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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.
This movie is going to be a bit of a journey; a journey into exploring how to understand and work with the Clarity slider. Let's work with this picture here. You can find it in the people folder; it's titled rob.tif. And what I'm going to do to make things simple is I'm going to filter what I'm seeing in this folder, so that I can just focus in on this photograph. In order to do that, I'm going to add a red label by clicking on this icon here. Next, you can press your Backslash key; that's the slash which leans to the left.
That opens up your library filtering options, and click on Attribute to expand that, and then this red color label. So why are we doing all of that? Well, I want to do all of that just to kind of clear away all the clutter, to really focus in on just one image at a time. Let's go to the Develop module. Here in the Develop module, what we're going to do is make a comparison between Clarity, and Contrast. We're also going to see how these adjustments compare to the original file. Therefore, I'm going to create a couple of virtual copies.
On a Mac, you can press Command+ Apostrophe. On Windows, you can press Control+Apostrophe. And go ahead and press that twice, so that we now have three images. On the second image, let's increase the contrast all the way up 100 points. On the third image, or third virtual copy, let's increase the Clarity. Now let's look at the differences. We can look at these simply by clicking through the images; the original, as compared to full contrast. Interesting, right? We lose some detail in the blacks. The yellow, or color saturation on the face and the shirt; well, it's just really over the top.
Compare that to, say, Clarity. What happens there is we have detail in the blacks; it didn't affect those as much. It's really targeting those midtones, and what's interesting about this as well is we have a little bit of loss of color saturation. Take a look. Here is the original file, and then here's the file with 100 points of Clarity. Well, one of the things that you might need to do when you're working with Clarity is bring back a little bit of the color.
One way to do that, of course, is to increase your Vibrance slider, and you can bring that Vibrance slider up, and maybe even a little bit of Saturation here. I'm just going to go ahead and see if I can move these amounts here a little bit to bring back some of that original color. Let's now take a look at this. Here is our original file, and then here's the file with all of this added extra Clarity. Now it's not perfect; it can't be. It can't be a one to one perfect color, because we have a different amount of contrast. You can see how you can start to kind of bring out some of these colors, and you can use these sliders in order to bring in more or less color.
The reason why I'm pointing this out is just to get you to think about how clarity adds this really interesting texture. Let's zoom in. We click on 1:1, and we see all of that texture. Comparing that, say, to the original file, we have nice wonderful texture. Yet, it also shifts color. So sometimes what we'll do is -- let's go ahead and reset these -- we'll do something like this. We'll say, well, let's add some Clarity. Not too much, but maybe 20, 30, 40 points. I should point out, too, that Clarity in the latest version of Lightroom: it's been completely overhauled. It works completely differently.
It doesn't introduce as many artifacts as it did previously. Previously, you would hear people say, like myself, only add a little bit of Clarity; too much, and your image is going to fall apart. Well, not the case with this version of Lightroom; you can push this pretty high, and the image will still look pretty good. All right. Well, let's say that we want a moderate amount; somewhere right around there. What might do next, then, is add a little bit of that Vibrance, and maybe a touch of Saturation, and you can see that as I toggle between these two views, we have pretty accurate color.
Now, again, it's not perfect, it's not one to one, but you can see how we can start to kind of play with these amounts, and come up with some different color combinations, which kind of hearken back to that original color palette. All right. Well, why all of this conversation, and why all of this time focusing in on Clarity, and also comparing it to Contrast, and how it relates to color, and all of these variables? Well, I want to take time to do that, because what I've noticed is this: very often, photographers go through their workflow top to bottom.
They work on exposure, they add some contrast, they use their other sliders in any way that they need to, and they do their workflow, and then at the end, of course, they add a little bit of Clarity. Yet, the trick with that is that what you're doing, you have to keep in mind, that as you add that Clarity, whatever amount, you're also tweaking the color. Therefore, when you get to Clarity, don't stop there, because you know about Vibrance, and Saturation. You've watched those movies; you know how that works. Well, take advantage of that knowledge, and as you seek to add your Clarity, whatever amount, just keep in mind, you may need to go into some of these other controls in order to just customize the way you want that color to appear.
Now, I'm not necessarily saying you always need to do this every time. You know, sometimes what you'll discover is that you'll go through your own workflow, and you'll get to that final Clarity step, and what that will do is it will create kind of a nice look for your image. Maybe it's a little bit gritty, and desaturated, and you like it. Well, in that case, live with it; go for it. I mean, that's a good thing. Yet, there are certain images where this desaturation, this kind of hip, crunchy type of look; it just doesn't work.
Therefore, in those situations, it may be helpful to tap into using these other sliders in order to really finish the image off; in order to give it a color palette, a color look, which is a little bit more appropriate for that photograph that you're working on.
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