How to Create Dynamic Photos Using Your Photo Editor’s HSL Sliders

HSL (hue, saturation, brightness) sliders are available in many photo editors. They are usually offered as an option when editing RAW files, although they can also be accessed as filters in programs such as Photoshop.

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to use HSL sliders to create dynamic photos, regardless of the photo editing software you use.

What are HSL sliders?

Website Hue Saturation Brightness available in many photo editing programs. If they are not grouped as specific HSL sliders, they are almost always found as separate sliders in one form or another. HSL sliders do this.


Hue sliders can change the colors in an image by adjusting them a few degrees left or right on the color wheel. While you can’t customize the color like changing red to green, you can move them around for dramatic results.

Using the Reds Hue slider, we’ll move all the reds in the image above to the left (-100).

Color -100

Still using the Reds slider, we’ll move it to the right (+100).

Color +100-1

As you can see, it is possible to completely change the rich color image with just one shade slider.


Saturation is the amount of color in a given color. Changing the saturation sliders increases or decreases the amount of color.

Let’s move the yellow slider to -100.

Yellow -100-1

And here the yellows are the image boosted to +100.

Yellow +100-2

Notice how the saturation isn’t completely removed or pushed too far? There is a certain limit so that the values ​​do not go too far relative to the rest of the colors.


Luminance is the brightness of a color. For this example, we’ll push the Blues slider to -100 to darken them.

Blues -100

Now let’s change the Blues to +100 to lighten them up.

Blues +100-1

HSL sliders are a great way to make dramatic changes without going overboard.

Using HSL cursors

HSL sliders can be intimidating for beginners because there are so many options. Even photo editing professionals can skip HSL sliders when working with RAW files because they perform color grading as the last step in the workflow.

For the purposes of our tutorial, we’ll take a very general approach to the topic. So it doesn’t matter if you’re working with a RAW or JPEG (or whatever) file, or if you’re at some point in your workflow when you start using HSL sliders.

There is nothing wrong with editing images without a general strategy. Sometimes it can be very liberating not to think about it beforehand and edit as you go. But if you want to have a basic strategy, consider a topic-based approach.


The goal of portrait editing is usually to make the person really stand out from the background. For the image below, you can colorize the subject and adjust the background separately using HSL.

In Lightroom, there are several ways to change the color of an object, for example, to make a selection, so you can work on different areas of your photo separately.

Portrait of a woman on a colored background

But for this shot, we used HSL globally to target the reds, oranges, and yellows (affecting the entire image), lowering the saturation values ​​while increasing the brightness of each color. Instead of blending into the background, the subject looks more natural and stands out.

HSL cursors in portrait

Let’s take the same theme-focused approach and look at how HSL sliders can be used strategically to enhance any of your photos, taking examples from a few popular photography genres.


If you don’t highlight people in your photos, it can be a little difficult to tell what the real subject is, if any. But in some genres, like landscapes, there are common scenes where HSL sliders are perfect.

Landscape example

The sky is very important to many landscape photographers, and many modify or completely replace it. You can replace any sky in Photoshop, but for our image we’ll keep the sky and use the HSL sliders to darken it and add more blue.

Sky view

Grasses, trees and greenery are common sights in many landscapes. We can use the HSL sliders to completely change the yellow and green colors. With the Hue sliders, we moved the greens and yellows, added saturation and lowered the brightness values.

green landscape

You can also use Luminar AI to create magical scenes.

Photographs of products and objects

Example of products and objects

Product and general object photography lends itself well to HSL slider manipulation, as global adjustments work more for the entire image with little or no masking. Using the three groups of HSL sliders, you can completely change the colors and the overall mood.

Fixed products and objects in HSL

If you regularly take photos of objects, our guide on how to make multiple copies of an object in Photoshop may come in handy.

Fashion and editorial photography

An example of a fashion editorial

What often sets fashion photography and editorial photography apart from other genres of people photography is the color coordination between wardrobe, make-up and backdrops. In the photo above, the model’s lipstick matches her outfit as well as the background color.

Fashion editorial with HSL

If you focus on the reds, oranges, and yellows of skin tones, you’ll be able to adjust the HSL sliders to instantly change the entire color palette. Remember this when you have people in your photos.

Sports and outdoor photography

Original photo of a surfer

Sports and outdoor photography in general can literally contain all the colors of the sun. We used HSL sliders to create contrast and drama and make the surfer stand out in the photo.

Surfer with HSL arrangements

We have adjusted all available colors, but only slightly. Then we increased the saturation of the blues and aquas and decreased their luminance values ​​as well. We also opened up the surfer’s skin tones to help them stand out.

You can also create custom thumbnails in Photoshop to draw attention to your subject.

Incorporate HSL sliders into your workflow for dynamic photos

HSL sliders, found in many photo editors, are an effective tool for creating dynamic photos. Many of your photos can be enhanced or completely changed simply by using the Hue, Saturation and Luminance sliders. Try them out!

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