How to boost colors without affecting the contrast/ brightness

Color is a key factor to the quality of the digital photo. Getting proper colors in your photography is not always easy. After you shoot a landscape, architecture or portrait, you might find the colors look a little dull or flat in comparison to what your eyes see. You wish to improve colors without affecting the lightness and contrast. This is when Lab adjustment comes in handy. Lab is a three dimensional color space that approximates human vision rather than describes how colors should appear on a screen. The main benefit of Lab adjustment is that it separates the lightness values from the color values. Therefore, you can impact colors without changing the brightness or contrast of the photo. Though the internet is flooded with photo editing tools with the function of Lab adjustment, many of them are very difficult to use and not friendly to photo editing beginners. If you are looking for a beginner-friendly photo editor to handle the task, please continue reading this article. In this article, I will introduce you to an easy-to-use photo effect app to help you get the job done.

Photo HDR 

Use the Lab adjustment of Photo HDR to adjust colors

As the name implies, Photo HDR is a photo processing app that is designed to make amazing HDR photos. What's more, it offers a wide range of parameters and decorative objects to adjust the photo effect.

After launching the program, you will be greeted by a sleek and clean window. Load differently exposed photos into the program and they will be combined into a single HDR photo. Click on "Next" and you will be taken to a new window. Here you can adjust the attributes of the combined HDR photo. The window consists of three panels. A rich collection of predefined effects you can apply with ease are located in the left-side panel. You can see small preview thumbnails of these effects. The middle panel takes up most of the window. It is a preview area where you can see the result of applying any change to the photo in real-time. A series of parameters are located in the right-side panel. You can modify the exposure level by changing the contrast, saturation, and brightness. Moreover, you can adjust the local contrast, dynamic range compression, and tone mapping. Besides, you can use Lab adjustment to change colors. In addition, you are allowed to sharpen the photo and remove the noise from the photo. Other parameters include vignette filter, graduated filter, channel mixer, vibrance, and soft light.

On the whole, Photo HDR is not only a simple HDR photo creator but also a powerful photo effects editor. With a variety of built-in tuners and preset effects, it allows you to apply basic adjustments as well as cool special effects to your photos in an instant. Photo HDR is a great app to have around if you need to enhance the photo quality to make your photos look amazing. The simple layout and intuitive settings makes sure that it can be easily mastered by all types of users.

How to use the Lab adjustment of Photo HDR to adjust colors

Step 1.

  • Drop your photo into the box "Drag and Drop Your Photo here". You can also import the photo by clicking on the "Add" button. To remove the imported photo, click on the "Remove" button next to the "Add button".

Step 2.

  • Click on "Next". Go to the right-side panel and scroll down to the "Lab Adjustment" section". Click on the "Lab Adjustment" button to activate the function of adjusting the parameters. The parameters in this section are lightness, contrast, chromaticity, and red and skin tones.


This parameter is used to adjust the brightness of the photo without affecting the colors. Increasing the value will increase the brightness and make the photo brighter. Decreasing the value will reduce the brightness and make the photo darker.


This parameter is used to adjust the contrast of the photo without affecting the colors. Increasing the value will increase the contrast. Decreasing the value will decrease the contrast.


This parameter is used to increase or decrease the chromaticity of the photo without affecting brightness and contrast. If you want to remove all colors and make the photo black and white, set the value to -100.

Red and skin Tones

This parameter is used to prevent the effect of chromaticity from being applied to skin colors. Use this parameter to ensure that the skin will not appear oversaturated as you increase the chromaticity. The higher the value is, the higher the strength is.

Apart from these parameters, there are two options in this section. "Avoid color shift" is to fit the colors of the photo into the complete range of the working color space and retain the purity of the colors. "Restrict LC to red and skin tones" is to restrict the effect of LC (lightness based on chromaticity) curve. In simple terms, it ensures that you can lighten the model's skin without affecting the clothing and background.

  • Drag the sliders to adjust the parameters to fit your needs and select the option as you need.

The "Lab Adjustment" section of Photo HDR

Step 3.

  • Press the "Save as" button to export the photo to a desired location.

It is as easy as ABC to adjust colors with the Lab adjustment of Photo HDR, right? Perhaps you don't know Photoshop also comes with Lab adjustment. Let's see how to boost the colors of your photo using Lab color mode in Photoshop.

How to use Lab color mode in Photoshop to adjust colors

  • Add your photo into the program.
  • Click on "Image" on the top menu bar. Then, go to "Mode and select "Lab Color".

Select "Lab Color"

  • In the channels tab, you will see Lab channels instead of RGB channels. Lab channels include lightness channel, a channel and b channel. Lightness channel defines the lightness without regard to the colors. A channel and b channel defines colors without regard to lightness. A channel is to measure the balance between green and magenta. B channel is to measure the balance between blue and yellow.
  • Click on "Layer". Then, go to "New Adjustment layer" and select "Curves". A dialog box pops up. Click on "OK".

Select "Curves"

  • Now, you can use the "Curves" adjustment layer to adjust each channel. Choose the channel in the drop-down menu. Slightly move the arrow indicators to see what effect will be brought to your photo. Click on the line to set the anchor point. Click on and hold the anchor point. Then, drag the line to see what the changes will be applied to your photo.

Adjust the lightness

Adjust the balance between green and magenta

Adjust the balance between blue and yellow


The power of Lab adjustment is that it keeps the lightness separate from colors. Thus, you can adjust one without affecting the other. This article introduces two methods to enhance colors with Lab adjustment. One is taking advantage of Photo HDR. The other one is utilizing Photoshop. Tell me which one you prefer by leaving your comment below.

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