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In this installment of the Photoshop Lightroom 4 Essentials series, author and teacher Chris Orwig guides photographers through the process of improving images with creative color, sharpening, and other effects in the Lightroom Develop module. The course covers each of the tools and features in the Develop module, and shows how to perform basic adjustments, such as exposure enhancement; how to improve image quality through noise reduction and clarity adjustments; how to apply creative effects, such as split toning and vignettes; and how to perform advanced tasks, such as correcting for lens distortion. Exercise files are included with the course.
You've heard me say before that one of the ways that you can learn how to use the Lightroom controls is to create a grayscale, and then to modify that grayscale with the control, you can kind of get this interesting insight into how that control works, and that's what we're going to do here. We're going to take a look at how we can really understand what Clarity is. We'll be working with this file; it's tone.jpg. You can find this in the Resource Files folder. Let's go ahead and navigate to the Develop module, and here in the Develop module, what I want to do first is compare and contrast Clarity, and Contrast, because Clarity, well, it's a form of Contrast.
Let's start with the Contrast that we already know. Increase this, blacks become blacker, whites become whiter; decrease this, and the opposite takes place. It's really increasing or decreasing the overall contrast. Okay, we'll so far so good. How does that then compare to Clarity? Well, Clarity is about midtone Contrast. You notice that as I make these changes, either positive or negative, primarily, lets say, in this area, you can see the Contrast is happening here. Let's zoom in; let's go ahead and go to a one to one view for a moment. And here, I have some different gradients, and these I have just created in Photoshop in order to have a nice demo file to see Clarity.
Well, when we increase that, it's like the ridges here, well, they're a little bit more bumpy. Decrease it, well, the differences or the contrast will dissipate, so that the image, it takes on almost this soft glow; a little bit blurry. So we can use clarity to actually add softness to a picture, or to increase that midtone contrast. Now that we've seen Clarity, let's go ahead and compare that to Contrast one more time. Contrast, you notice, it's also changing the background there, it's changing the entirety of the image; a really big wide reach.
On the other hand, our Clarity slider, well it's a little bit more focused on those midtones. Some people will tell you that Clarity adds a little bit of that snap to your picture. What's fascinating to me about Clarity is it does do that, but it also affects color in an interesting way. And what we need to do is to really learn how we can work with Clarity, and also how it can work with color, in particular, those Vibrance, and Saturation sliders that are located right next to Clarity. These are grouped together for a reason.
Well, let's continue our conversation about working with Clarity, and let's take a look at how we can work with an image, and let's do that in the next movie.
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