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Transcript for Camera Raw and the HSL Color Model

Narration by Ron Bigelow

Photoshop CS4 Used in this Tutorial

Hello, I am Ron Bigelow, and I would like to welcome you to my Camera Raw with the HSL Color Model video. Typically, when people think of color models, they tend to think of either the RGB or CMYk models. These are certainly the most well know. However, they are not the only ones. There are other color models available. Today, we are going to look at one of these other color models. Specifically, we are going to take a look at the HSL color model and how we can use it in Camera Raw to spice up our images.

Let’s start off by opening a beach scene that I have on my computer by pressing Control+o on a PC or Command+o on a Mac and selecting the Beach image. I shot this image while I was strolling along on the beach one day. I remember a beautiful, saturated scene with a great looking sky. The way the image looks now, with the default Camera Raw settings, it simply does not look like what I saw. For starters, we need to improve the contrast in the image. So, let’s start in a fairly typical fashion by setting the shadow and highlight points and adding some contrast.

We can do this by choosing the Tone Curve tab and choosing Point. Let’s first remove some of these points on the curve. We will set the shadow values first. We set the shadow values by moving the left end of the curve inward to the point where the histogram just starts to ramp up. Then, we set the highlight values by moving the right end of the curve inward to the point where the histogram just starts to ramp up on this side. Our next step is to increase the contrast by creating an S shaped curve.

Here is where we run into a problem. I really want to create a dramatic sky. We can do this by pulling way down on the curve. The Sky looks very dramatic now. However, this caused my darker tones to block up and lose detail. See how dark the cliffs are; there is very little detail. So, using a strong curve has caused a loss of shadow detail. I could try to remedy this by adding another point on the curve to lighten the dark tones a bit. That helps some. However, I am still not completely happy with the result. Instead, since I do not want to lose too much detail in the darker tones, I will use a milder curve. Let’s try a curve like this. This curve works well everywhere except the sky where I prefer to have more contrast.

So, is there any solution that will let us get the dramatic sky that we want and keep the detail in the shadows? As a matter of fact there is, and it involves the HSL color model. All we have to do is click on the HSL/Grayscale tab. Now, the HSL model is very intuitive. The HSL color model allows us to separately adjust the hue, saturation, and luminance of an image. As can be seen, the HSL/Grayscale tab has a separate menu for each of these. The best way to get a handle on the HSL/Grayscale tab is to use it to edit our image.

For this image, let’s start with the Luminance adjustment. As you can see, we can separately adjust the luminance of several different colors. I’ll bet that you can guess where I am headed with this. If you guessed blue you would be correct. As I mentioned earlier, I am not happy with the sky. It is simply not dramatic enough. Darkening the blue in the sky should make a big difference. Let’s give it a try by moving the blue slider to the left. As you can see, that significantly darkened the blue in the sky and, to a smaller extent, on the beach. On the other hand, the rest of the colors were not affected. This is exactly what we wanted.

Next, let’s move to the Hue tab. Here, we can adjust the hue, in other words, the color. Now, there is really only one color that we need to adjust here. The water has some aqua color, but the color really doesn’t stand out. This results in the ocean looking rather drab. By sliding the aqua slider to the left, we can shift the aqua so that it has a bit more green in it.

Last, let’s move to the saturation tab. Here we can adjust the saturation of any of the colors. I think that we should increase the saturation of the blues and aquas a bit. This will enhance the sky and the ocean.

That pretty much finishes up our work with the HSL/Grayscale adjustment tab. Let’s take a look at our improvements. Here is what the image looks like without the HSL work. Here is the image after our HSL adjustments. Clearly, the HSL adjustments have significantly improved the image, and the adjustments took very little time.

That brings us to the end of this tutorial. However, before I sign off, I would like to take this opportunity to let you know that you can download a copy of the transcript for this video, view several other photography videos, and access over 100 photography articles on my website.