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saturated colors vs soft colors


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#1 Jim Nelson

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 08:37 PM

Hi,

what exactly does saturated colors mean?

I see photos but I can't really tell whether they have saturated colors or whether they have soft colors.

For example, do the shots below have saturated colors or soft colors?


Thanks for your help :)

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  • mbn5.jpg
  • mbn3.jpg

Edited by Jim Nelson, 17 August 2010 - 08:38 PM.

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#2 Jim Nelson

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Posted 18 August 2010 - 10:14 AM

btw please don't be harsh, I'm just a beginner :) It's just that I'm having a little difficulty looking at random photos and saying: hey this photo has soft colors and this other photo has saturated colors. Can someone please help me out?

Thanks so much :)
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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 18 August 2010 - 10:25 AM

They have both. The 1st on is a bit more saturated but that is due to contrast where as the 2nd is a bit flatter.
one thing to remember is that a lot of these terms are highly relative and subjective, so don't get too caught up with them, you need to form your own relationship of understanding with colors and images. Takes time to develop this understanding, so don't worry if you don't get it right away.

Perhaps one should ask how you would describe these two photos' colors.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 August 2010 - 05:12 PM

You don't want to parse the English language too much, there has to be some leeway... "washed-out" is merely a colloquial, not a scientific color term. Photographers associate it with a milky flare or haze or overexposure but the term also means when a colored cloth fades from over-washing, like a pair of jeans.

I'm sorry, but surely you know what a saturated color is. It's like painting... the more you mix white or grey paint into a pure color paint, the less saturated it becomes. You've seen those chart charts in Photoshop when you are picking a background or foreground palette, how you can vary the intensity of the color.
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#5 John Sprung

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Posted 18 August 2010 - 05:20 PM

Saturation varies from 100% for light that consists of only one wavelength down to 0% for anything on the gray scale. To understand the science behind it, look around on the web for explanations of CIE 1931 (x,y) space. It's that sort of shark fin diagram with the pure 100% saturated colors of the rainbow around the curve, and neutral white/gray in the middle.





-- J.S.
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#6 Bruce Taylor

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Posted 18 August 2010 - 06:51 PM

"what exactly does saturated colors mean?"


The opposite of saturated color is de-saturated color, which is grey scale. Color saturation is a reference to color intensity. That is not difficult to see.

"Soft colors"-- I don't know what that means-- do you mean contrast between colors? In the second photo the colors are all similar, so there is little contrast between the colors. It is also a low contrast picture which gives it a "soft" look.

You should be able to find good definitions in books or other publications devoted to photography. I have always found old Kodak publications for amateur photographers a great place to find simple concise definitions of ideas like this.
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#7 Jim Nelson

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 11:37 AM

Thank you so much for your help :)

When is the best time of the day to have saturated colors? I heard somewhere that mid day isn't good?
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#8 John Sprung

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 12:50 PM

Saturation varies little if at all throughout the day. It depends mainly on the colors of the objects you're shooting (at least until you mess with it in post). For instance, imagine a very pale model with bright red lipstick. Her lips would be high in saturation, her face low.




-- J.S.
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