Take a quick test. Walk outside on a bright and sunny day and look at the sky and the trees. Now put on a pair of sunglasses and look again. Notice how much more “vibrant” everything looks? Notice how the sky is a deeper, richer blue and the leaves on the trees are a softer and more earthy green?
This is “vibrance” and it’s your minds perception of colors and textures in the absence of glare. Glare is a harsh, white reflected light that overpowers the colors and textures in a scene and it’s pure death for a landscape photographer. That’s why most landscape images are taken during the early morning or late afternoon hours, when the sun is low in the sky and the harsh reflections are at a minimum. Glare is why we buy sunglasses and why we use polarizing filters on our lenses.
Vibrance is what landscape photographers strive to capture in their images. It’s that very subtle combination of color and tone that makes a landscape image compelling. Unfortunately, most raw file formats seem to lack vibrance and it’s up to the photographer to add this key ingredient back during post capture processing.
Luckily, this is very simple using the Presence controls in Adobe Lightroom 2. Making this even easier is the Punch preset which increases the Clarity and Vibrance but leaves the Saturation unchanged, which is vital to creating an image that is vibrant without being over-saturated.