Sometimes the colors in your image aren’t quite right and it’s not all of them but perhaps one in particular. White balance, saturation and vibrance adjustments affect the whole image, so how do you target specific colors? In Lightroom it’s easy.
For this you simply need the Color Mixer panel in Lightroom or the HSL panel in Lightroom Classic. They’re the same thing even though the names are different. This is one of the simple editing processes that makes Lightroom so effective as a photo enhancement tool. (You can achieve the same results in DxO PhotoLab, ON1 Photo RAW, Capture One and others.)
You CAN simply choose the closest color in Lightroom’s Color panel and adjust that, but you’ll get a much more targeted result with the Color Mixer/HSL panel and the targeted adjustment tool. Look for the button in the top corner of the panel.
In this example I’ll use Lightroom, but it’s much the same in Lightroom Classic.
For this shot of the beautiful Trevi Fountain in Rome, taken by Michele Bitetto, let’s just intensify. the warm afternoon sunlight on the wall in the background.
First, decide whether you want to adjust the targeted color’s luminance (brightness), its saturation or its hue. Often you might want to do all three, but it’s simplest to do these one-by-one.
Now just drag on an area with that color in your photo – you drag left/right in Lightroom and up/down in Lightroom Classic. You’ll see the color change live, as you drag. If there’s no effect, you probably haven’t got the mouse pointer precisely over the color you want to change. In Lightroom, as you drag you’ll see a slider appear under the mouse pointer to show you the shift in the color’s hue, saturation or lightness.
You’ll also see a tool strip at the bottom of the screen that lets you swap quickly between Hue, Saturation and Lightness adjustments instead of having to go back to the panel sidebar.
How to adjust colors in Lightroom
Time needed: 1 minute
- Decide whether you want to adjust a color’s Hue, Saturation or Luminance (lightness)
- Select the Targeted Adjustment tool
- Click on an area of color and drag to change that color’s appearance
- A floating panel at the bottom of the screen lets you swap quickly between Hue, Saturation and Luminance adjustments
Shifting individual colors in this way is easy and very effective, and it’s a great way to enhance images subtly in ways that the other tools don’t allow. You don’t even need to create any masks because these tools target specific color ranges only.
Here’s the edited image. I’ve also shifted the hue in the stonework towards a more pink/violet color. It’s a relatively subject color shift but note how the rest of the colors in the photo are unchanged, including the intense aqua/blue color of the water in the fountain.
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