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This chapter is from the book

Making Your Colors More Vibrant

Photos that have rich, vibrant colors definitely have their appeal (that’s why professional landscape photographers got so hooked on Velvia film and its trademark saturated color), and although Lightroom has a Saturation slider for increasing your photo’s color saturation, the problem is it increases all the colors in your photo equally—while the dull colors do get more saturated, the colors that are already saturated get even more so, and well...things get pretty horsey, pretty fast. That’s why Lightroom’s Vibrance control may become your Velvia.

Step One:

In the Presence section (at the bottom of the Basic panel) are two controls that affect the color saturation. I avoid the Saturation slider for the reasons mentioned above—everything gets saturated at the same intensity (it’s a very coarse adjustment). If you click-and-drag the Saturation slider to the right, your photo does get more colorful, but in a clownish, unrealistic kind of way (as seen here—though some of the oversaturation will have been lost in the book’s CMYK color conversion for printing). Once you’ve tried using Saturation, go ahead and return the Saturation amount back to 0.

Step Two:

Now try the Vibrance slider—it affects dull colors the most, and it affects already saturated colors the least, and lastly, it does try to avoid affecting fleshtones as much as possible. This gives a much more realistic-looking color saturation across the board, without trashing your skin tones, which makes this a much more usable tool. Here’s the same photo using the Vibrance slider instead, and the mountains don’t look orange (I pressed Shift-Y to get this split-screen before/after). So, unless I’m desaturating an overly colorful photo, I pretty much avoid the Saturation slider altogether.

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