Have you ever taken a photo and wished that the skies would be darker and more blue? I do it all the time. Sure, I am a frequent user of polarizing filters but they only work well when the sun is at a certain angle to the direction in which the camera is pointed. So what is a sky-loving photographer to do?
Well, here’s a little secret that a lot of professional landscape photographers use to get their bluer than blue skies. It’s called the Hue Saturation Luminance, or HSL, adjustment tool and it is found in both Camera Raw and Lightroom. Here’s how it works; first, open your image in either application (I prefer Lightroom) and make all of your adjustments that you might normally do.
Then click on the HSL tab. Here’s the tab in Camera Raw -
and here it is in Lightroom -
I usually start with the Luminance section to darken the blue skies a bit. The next images will show you the slider set to zero for blue -
and now with it set to -45.
You can really see how moving that slider can make a huge difference. If you need a little more saturation, just click on the Saturation tab and move the blue slider in a positive direction.
I over did things a little bit here for the purpose of the demonstration but hopefully you can see the benefit of using the HSL sliders in your processing. And don’t stop with the skies, you can make adjustments to all sorts of things in your images. Need greener grass? It’s just an HSL adjustment away. Also, I didn’t cover the Hue tab but you can use it to change the color characteristics of hues within the image. And don’t forget that you can use the TAT (Targeted Adjustment Tool) to click right on a specific color in your image and then slide it back and forth to get the Hue, Saturation, and Luminance values that are just right for your image.
Here’s a shot of the image before the HSL was applied -
and here’s the after -