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Today I want to share my favorite technique for adjusting skin tone in Lightroom when editing portraits.
For years, I used photoshop for editing all my photos. The process of fixing skin tone in Photoshop is complex and time-consuming. First, I had to evaluate the RGB values for each color channel and after I would adjust each color channel separately.
I never liked the Photoshop skin color adjustment workflow.
In Lightroom, the process of adjusting the skin color takes 10 seconds at most. And it is fun.
As the travel photographer, 99% of my portraits are taken outdoors. And because it is not controlled environment, there are a number of factors that affect skin color of my subjects.
The sun is the most obvious factor. Plus, reflections of the environment contribute to the color shifts.
It means that pretty much every portrait I take requires skin tone adjustment.
Here is the outline of my favorite technique.
Lightroom Skin Tone Fix Technique
This portrait was taken in the middle of the day in the desert with a reflective metal structure very close to the subject. As the result, the skin color of the model is shifted toward the red hues.
In Lightroom Develop Module locate HSL (Hue Saturation Luminance) Panel.
In the Hue section, click on rounded icon with two arrows pointing up and down. When you mouse over the icon you will see the text “Adjust Hue by dragging in the photo”.
Next, locate the skin area which is properly lit and click on it.
Without releasing the mouse, start dragging it up or down.
If you drag mouse too far UP the skin color becomes unnatural yellow. At the same time you can see how the values of Red and Orange hues will change.
And if you drag mouse down, the skin color tone will be sifted towards red.
The goal here is to find the right balance between Yellow and Red to achieve the natural skin tone.
By dragging the mouse UP and DOWN I managed to find the sweet spot. The Hue values of Red +14 and Orange +42, give me the right skin tone.
And here is the Before & After transformation. It took me 10 seconds at most.
Extra tip. If you see that skin color of your subject is over saturated you can use exactly the same technique in Saturation section of HSL Panel. By dragging the mouse UP and DOWN you can increase or reduce saturation of the selected colors.