3 Easy Ways to Improve Landscape Photos with Lightroom’s HSL Settings

Lightroom provides photographers with all kinds of options and potential for editing photos. Color is an important part of landscape and nature photography, and in Lightroom there are a lot of different ways that you can work with color. One of the best ways to get the most out of the colors in your photo is to use Lightroom’s HSL (hue, saturation, and luminance) sliders. The HSL sliders are often overlooked and under appreciated, but with a little bit of attention they can be extremely useful.

For landscape photography, more often than not, fine tuning with the HSL sliders will improve your photos in subtle ways rather than dramatic ways. In this article we’ll quickly look at 3 ways you can use the HSL sliders to improve landscape and nature photos.

1. Boost Blue Skies

The sky is an important element in most landscape photos, so if your photo’s sky is a little dull you can really improve the overall photo by giving the sky some extra life. Fortunately, this is pretty easy to do with the help of the HSL settings. Let’s take a look at the process with this sample photo.

improve landscape photos

To boost a blue sky you’ll want to reduce the blue luminance by moving the slider to the left, as shown below.

landscape photo

And then increase the blue saturation by moving the slider to the right.

lightroom workflow

Of course, the exact settings needed will vary from one photo to the next. Also, you will need some blue in the sky to start with. If the sky is completely white or gray adjusting the blue luminance and saturation won’t make a difference because there is no blue in the sky to adjust.

Here is the sample photo after the settings changes.

blue skies

2. Greener Greens

Of course, many landscape photos include a lot of green trees, grass, and other green foliage. Just like the blue skies, these greens can often be improved. The process of working with greens is pretty similar. Decrease the luminance, which darkens the greens.

greener greens lightroom

Increase the saturation.

increase saturation

And in some cases you may also want to increase the hue just a bit. Be careful here as even small changes can have a significant impact on the photo.

saturation flow

After those changes the sample photo looks like this.

lightroom presets

How far you want to push the sliders will depend on the strength of the effect that you want. In most cases subtle improvements will give you the best results while still maintaining a realistic, natural look.

3. Make Fall Colors Pop

Autumn is a favorite time of year for many landscape and nature photographers because of the amazing colors. Sometimes your photos, especially RAW files, may not have the same vibrant colors that your eyes saw at the scene. The HSL sliders also make it possible to bring these colors to life.

Let’s take a look at a different sample photo.

fall colors

Now, to boost the autumn colors you can change the saturation and luminance sliders. Let’s start by increasing saturation.

fall colors

And then decreasing luminance.

hl settings lightroom

One of the great things about working with the HSL settings is that you have full control over how strong or subtle you want the effect to be.

Here is the sample photo after the changes.

fall colors pop

That covers three easy ways that you can start using the HSL settings to enhance your landscapes in Lightroom. If you’d like to have some presets that do the work for you, the Landscape Legend Lightroom Presets include one-click and stackable workflow presets that will apply these types of changes to the settings.

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