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In this installment of the Photoshop Lightroom 4 Essentials series, author and teacher Chris Orwig guides photographers through the process of improving images with creative color, sharpening, and other effects in the Lightroom Develop module. The course covers each of the tools and features in the Develop module, and shows how to perform basic adjustments, such as exposure enhancement; how to improve image quality through noise reduction and clarity adjustments; how to apply creative effects, such as split toning and vignettes; and how to perform advanced tasks, such as correcting for lens distortion. Exercise files are included with the course.
In order to really understand how the Vibrance and Saturation controls work in the Develop module, let's work with this demo file here. You can find it in the Resource Files folder; it's titled color.jpg. Select that file, and then go ahead and navigate to the Develop module. Well here in the Develop module, we are going to focus in on the Basic panel, and in particular, on the controls for Presence: Vibrance, and Saturation. Now Vibrance, and Saturation; they work in similar yet different ways.
Let's try to reverse engineer, or deconstruct how these tools, or how these controls actually work. Well Saturation, we are all probably used to. What it does is it either says, okay we have a certain amount of color; let's then remove or let's add color to this particular image. Yet what's exactly happening here. Well, what saturation does is it makes what are called linear adjustments. It says, I want to take this blue, in this case a faded blue, or a bright blue, wherever that blue is, and I want to boost it up, or take it down.
So in this case, we can see that all of the blues become a little bit more blue relative to where their saturation level was, or all of those, in a uniform way, become less blue. So again, it doesn't really pay attention to the color; it just says, I am going to add more, or I am going to take away. Well Vibrance on the other hand, it allows us to make nonlinear adjustments. Vibrance is almost a little bit maybe intelligent. What it does is it says, hey, you know what? These blues, well, they are not quite as blue as the other ones down over here.
I want to help these guys out. So Vibrance focuses in on color in a fascinating way. As I increase this, you will notice that the blues on the right are those blues which are more affected than the blues on the left. Let's look at that before and after. Well here is our before, and then here is our after. On the other hand, if we decrease the Vibrance, well, it's going to decrease the colors which are little bit less blue, and it's going to try to maintain the blue in the colors which were once the most blue.
So this is nonlinear. It's paying attention to color in an interesting way. It works on those weaker colors in a different way than it does the stronger colors. Okay well, why does this matter, besides it being kind of interesting? Well it matters because it can help us process our images in really powerful ways. Let's take a look. Go back to Library module for a moment, and then go to the folder titled other. Inside of this folder, we have a photograph which is titled sayulita_door.
This is a picture of a painting on this little shop door down in Mexico. Let's process this image using those Vibrance, and Saturation controls, and so let's go to the Develop module. Well here in the Develop module, let's just see what these controls do. Decrease Vibrance; well what happens? Well it primarily targets the blues; it doesn't affect the Reds as much. Increase this up; what we are going to see is all of a sudden, we have not just more color, but more color variety, and that's what's really important here.
What Vibrance does is it actually expands the color palette. Rather than just taking red or blue, and making more of that, it gives us almost these different shades of blue; these different shades of red. Take a look: here is our before, and then now here's our after. All right, well let's compare that to Saturation. What Saturation will do is it will boost our colors. In this case, we kind of lose detail on the reds. There is too much red there. It's not really usable. Decrease; we know what's going to happen there.
Well what we can do is we can use these sliders together, say, increase Vibrance, and maybe take down the Saturation a little bit, and a little bit more Vibrance until we come up with a nice color combination. Here is that before, and then now the after. The trick with this, of course, in this image in particular, is that the reds, well those are going to easily get blocked up, or they are going to have too much information in them, because the red channel is the one in digital capture which is most sensitive to light. And you know what? This happens all the time with people's faces as well.
If you increase the Saturation, well their face becomes too ruddy; too red. You see all those kind of strange colors in their face. Yet if you use Vibrance, say, with a people photograph, well it can boost the other colors, but not so much affect the face. In other words, Vibrance helps us bring other colors out, while the main or the big colors, it doesn't affect as much. And here, you can see it just gives us kind of a fun way to process this image. We have a little bit of flexibility with regards to finding the sweet spot; the amount of reds, and blues, and also all of those vibrant tones.
Here it is: our before, and then after. Well now that we have been introduced to this whole topic of how these sliders work, let's apply what we know, and let's do that to a few more images.
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