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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 learn how to work with Vibrance, and Saturation, here I want to work on three different images. You can find these photographs in the People folder. The first one is melissa_08. Let's take this image to the Develop module, and next, let's open up our Basic panel, and then scroll down to the Presence controls. What I want to do with this image is zoom in on it. It's a smaller JPEG, so I am going to zoom in to the 1:1 view, so I have a nice view of the color and details in this photograph.
Well just by way of experimentation, let's increase the Saturation all the way up. Now, when we do that, we have these strange problems. This red, it's a little bit out of control and funky; there is also this discoloration and yellowing in the face. It's not very flattering. So 100 points of Saturation; it's not going to work. Compare that to 100 points of Vibrance. Well, while this is still exaggerated, it's much more manageable. The eyes, they look vibrant and alive.
The background, beautiful red; not over the top. So again, this Vibrance slider, it deals with color a little bit differently, and in this case, what we might want to do with processing this photograph is perhaps increase the Vibrance a little bit. Get some of that color variety, and then maybe just a touch of Saturation, and that can help an image come to life in fascinating ways. In other words, these two sliders, well they play well together. It's kind of like you want to use one, and then another, and kind of use them back and forth; they complement each other.
While one is linear, the other is nonlinear. Let's take a look at the results with this image. Here is our overall before; a little bit lackluster. And now here is after; much more vibrant and intriguing. Okay, well let's continue the experiment. Let's work on another image. This time I will select this file, which is titled chris.dng, and I will zoom out to Fit in View. This is a larger full resolution file, so I am going to take my Navigator view 1:4, which will give me a nice close up of the face.
Once again, what does 100 points of Saturation look like? Well here you can really see it. The face, or the skin tone, it looks something like a carrot orange. It's just is unnatural, unreal, uninteresting. Let's compare that to 100 points of Vibrance. Well again, we have an over the top look. Yet the skin tone, well that looks actually pretty decent. Again, we are exaggerating here, but you can see that 100 points of Vibrance, well it's a little bit better.
So with an image like this, again what we could do is, of course, perhaps bring up some of that Vibrance there, and then we could also control the overall color saturation. If you want to have a nice, really vibrant looking image, you could bring up some of that Saturation. Here it is: our before, a little bit lackluster, and then after. So, is this always the combo that you'll use? Not necessarily. There may be times when you'll want to decrease the Vibrance, and then increase the color Saturation.
What this can do is it can kind of protect certain colors from going over the top. Let me show you what I mean. Well here, I have plus 55 Saturation. Let's remove the Vibrance. When I remove the Vibrance, plus 55 saturation, well the skin, it looks horrible. Well if I decrease the Vibrance, what it's going to do, then, is kind of protect those skin tones, so now I have nice color that I am saturating, that I am boosting up, without overdoing certain colors.
Let's press the Backslash key. Here you can see before, and then after. It's pretty subtle; it's pretty natural, and realistic looking. The advantage of using these controls together, and using them delicately, like we are doing here, is that they can really make an image look good, versus if you overdo it, it just looks over processed, and again, it kind of will detract from the power of the photograph. Let's look at one more image, just to see how we can use this in yet a different lighting scenario.
This time, I am going to click on this photograph here, it's titled elsie.jpg. I'll go to a 1:1 view of this photograph. It's a picture of my oldest daughter holding our youngest the first day she was brought to our home; the second day of her life. I love it. Well if we increase the Saturation, we know what's going to happen; doesn't look good. If we increase the Vibrance, well, we know it's going to hold up. It's going to work on the weaker colors. What you can do is you can use these sliders, as we've seen; a little bit of Vibrance.
Also, you can take out a little bit of Saturation, and sometimes what that can do is you can add color variety here with Vibrance, while not overdoing the colors that are too punchy, and again, this can give you another type of look; a distinct color palette with your photographs. This will be a little bit more subtle, but I will press the Backslash key. Here is before, press it again; there's after. It may be hard to see, but my pinks and my yellows, they just have a little bit more of a snap to them.
So as you can see, these controls, while at first glance, well they are simple, straightforward, no big deal. At second glance, they are actually kind of fascinating, and really fun, and you can use these controls to really bring out some beautiful colors in your photographs.
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