• Matthew Brooks

Vibrancy vs Saturation

When first starting to edit pictures in say Adobe Lightroom or some other comparible editing software, I think the first thing that people do is want to make their photo look bright and colourful. So you might be tempted the ramp up the saturation, as people generally know that saturation makes colours more colourful. However when starting to learn about editing you haven't yet learnt the art of subtlety. If you push that saturation slider just that little bit to far your pictures can start to look....garish.

The slider that you actually want to work with to add that pop of colour is the vibrancy slider. The way the two work is the saturation will just take all colours that are not 100% saturated and quite simply raise their saturation levels. Where as the vibrancy slider will actively look at the picture and leave the already highly saturated colours pretty much alone and only bring in some saturation to the more muted tones within a picture. Here, on the left you will see the original picture, then in the middle with saturation ramped up to +70, then on the right vibrancy slider pushed to +70. As you can see in the high saturation the colours all look too much, especially the yellow and oranges. The vibrancy however just looks more like a nice, more colourful version of the original.

Image by Chuttersnap

Talking of particularly the oranges, this is the main colour that make up most skin tones. What happens to skintone using both of these? Well vibrancy also does a really great job at protecting skin tones. So you can see below the picture with high vibrancy, the skintones still look exceptionally natural just less muted. You can also see what would happen to someone with the saturation pushed over the top. All those boosted oranges will make anyone look like they lost a fight with bottle of bad false tan.

Image by Joe Gardener

Of course as I said these examples are at +70 on both sliders which are just for these example purposes and are WAY too high to seriously be using. Like everything balance and subtlety is the key. Every image is different but I suggest to use both in conjunction with one another. If I want an extra pop of colour I use mainly the vibrancy and then add maybe +2 to +5 on saturation. Or to get a different under coloured yet with pop try decreasing vibrancy but upping saturation the slightest. But there is no single formula which will work for every photo. It is just trial and error. When you start to understand colour better then you will get to learn how far is too far. So even though this one was on quite a simple subject, it's something many people can get wrong and now you know how each slider works.

So that's it for now. Thanks for reading and see you again.


Also both these photos are from Unsplash.com, a great and free source of amazing images. In Unsplash.com own words "free, do whatever you want, high resolution images". Perfect for doing things like this blog and used in many editing tutorials on YouTube. But obviously don't actively claim they are your own as that is copyright infringment. To see who took these particular photos hover over the image and the photographers name will come up.

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