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In Photoshop Lightroom 3 Essential Training, author Chris Orwig provides a comprehensive look at Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3, the popular photo-asset management, enhancement, and publishing program. The course covers indispensable techniques such as importing, processing, and organizing images in the Library, correcting and adjusting images in the Develop module, and creating slideshows, web galleries, and print picture packages. In addition to exploring all of Lightroom 3's capabilities, this course is rich with creative tips and expert advice on photographic workflow. Exercise files accompany the course.
In order to dig into the topic of clarity, we are going to be working with this file here. You can find it in the 03_Demo_Files folder. It's titled clarity_demo_file. Well, I will go ahead and press the D key to navigate to the Develop module. What you want to do is you want open up your Basic panel so that we can focus in on Clarity. It's a subtle adjustment yet nonetheless, pretty significant. Here I have created a couple of different gradients and then I posterized these gradients inside of Photoshop. Just for the record, if you want to teach yourself Photoshop or Lightroom, create a gradient, make some changes to it, and you can kind of reverse engineer how these different controls work.
That's exactly what we will be doing here. What I want to do is I want to zoom in on one of these shapes. I am going to zoom in on this shape up here where we have these different gradients across this circle or sphere shape. Well, focus in on the middle here. If we focus in on the middle, let's zoom in perhaps even closer, one of the things that we are going to see is as we increase Clarity, if this were physical object it would be almost as if there are more ridges across it. It would be a little bit more bumpy. As we decreased Clarity, we are going to see that now that's much more soft.
We are also noticing that it is really focusing in on this midtone range. Well, what about this outer edge? Well, that's happening because again that's a midtone. There is a drop shadow back there and it's trying to work on that, either to soften it out or to add a little bit more contrast. Well, how does that compare to Contrast? Well, Contrast is a little bit more heavy-handed. We decrease Contrast. In this case, we have more tonal range. You can see there are more tones in the image. We increase it, there we have less tonal range. More blacks, more whites, less in the middle.
So Contrast like I said is pretty heavy-handed in regards to how it works. Clarity on the other hand, as I swing it one way or back another, it isn't so heavy-handed in regards to tonal range. Yet it does focus in on texture or what's called midtone contrast or what some people call snap. Now some non-photographers won't notice a difference, yet photographers really will, because in photography dimension is essential. That's why photographers are so interested in light and different types of light and quality of light, because the light adds a certain dimensionality to our images.
So what Clarity can do for us, it can just add a little bit of snap. So I am going to increase that about 30 points or so. Press my Backslash key. Here is my before and then after. Again, just an interesting little midtone contrast. Let's take a look at one more shape just to compare. Again, here's my before and then after. You can see that dimension it's adding to this particular image. Down here on one of these grayscales we can see something pretty similar. Here's our before and then after. Again, just a little bit of dimension, as compared to Contrast, more tonal range.
So one of the things you want to keep in mind with Clarity is it's a pretty subtle tool. Typically, what you are going to want to do is to add somewhere about between I would say 30 points or less. Now there are times when you may want to soften an image just for special effect and you go into negative Clarity. You can also do that, but in most situations you are not going to want to add too much Clarity. Again, somewhere right around 10 or 20 or maybe 30 points. Of course, these rules aren't going to apply to all images, but the whole point here is you don't overdo it with Clarity. Otherwise your photographs will look unnatural.
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