroom Presence
Lightroom Presence
(Saturation & Texture)

The Lightroom Presence sliders enable you to adjust the texture and saturation of your images, and are part of the standard controls used in post-processing


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