Saturation:over-Saturation:Vibrance – a virtual discussion

This is a conversation started by Sugandha Dubey on FB. Saturation versus over-saturation of digital photographs.

images saturation

Sugandha Dubey I see a lot of images everyday. I speak to few photographers too. I have a question that I would like to put up here.
I hope I get some interesting answers to my very basic ” duh sounding” query.
Why do you like to over-saturate your images ?

Udit Kulshrestha Sugandha : Compare an image shot on velvia film and digitally saturated. Velvia will still appear with more saturation…

Ankit Narang Mam as in this digital age there are lots of amateur photographers and they don’t actually know, that to what extent the saturation should be pumped up so that the colors wont bleed out . Plus as majority of these photographers use non calibrated monitors . It looks fine on their screen but actually it is over saturated.

Monica Dawar I guess photographers do it bcoz they believe for the purpose of printing photograph is processed normally but for the purpose of online exhibit over-saturation is required!

Justin Rabindra Good question. I tended to do that (loved the artificially richer colours), though now I’ve started to control myself (I think.)

Saptorshi Majumdar overcompensating for the bleak reality around.

Sugandha Dubey Interesting feedback so far… if this goes well I may carry a post on our blog with credits to each one of u

Sanjay Nanda 1 images shot in raw are usually flat, so saturation needs to be bumped up to normal levels. 2 images shot in jpg are automatically saturated by the camera processor. 3 most amateur photographers usually over boost the saturation for a more impactful image. 4 all new flatscreen monitors are backlit and come callibrated at 9600K, so diaplay images more brightly than normal, making the image look saturated.

Himanshu Sharma I understand where this question comes from. I myself see a lot of oversaturation done on a lot of amateurish images. I myself shoot a lot in Raw format. Raw images are flat, and it depends solely on the editor to turn it into something he/she desires. Saturation is something which attracts the eye ( well to some ), but to an extent. what might look as saturation, might as well be lowered highlights, or darker shadows, or just lowered luminance of the colors. A lot of parameters go into editing these images. Its all in the perspective. Do i, as a photographer want people to see what they already see through naked eyes, or do i want to portray what might be more dreamy, more appealing. HDR photography is another example. Some people love it, a lot dont. It feels so unreal, yet so desirable at times. One perfect example of playing with saturation can be of ashot i clicked few days ago. it was of a sunset/ twilight period. Through naked eyes i could not see magenta/purple colors in the clouds. But saturating those colors itself i was amazed with the results. They infact were present in the raw image, right around the extreme edges of the cloud formation. I might have been random in my thoughts here, but i feel its solely on the perspective. Over saturation in most images is an overkill, but it might bring wonders to an image in certain scenarios.

Udit Kulshrestha Front lit images are contrasty and saturated more than the rest. Principles of light say so.

Himanshu Sharma Another rookie mistake most of us make, is to saturate the entire image, than to saturate the colors independently which need it.

Ravi Dhingra If we are talking of digital art and not photography in its pure form, oversaturation may work.

Md Ahasan oversaturation works…

Akshat Jain Good question Sugandha
A quick tip for fellow photographers: Try to increase the ‘Vibrance’ instead of Saturation in PS or Lightroom.

Sugandha Dubey Thank you Gentlemen. It is a pleasure reading the replies. I am sure there are others too who read it
Can I also request Aditya Arya Dinesh Khanna and Ashish Chawla , Samar S Jodha to give their perspective as well ? Would be nice. Also if we have any body from print experience background in this group may be they would like to shed some light how over saturation impacts printing quality ?

Akshat Jain If one is using a colour managed system, there is almost no difference in what you see on screen and in print.
Another tip: While saving photographs to be uploaded on web, use Save for Web & Devices (Alt + Shift + Ctrl + S) in PS, tick convert to sRGB, embed colour profile, optimized and change the quality and image size as required.

Dinesh Khanna I think most of the points one would make have already been made here. The problem, if one can call it that, lies in the amount, and more importantly, the ease of control available to the photographer to work on the image after its been shot. Saturation and sharpening are the 2 things people tend to overdo while using the sliders.

Sanjay Nanda dont agree with akshat. a CMS does help, but an image displayed on screen does not necessarily have to match the image on print, especially over-saturated colours. it is always the saturated colours that are out of gamut for most output devices. most pros process images in aRGB, the gamut of a high end image printer is even smaller than sRGB and the CMYK gamut is way smaller. also most people cannot view the saturated colours on their browsers accurately, the limitation being the gamut of the monitor, OS, browser and website. so all details in the saturated colours is lost and the saturated areas look flat.

Udit Kulshrestha Akshat : vibrance increase leads to loss of detail in the saturated colours.

Dinesh Khanna I am so glad I dont know a lot of the stuff some of the people are talking about here . . .

Samar S Jodha Dont know what to say here, As Dinesh Khanna said most has been spoken out here. I am still a sucker for my 4×5 film..or the iphone.

Dinesh Khanna Samar even I shoot incessantly with my iPhone. Almost everything I post on fb is with the phone camera and I love the spontaneity and immediacy it allows.
And I find that I use my dslr only for assignments and long term projects like Mothers & Daughters’ and Benaras.
The 4×5, unfortunately, is now just a much loved but distant dream.

Jasminder Oberoi Masters have already spoken about it in detail. As per my limited understanding, first they over saturate may be because they like it that way; second reason could be since they have that liking of colors, they do not know where to draw the line. I being a sucker for colors, never knew where to stop and almost always went overboard myself. The monitor calibration also adds to their woes. Some have shunned Vibrance as a bad option but to the best my understanding Vibrance is a better choice for fashion oriented images and saturation (using selective colors and layers) is a better option for almost all other kinds of images.

Akshat Jain You mentioned that Increasing “Vibrance” is better. Udit Kulshrestha You said it is not. Now we need a tie breaker ?? Anyone ?

Himanshu Sharma Vibrance often affects only colors which might appear milder and most of the time does not affect colors which are already saturated to a point. Saturation on the other hand, increases the color intensity irrespective of what they already are.
i prefer vibrance over saturation any day.

Sanjay Nanda vibrancy is just like saturation, but only a selective saturation booster. it effects only non-saturated colours but has no effect on skin tones. btw vibrance is an apple aperture option, not LR or PS.

Himanshu Sharma It sure is an option in Lightroom. have been using it for an year now.

Sanjay Nanda Oh, sorry. Mixed up with some other adjustment option.

Jasminder Oberoi Saturation bumps all the colors uniformally which means that if a color in an image is already little more saturated than others, it has high chance of looking bad (bleeding might also occur). Where as Vibrance just works on weaker colors leaving the already strong colors alone. It also does not make skin look un natural. IMO its a better option..

Sugandha Dubey IMO = ?@ Jasminder OberoiSanjay NandaVibrance is in PS too ver. 6

Himanshu Sharma * in my opinion

Sugandha Dubey LOL now this one foxed me too  I was wondering what is this new control IMO

Himanshu Sharma haha.. a distant cousin of ISO

Jasminder Oberoi lol.. yes its in photoshop as well..

This brings it to the end of the such an informative and interesting conversation on the page of Delhi Photographers on FB. Thank you Monica and all the gentlemen who engaged. This is shared by to benefit people from advertising, art, students, photographers, professionals … anyone at large who will gain. If you have more perspective on the same please feel free to add here.

We also found a few more interesting links that may be useful and recommend to read.


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