How To Use Point Color In Lightroom Classic

by Andrew S. Gibson
How To Use Point Color In Lightroom Classic

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Adobe announced Lightroom Classic 13.0 last week, with two new major Develop module tools, Point Color and Lens Blur. In today’s article we’ll take an in-depth look at Point Color, along with some practical examples of how to use it. 

The Color Mixer panel

The update replaces the HSL/Color panel with a new Color Mixer panel. It contains all the sliders and tools found in the old HSL/Color panel, plus the new Point Color tool.

The Color Mixer panel has two parts – Mixer and Point Color. 

Color Mixel panel

Click on Mixer to see the sliders from the old HSL/Color panel. Nothing has changed here, you can continue to use the HSL sliders as you always have done.

Set Adjust to HSL to see the Hue, Saturation and Luminance sliders (below left). Or set it to Color to see the Color sliders (below right). 

Color Mixer panel

If you’re not familiar with the tool already then note that in both cases you are adjusting the same 24 sliders. They are just arranged in a different order. Plus, under HSL, you can click on Hue, Saturation or Luminance to simplify the view to show just eight sliders.

Color Mixer panel

The Point Color tool

Click on Point Color and this is what you’ll see at first, if you haven’t used it before on the image you’re developing. These are the new tools, waiting for you to use them.

Point Color in the Color Mixer panel

The Point Color tool is a more advanced version of the Targeted Adjustment Tool found in the old HSL/Color panel (and which is still available in the Mixer part of the Color Mixer panel).

Click on the Eyedropper icon and move the cursor over the photo (1). Lightroom shows you an enlarged, pixel level view of what’s underneath the cursor to help you see the sampled color (2). It also shows you the color under the cursor in two color fields in the Color Mixer panel (3).

Point Color

When you click on the photo, Lightroom samples the colors under the cursor and adds a swatch to the Point Color tool. 

Point Color

It also shows you where the color falls on two color fields below.

Point Color

The color field on the right shows the luminance values of the sampled color. You can grab the circle and move it up to make the color lighter, and down to make it darker. 

Point Color

When you do this, the Luminance Shift slider underneath moves to adjust to the new value. Alternatively, you can move the Luminance Shift slider, which also moves the circle. 

The larger color field is for adjusting Saturation and Hue. Move the circle down to decrease color saturation, or up to increase it. Move it right to shift the hue in one direction, or left to shift it in the other direction.

Point color

Moving the circle also moves the Hue Shift and Saturation Shift sliders underneath. Just like Luminance Shift, you can move the Hue and Saturation Shift sliders and watch the the circle move around.

Either way, the color field directly above the sliders shows both the sampled color (left) and the new color (right) after the adjustments. If you have sharp eyes, you’ll also see it in the color swatch.

Point Color

You can use the Eyedropper to add up to eight swatches.

Point Color

Tip: Hold the Alt (PC) or Option (Mac) key down while moving the circle in either color field for a more precise adjustment.

Extra tip: Double-click the Hue Shift, Sat. Shift or Lum. Shift slider labels to reset the value to zero.

The best way to see how all these sliders work is to use them on your photos. Play and experiment and see what you can do.

For example, I started with this photo:

Travel photo Argentina

Then I adjusted Luminance Shift for each of the three color swatches shown above, making each sampled color lighter, to give this result.

Travel photo Argentina

A simple adjustment that makes a bit difference to the image.

One of the benefits of Point Color is that it uses swatches to remember your sampled colors. That makes it easy to go back to them and readjust the values. This is something you can’t do with the Targeted Adjustment Tool.

Adjusting Point Color Range

The Range slider affects how much the changes you make to the sampled color bleed into nearby colors. 

This is another thing you can’t do with the Targeted Adjustment Tool and a big benefit of Point Color.

Click the white triangle to the right of the Range slider to reveal more three color fields. The arrows and slider boxes in these color fields help you control the range of Hue, Saturation and Luminance values affected by your adjustments.

Point Color

To get a feel for how this works, select a color swatch and check the Visualize Range box at the bottom.

When you do this, Lightroom shows you the parts of the photo affected by any changes you make in color. The rest of the photo is shown in black and white.

In the screenshot below, I picked a blue color swatch and checked Visualize Range. Any changes I make will affect the color parts of the photo, but not the black and white parts.

Point Color

This is the preview for the orange swatch, showing which parts of the photo will be affected by any adjustments I make.

Point Color

You can make a crude adjustment to the colors affected using the Range slider. Set it to zero to restrict it as much as possible, or to 100 to increase it as much as possible. Below, you can see the difference between Range 0 and Range 100 with the orange swatch in my photo.

Point Color

Above: Range = 0

Point Color

Above: Range = 100

Most photographers will be happy with using the Range slider. The color fields below it are for those of you who want to make more precise adjustments to the range of colors affected. They work independently of the Range slider and don’t affect its value.

Again, the best way to see how they work is to play around with them with the Visualize Range box checked and see how they affect the range of affected colors.

Of course, it helps to know what you are adjusting. So here’s a guide, using the Saturation Range scale, which shows the full range of possible color saturation for your sampled color from zero (no color) to 100 (fully saturated).

1. The slider box (white rectangle) shows the range of colors affected by the adjustment. You can click and drag to move the slider box from side to side. Or click and drag the edges to make it larger or smaller.

2. The circle shows where your sample color falls in the Saturation range.

3. The gray triangles show how much feathering there is of the affected color range. The closer the triangles are to the edges of the slider box, the less feathering you get.

4. These two figures show the values of the associated gray triangle and the edge of the slider box, in the range from zero to 100.

Repeating for both Hue Range and Luminance Range adds to the complexity, which is why most photographers will be happy with the Range slider. But these precise controls are there if you need them.

Point Color in the Masking panel

So far, any adjustments you make with the Point Color tool are applied to the colors within the entire photo, limited only by the color range sliders.

What makes Point Color so powerful is that Adobe has added it to the Masks panel. Now you can make a mask and, with Point Color, take complete control over the colors within that mask.

For example, with the photo below I used Select Subject to mask the statue and change some of the colors (using the Point Color tool) without affecting the colors in the background.

Point Color comparison

Final points

The Mixer (the former HSL/Color panel sliders) and Point Color sliders are independent of each other. Changing the values in one makes no difference to the values in the other. They do the same job, in different ways and with different levels of precision.

It makes sense to use the Point Color sliders once you have got used to how they work. They are more precise and give you more control, especially when used with masks.

For many years photographers asked for HSL adjustments with masks. Now Point Color gives you more control than you’re ever likely to need.

But the old HSL/Color sliders are there for those of you who prefer to work that way.

Mastering Lightroom Classic: Book Two – The Develop Module

You can learn more about Point Color and the Mixer with my popular ebook Mastering Lightroom Classic: Book Two – The Develop Module.

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