Free Photography Tutorials, Beginners to Advanced

Adobe Camera RAW - using the HSL/Grayscale Tab - Page 2

by Dan Moughamian - web reproduction rights granted to

Note that we’re only moving the sliders to their extreme values here, in order to make the examples easier to see. For your own images, you will want to move the hue sliders in combination, and use more subtle values in many cases. The larger the region of color, the less you will have to move the slider to make a visual impact. The converse is also true. Very small areas of color require more extreme slider movements to have a visual impact.

Below I have created a final hue adjustment (there is more work to do with HSL at this stage!) that includes multiple hue shifts of varying magnitude. This creates a more striking, though somewhat less realistic look than a photographic “purist” might like, but very attractive nonetheless.

Adobe Camera RAW - using the HSL/Grayscale Tab

The Saturation Tab

Now we will look at the Saturation tab. As mentioned in the previous section, saturation effects the purity of a specific region of color Saturation controls are common in image editing software but very few products offer the level of control and non-destructive benefits of the HSL panel in Adobe Camera Raw.

This is another area where shooting Raw files from your camera can pay dividends, by allowing you to improve regions of saturation without degrading file quality as you will often see when altering JPEGs in this way.

The Saturation tab and its sliders work on exactly the same principle as the Hue sliders. As you might expect, if you have found there is no reason to move a particular hue slider (because said slider has no effect on your image), there is generally no reason to move the corresponding Saturation slider either.

Below you will see that I have made adjustments only to the same sliders I used in the Hues tab, and again have combined them in different “proportions” to create the photographic look I am targeting. You can see the formerly dull image start to “come to life”.

Adobe Camera RAW - using the HSL/Grayscale Tab

Now let’s take a look at the final piece of the puzzle for color image corrections in HSL.

The Luminance Tab

Luminance refers to the lightness or perceived brightness of the colors we are targeting in the HSL panel. Again, you need to adjust only those sliders which have an effect in the Hue and Saturation tabs, and in many cases you may only need to adjust one or two of them.

Important: if you wish to more heavily saturate a given area, it can often be wiser to use a combination of increased saturation value and decreased luminance, rather than pushing saturation to very high levels (which is normally a bad idea in any software program).

Below, I have decreased the orange luminance a bit (because oranges were the most in need of saturation), and for contrast I increased the luminance of the yellow sands (and lighter rocks), as well as the green trees and shrubs. Similarly I decreased the blue luminance to tone down the large swath of blue water, and increased dramatically the little sliver of aquas to make the shoreline stand out.

Adobe Camera RAW - using the HSL/Grayscale Tab

Often the 'Luminance' sliders will produce the most subtle of the three effects, but they’re very important in creating just the right contrast between image elements. You can really see a difference once you get the image up on your screen, rather than looking at relatively small screen shots!

Other tutorials in this section

Photo Editing

Introduction page.

camera icon

Scaling your files.

camera icon

Balancing those pixels.

camera icon camera icon

Dealing with color casts.

camera icon camera icon
Processing RAW Files

An introduction to Adobe Camera RAW.

camera icon camera icon
Processing RAW Files using HSL

Advanced use of Adobe Camera RAW.

camera icon camera icon camera icon

Using the unsharp mask.

camera icon camera icon
Using the Quick Mask

Masking parts of your picture to edit certain areas.

camera icon camera icon
Adjustment Layer Masks

How to build accurate layer masks.

camera icon camera icon camera icon
Straightening Horizons

A must for landscape and building photographers.

camera icon camera icon
Replacing Boring Skies

Using layers in Photoshop.

camera icon camera icon
Using the Channel Mixer

How to make a better job of changing images from color to black & white.

camera icon camera icon
Using Curves on Adjustment Layers

Playing with contrast and tones to give a more dramatic effect.

camera icon camera icon camera icon
High Dynamic Range

How to shoot and process HDR pictures with Photomatix Pro software.

camera icon camera icon camera icon
Back to the main 'Photography Tutorials' page
Learn Digital Photography with Geoff Lawrence eBook

If you enjoyed this page you might
be interested in my eBook
Learn Photography with Geoff Lawrence