Coherent control protocols provide a direct experimental determination of the relative importance of quantum interference or phase relationships of coupled states along a selected pathway. These effects are most readily observed in the high intensity regime where the field amplitude is sufficient to overcome decoherence effects. The coherent response of retinal photoisomerization in bacteriorhodopsin to the phase of the photoexcitation pulses was examined at fluences of 10(15) - 2.5 × 10(16) photons per square centimeter, comparable to or higher than the saturation excitation level of the S(0) - S(1) retinal electronic transition. At moderate excitation levels of ∼6 × 10(15) photons/cm(2) (<100 GW/cm(2)), chirping the excitation pulses increases the all-trans to 13-cis isomerization yield by up to 16% relative to transform limited pulses. The reported results extend previous weak-field studies [Prokhorenko et al., Science 313, 1257 (2006)] and further illustrate that quantum coherence effects persist along the reaction coordinate in strong fields even for systems as complex as biological molecules. However, for higher excitation levels of ∼200 GW/cm(2), there is a dramatic change in photophysics that leads to multiphoton generated photoproducts unrelated to the target isomerization reaction channel and drastically changes the observed isomerization kinetics that appears, in particular, as a red shift of the transient spectra. These results explain the apparent contradictions of the work by Florean et al. [Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 106, 10896 (2009)] in the high intensity regime. We are able to show that the difference in observations and interpretation is due to artifacts associated with additional multiphoton-induced photoproducts. At the proper monitoring wavelengths, coherent control in the high intensity regime is clearly observable. The present work highlights the importance of conducting coherent control experiments in the low intensity regime to access information on quantum interference effects along specific reaction coordinates.