Aug 252011
 

As I wrote in my recent post on sharpening in Lightroom , occasionally when I go to a photography show at a gallery, my first reaction isn’t “What great/horrible photographs!”, but rather “Wow, too much sharpening!”    Sharpening has always been a tool that is easy to go to far with.

Unfortunately, with all the new powerful tools available to us, there are now even more ways to get a “Wow, you need to back off on that  Lightroom slider!”  reaction during your photography exhibition.   The clarity slider in the Basics panel is the next-most commonly over-used tool, in my experience.

As I wrote about in my blog post on  clarity in Lightroom, clarity makes your subject look more three dimensional, by adding contrast to edges (in a much broader way than sharpening).  The bright side of edges gets brighter, the dark side, darker.  Too much clarity can add ugly and obvious shadows and halos around edges.

Here’s an example, before and after the application of +100 clarity: Continue reading »

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Nov 212008
 

Sometimes you want to make an adjustment to your image almost everywhere. You could use the adjustment brush and paint almost everywhere, but that could be slow. Instead, make the adjustment everywhere, with a global change in the Basic panel, and then use the adjustment brush to change back the area you didn’t want to affect. This works in both Camera Raw and Lightroom. Here’s an example. I want to give this portrait image that glow that is popular these days, but I don’t want it to affect the eyes or the mouth.

Original

Original

I will give the image the glow by reducing clarity to -60 in the Basic panel. I also boosted contrast and vibrance.

Clarity at -100 Plus Boost Contrast and Vibrance

Clarity at -60 Plus Boost Contrast and Vibrance

With the adjustment brush set to +60 on clarity (the opposite of the global change I made), I would then paint over the eyes and mouth to reverse the negative clarity change. That is the idea — but to make the change obvious to you in this small image environment, I actually painted with +100 clarity, to accentuate the eyes even more:

Paint +100 Clarity over the Eyes and Mouth

Paint +100 Clarity over the Eyes and Mouth

Note that with this technique, Lightroom (or Camera Raw) isn’t blurring the eyes and mouth and then sharpening what it has blurred — that would not in fact work. It is only applying one change to these areas — the cumulative effect of the negative and positive clarity.

Another example of applying a change everywhere and then painting back with the opposite effect where you didn’t want it is an image that needs to be brighter almost everywhere — brighten it globally, then paint back the areas that you didn’t want brighter with negative brightness. Depending on what type of adjustment you are making, you may find that the amount that you need to paint back is not exactly the opposite of your global change … after you paint with the adjustment brush, adjust the slider until it looks good visually.

Finally, note that this will not work when you want part of your image in color and part in black and white — you can’t desaturate the image (saturation of -100) and then paint color back in with +100 saturation. In this case instead start with the color image, and with the adjustment brush set to -100 saturation, paint the areas that you want to be in black and white.

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Oct 302008
 

I showed you in my first clarity post how to use negative clarity in Lightroom or Camera Raw to soften skin. For a creative look, try heavy negative clarity on the whole image:

Before

Before

Minus 100 Clarity

Minus 100 Clarity (click on the Image to see larger)

Continue reading »

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Oct 272008
 

The clarity slider was introduced in Lightroom 1.1, and is also now in Camera Raw. A positive clarity value punches up an image, makes it look a little more three dimensional, by enhancing contrast along edges. The changes are concentrated in the midtones, and do little to highlights and shadows. Here is an example, a portion of an image with Clarity set to 0, and then set to 60.

Before Clarity Adjustment

Before Clarity Adjustment

Clarity of +60

Clarity of +60

Continue reading »

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