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TOPIC: To saturate or not to saturate, that is the question

To saturate or not to saturate, that is the question 1 month 4 days ago #1946

  • Ian Wilson
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Thanks David for your thoughtful contribution. I think your explanation of how historical factors have influenced current tastes in landscape photography is compelling.

I have to admit to using too much saturation in earlier days and too much sharpening for that matter. Regarding saturation, I had something of an epiphany a few years ago when I bought an X-Rite Color Checker with a plan to investigate how accurately various RAW converters rendered colours. Before I got that far I discovered that there was an unexpected range of results depending upon the Picture Style. I had read the camera manuals and was vaguely aware that there were differences, for example, Canon Picture Style standard has saturation, brightness and sharpness boosted in the RAW conversion process. Up until that time, I always used this Picture Style and usually added some saturation and more sharpening! The Color Checker enabled me to discover that Canon Picture Style neutral was close to natural colour (assuming good WB) and this is how I now process my pictures. I still shoot with the camera set to Picture Style standard, so that I can conveniently review the image on the camera LCD, but when I take the image into DPP4 I change the Picture Style to neutral early in my processing workflow.

You mention the case of your Eastern Rosella image appearing to be 'quite over-saturated in the RAW straight out of the camera'. I wonder if this is due to the Picture Style and if you changed it to Picture Style neutral would it still appear over-saturated.

Regards, Ian
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To saturate or not to saturate, that is the question 1 month 3 days ago #1947

  • David Seymour
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Hi Ian,

Thanks for reminding me about Canon Picture Style. Like you I usually have the camera set to Standard in the field, but perhaps the more colourful birds may need a switch to Neutral in DPP. I had another look at my Eastern Rosella, and you certainly can see a difference between the two settings, but I would say mostly in contrast, colour contrast, and sharpening. If there is a difference in saturation it does not seem so obvious, although I do note that none of the colour channels are clipped at the top end even in jpeg conversions (and a check with the Colour Picker seems to back this up). As far as I know I can't paste example images into this forum post, but perhaps I'll send you an email for a look.

Cheers, David

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To saturate or not to saturate, that is the question 1 month 3 days ago #1948

  • David Newell
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An interesting discussion. When I first started bird photography 11 years ago I pondered for ages on the "accurate" conversion of raw files to jpeg. In 2010 I went to a photography course in Broome where Lightroom was the preferred raw image processor by most participants for several reasons. Months of deliberation followed where I compared jpegs produced from raw files using both the Canon DPP software versus Lightroom, I trying to determine which software produced a true replication of the colours. I bought the Colour Checker Passport and photographed this whenever I photographed a bird so that I could use the neutral to set the white balance setting. Even using this, the jpeg colours produced from DPP and Lightroom were slightly different. Eventually I took the plunge and decided to use Lightroom because of additional ease in cataloguing and processing images. Eventually decided that "accurate colour" is to a degree a mater of perception. I have not used the Colour Checker Passport for a few years now - using my eye to do white balance and saturation adjustments that are pleasing to me. People with a keen eye for colour will pick faults with the end result, but so be it. In the end it is what you are pleased with, which also depends upon your target audience and the response you receive from them.

Following on from Ian's article on the the correct blue for sky, I printed two images - one with the blue saturation reduced so that the blue was more typical of what we would see, the second as per the camera exposure and default processing parameters I use for Lightroom. Every person I showed the two prints to, preferred the latter with the saturated blue sky! However where the sky is obviously too deep a blue I do now reduce the saturation provided it does not significantly impact on other elements of the photograph.

My rambling thoughts on the discussion.....
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To saturate or not to saturate, that is the question 1 month 3 days ago #1949

  • Rob Parker
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Hi David,
Just letting you know that you can include images in Forum posts - with one exception: if you use the Quick Reply button to reply to a previous post, you will not have access to the full editing toolbar, which you need to insert an image.
Rob
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To saturate or not to saturate, that is the question 1 month 3 days ago #1950

  • Ian Wilson
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Canon Picture Styles; Auto, Standard, Portrait, Landscape and Fine Detail are all for producing out of camera JPEGs. Picture Styles neutral and faithful are provided to use as the starting point for RAW adjustment. Of course the other JPEG Picture Styles can be converted to neutral or faithful when the image is imported into DPP. The 1Dx II user manual describes neutral as 'suited for processing the image with a computer [that is, RAW adjustment]. For natural colours and subdued images with modest brightness and colour saturation.' The manuals for other models and the DPP user manual say something similar.

For what it's worth, I use neutral Picture Style with saturation = 0 in DPP for most images. Only rarely do I use the global saturation adjustment available in DPP. However, once I have a 16-bit TIFF version of the image in Photoshop, I quite often apply a little local saturation adjustment, either more or less saturation. I usually apply more saturation to critical parts of the bird when the image was recorded with a high ISO. High ISO images have less colour dynamic range and can look a bit subdued, even washed out. The amount of saturation I apply is usually less than 10 points in Photoshop, this is barely noticeable. I usually apply the saturation in one colour channel only otherwise I use the the RGB option if I want to boost the overall saturation. I mentioned the possibility of applying less saturation and this is something I find useful if there is a brightly coloured distraction in the background. Again, this is a local adjustment confined to the offending object. I sometimes use less saturation in one colour channel when there is a colour cast on part of the bird due to a reflection of light from the environment, for example, the top side of a bird in flight might have a blue cast due to sky reflection or the under side of a seabird in flight may have a blue-green cast due to light reflected up off the water.
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To saturate or not to saturate, that is the question 1 month 3 days ago #1951

  • Bruce Terrill
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Hi Guys,
I use the Nikon system and the Nikon cameras offer the same, but slightly different names, in camera, I use the 'Standard' selection. Landscape is crazy saturation, but no colors spiked out.
It is interesting to note that if you have the Lightroom 'Classic' software that your cameras selections are available under the 'Quick Develop' for your JPegs as well as a lot of other different presets.
In earlier versions of Lightroom you could choose between Adobe's selection of colors that were supposed to mimic those of the camera manufacturer "faithfully", but opinions certainly differed and these selections are no longer in the Lightroom 'Classic' series.
Bruce
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