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Color can often make or break a photo. Sometimes color is the exact reason that we took a picture in the first place and we want to get that color looking as good as possible. Sometimes, that means fine tuning individual colors, in order to make sure that each color looks accurate or optimal. We can of course start with white balance adjustments, and then perhaps adjust vibrance and saturation. But sometimes you might want to work on individual colors individually. And that's where the HSL, or color adjustments, come into play. HSL stands for Hue, Saturation, and Luminance, and those are three properties that we can use to describe a specific color.
Hue is what we think of the color itself. For example, red is a hue, orange is a hue, yellow is a hue. And we can, of course, shift between those different hues in order to change the appearance of a color. Saturation is the intensity of a color or how pure it is. The more vibrant a color looks, the more saturated it is. And luminense is the brightness of the color. Is the red very bright or very dark for example. HSL and color actually provide the same sliders. We can adjust hue saturation and luminese for each of the individual colors identified here, red, orange, yellow, green, aqua, blue, purple and magenta.
The only difference is how these sliders are presented. In HSL, we can choose to see the hue slider for each of the colors. We can choose to see the Saturation slider, again for each of the colors, or the Luminance slider for each of the colors. And we can even see all of those at once so that we have Hue sliders, Saturation sliders, and Luminance sliders. All available at the same time. If we switch to the Color Mode option, then we're able to organize the sliders based on the color. So we'll see Hue, Saturation and Luminance for the red color, or Hue, Saturation and Luminance for the orange color.
Or again, we can see all of the colors with the Hue, Saturation and Luminance sliders grouped based on color. I'll go ahead and switch back to HSL and I'll choose Hue initially so that we can take a look at the Hue sliders. This allows us to fine tune the hue for individual color ranges. So lets start with the greens for example. If I shift the greens to the left. You'll see that the foliage gets a little bit more yellow. And if I move it to the right. You'll see that it gets a little bit more cayenne. Almost starting to get a little bluish. Similarly, if I adjust the orange slider.
You'll see that those carrots start to get a little bit more yellow. Or a little bit more red. This could certainly be an interesting creative effect. But generally, were trying to create a relatively realistic result. And so this is a way to help improve those colors, just a little bit. Again with hue, were effectively shifting the value of the color, you can sort of think of it as a white balance adjustment or a color balance adjustment that only affects a very small range of color values within the image. Similarly, we can adjust saturation individually by color, so if I increase the saturation for orange you'll see that the carrots get much more intense. But the foliage, the top of the carrots, are not being affected at all. But I could adjust the greens obviously to adjust that foliage if I wanted to, either reducing it or increasing it as I see fit. And finally we can adjust luminance for each of those colors, so I could brighten or darken the carrots if I felt the need.
But generally speaking I'll limit myself to hue and saturation adjustments perhaps with a very, very minor luminance adjustment. But it's easy to get into trouble with those luminance adjustments on a per color basis, because it can start to make things look either washed out or a little bit too muddy. We also have an option to work directly on the image, so if I go to the Hue or Saturation or Luminance sections, I can choose the on image adjustment. Let's for example work with saturation. I'll go ahead and choose the Saturation option, click on the On-image adjustment control, and then I can move out into the image.
Notice as I move my mouse around the image, a particular value in the Saturation section will be highlighted. At the moment, for example, the green value is highlighted because my mouse is over a green pixel. If I move over an orange pixel, you'll see that the orange value is highlighted. I can then click and drag, upward to increase the value, or downward to decrease the value. In this case adjusting saturation, primarily for the orange. Notice however, that since that there's a little bit of red in this area, the red slider is also being effected, by this on image adjustment. So that's a great way to work directly with the image. You're paying attention to the images itself and deciding whether you want to increase or decrease saturation.
Whether you want to shift the hue or adjust the luminance, all focused on a specific and relatively narrow range of colors. Once you're finished with the On Image adjustment you can just click that icon once again and continue working on the sliders or move on to other adjustments. As you can see, the basic concepts behind the hue, saturation and luminance sliders. Are relatively straight forward, and yet, these sliders provide you with tremendous control over the colors in your photos.
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