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Color can be a critical element to a photographic image, and that doesn't necessarily mean that the subject is especially colorful. When you want to bring out the colors in an image I think the Vibrance adjustment is probably one of the best adjustments out there. It's easily one of my favorite adjustments in Photoshop. You can see with this image the colors are not exactly really key. You wouldn't call this a colorful image. There's some greens in the water, and there's some browns and yellows in this juvenile bald eagle. But by and large color is not really a dramatic element and yet color can really help the image come to life. Let's take a look at the Vibrance adjustment and get a better sense of how it works.
At the bottom of the Layers panel I'll click on the create new Adjustment layer button. And then I'll choose Vibrance from the Pop-up menu that appears. That will add a Vibrance adjustment layer to the Layers panel, and it will also present the Vibrance and saturation sliders on the Properties panel. You'll notice that there are only two sliders. This is a very, very simple adjustment, and yet it really is a wonderful adjustment. I think let's take a look at these two sliders. The beauty of the Vibrance adjustment is that it doesn't affect all colors evenly.
Vibrance will help protect skin tones in an image so that you don't get an artificial appearance in skin tones. But it also adjusts colors differently based on their existing saturation. When we increase Vibrance, what's happening is that the colors that are not too saturated will be increased in saturation. More than the colors that were already saturated. So as I increase the Vibrance slider here for example you'll see that the colors in the green water, the browns on the bird, those are getting a bit of a boost. And yet the saturated yellows in the bird are not getting as much of a boost.
If they were getting just as much of a boost, then those colors would start to look a little bit artificial. So that's really a big part of the magic of Vibrance. If we reduce the Vibrance value, then the colors that were saturated to begin with will be reduced more dramatically than the colors that were not very saturated. So in many ways you can sort of think of Vibrance as evening out the saturation levels in an image. Whether you're increasing or decreasing It's really trying to get a better balance between those Vibrance levels, those Saturation levels in the image.
So in most cases of course you're likely to increase Vibrance. And one of the great things is you don't have to worry to much about getting heavy handed. I can increase Vibrance rather significantly and not worry to much about an artificial look in the bright colors in my photo. Obviously, that doesn't mean I don't want to always increase vibrant significantly. I'll still exercise a little bit of self control there. The Saturation slider is similar in that it allows you to increase or decrease the overall intensity of the colors. This Saturation adjustment, by the way, is not exactly the same as the Saturation slider you'll find in the Hue Saturation adjustment.
This Saturation slider does affect all those colors evenly. But it doesn't give you that artificial appearance the way the Hue Saturation adjustment can. You'll see here, obviously, this is a too strong an adjustment, but still, not as dramatic as you might get with the Saturation slider, in Hue Saturation. So generally speaking, the approach that I recommend is to adjust vibrance. In most cases your probably increasing Vibrance, but in some case you might need to reduce it. And then if you feel that you need to adjust the overall levels in the image, that's where I would bring in saturations.
So, I would start off by adjusting Vibrance. That'll help bring up the saturation in the colors that need it the most, and then fine tune as need with saturation if you need an overall adjustment to the colors within the photo. So, a very very simple and yet incredibly effective, I'll go ahead and turn off the Vibrance Adjustment layer visibility on the Layers panel. So that we can see the image before we applied Vibrance, and then I'll turn that adjustment back on. And you can see a relatively subtle adjustment, and yet one that I think really helps to improve the impact of this photo.
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