Original Image

One of the great things about the adjustment tools is that you can add color to the affect. Heck it could be the only setting you applied to that tool. I rely heavily on Photoshop’s color picker/eyedropper to help me choose colors since I have been known to have some color issues. 😀 But if you use a track pad or tablet device such as a Wacom Intous in Lightroom and you click on the color swatch to choose a color… as soon as you move your mouse out of the color palette, and try to sample a color in the image… the cursor changes to a regular one and you can’t do anything.


Picking a color from the color palette is easy, moving the eyedropper out of the palette… not so much.

The secret is to make sure that you keep pressing the mouse or stylus as you drag from the color palette and the eye dropper will follow out of the palette and let you sample any color on the screen.


Holding down the cursor and dragging out of the palette will allow the eyedropper to sample on the image

Now you can grab a section of green from the grass and use the Gradient tool to add some color to the upper corner of the image.


Pick a color and use the Gradient tool to add more color

This works great to give kind of a colorful haze to your images or add to a lens flare. (Editor’s note… You may or may not care for the color I have chosen for this image… that is ok, the end result is to show you the effect, not create the greatest image in the world… you now have the power to choose and use any color you want for your images… so have fun!)


Final image with color added




  1. Nancy 1 April, 2015 at 20:04 Reply

    It did NOT work for me….I’m sure it is something I am doing wrong, but, for instance, when I dragged the color clicker without letting it go to a really green green, and clicked, it showed up as bright yellow? Anyone have an idea what I may be doing wrong?

    • lyle 4 April, 2015 at 11:50 Reply

      I’m on a pc with a mouse. I hold down the left mouse button while in the color panel and keep holding it down, then slide the dropper to the photo and when I see a color I want to use, I let go of that button, and it captures the color successfully. There is no additional click (?) Also, see my response to Dumbrowski elsewhere in this post – you can’t get the deeper colors or black reliably with how they’ve implemented this color picker model – you’ll see the H and S values of the color, but not the lowered L value that makes it dark…

  2. Doug 31 March, 2015 at 15:19 Reply

    This is a great tool to use in Lightroom. I’ve used it in wedding photos where you’re doing a b/w shot of the bride, but color in the bouquet or some other object such as the groom’s colorful tie. If you call up both shots sided by side in Lightroom, you can easily move the eyedropper back and forth between the original photo and the bw version to color in those areas you want to add color to.

  3. Dennis Zito 27 March, 2015 at 08:50 Reply

    Hey Pete,

    Great tip! I learned this tip first from Matt K. and now I use it all the time in processing Autumn Photos. It works Great for that, but I’ve never thought about using it in a Gradient or Adj Brush. Thanks!


  4. Tom 26 March, 2015 at 12:14 Reply

    It looks like some other PP has been done to this image. Could we get the details on the camera specifics (type and lens) and also other processing done. I can see a blurry vignette and some sharpening – but what else? Great photo BTW.

    • Pete Collins 3 April, 2015 at 11:13 Reply

      Tom lots of extras were done beforehand in Photoshop as far as the background… lot of objects and distractions… then I love to add a little blur in the blur gallery. Usually a bit of vertical tilt shift if I remember right. Thanks

  5. lyle 25 March, 2015 at 11:36 Reply

    Nice tip !

    (People wanting to get this look more in-camera (sorta) should look up Ryan Brenizer’s site with his tutorial how to shoot a panorama to get this ultra low depth of field look.)

  6. Jim Royal 25 March, 2015 at 10:06 Reply

    A great tip, something I do frequently. However…

    Has anyone noticed that Lightroom does not sample colours accurately? The resulting colour is close to the sampled colour, but is never identical. The hue is always off.

    For example, if I have a subject with a slightly uneven skin tone, I sometimes will use the Brush tool to desaturate and then colour the blotchy area with the skin colour I want. When used carefully, the result is like applying a layer of foundation makeup to the subject in post.

    However, when I sample the skin tone I want, Lightroom never gets it right. The sampled colour is always a bit bluer than the original colour picked from the photo, and I always have to adjust. Does anyone know why?

  7. Marty Cohen 25 March, 2015 at 08:26 Reply

    Thanks Pete, great tip. I’ve never really used the color picker in this way in Lightroom. So trying it was really fun. But, then I was stuck and couldn’t get the color picker back to “no color”— that is, until I tried double-clicking on the word “color” in the adjustment panel to the left of the color picker. So I post this mini-tip in case anyone else gets stuck at that point.

  8. Jim Lucier 25 March, 2015 at 06:03 Reply

    Thanks for the reminder of the color picker tool.
    I had tried it in the past with mixed results.
    I will now revisit it.

  9. Jim Lucier 25 March, 2015 at 06:02 Reply

    Thanks for the reminder of the color picker tool.
    I had tried it in the past with mixed results.
    Will now revisit it with a new perspective.

  10. Tom Dubowski 25 March, 2015 at 02:17 Reply

    Oh my God I was just doing this today. However I had a hard time finding black in the color palette. I wanted to make it back in black images and struggled.

    • lyle 25 March, 2015 at 11:07 Reply

      It’s not there in that tool/module’s color panel. (if were available the picker would be on the bottom edge). They only allow modifying the H and S values of color, not the luminance. Without being able to set the luminance to 0, you can’t create black via this HSL color model in this tool. You’ll notice the display of numbers across the bottom of the color picker panel – H on the left and S on the right, no L (or L No !). Go look at that same color picker swatch in the Print module and you’ll see they allow modifying L (and also via RGB values), so you can do black there – and you can pick it from the photo for your backgrounds.

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