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In Photoshop CS5 for Photographers: Camera Raw 6, Chris Orwig provides in-depth training on Camera Raw 6, the CS5 component that enables photographers to open and manipulate images in non-destructive and now even more efficient ways. This course covers the benefits of the raw processing, which makes it possible to more precisely control an image's appearance—exposure, shadow and highlight detail, color balance, sharpness, and more—including new workflow procedures and technical concepts and issues. Learn the entire Camera Raw workflow, from opening and resizing, toning and cropping, to sharpening and saving. Exercise files are included with the course.
One of the things that distinguishes an average photographer from a great photographer is the attention, or the noticing of small little details, and that's exactly what Clarity helps us do. What it does is it adds just a little bit of a snap. It adds some midtone contrast to our image. So I want to deconstruct what Clarity actually is so that we can learn how to use this effectively. Well, here you can see that I have this gradient that I've posterized, and I did this in Photoshop, and I did this just to create a demo file, which will help us deconstruct what Clarity is.
Now, Clarity is a tool which allows us to add Contrast, and how Adobe Camera Raw defines Contrast is light pixels next to dark pixels. So if we go ahead and zoom in on the shape for a second, one of the things that we can do is increase Clarity. Now as I increase the Clarity, you're seeing that wherever we have these little ridges, it's as if they become a little bit more bumpy. If we are to brush our finger across that, it would feel like the ridge was a little bit taller. The white side is a little bit more white, and the dark side is a little bit more dark.
Let's look at our before and after. Here he have it before and then after. We'll zoom out a touch too so we can see this as well, again, before and then also after. Well, if we apply a negative Clarity amount what's going to happen there is we're going to see that the image now looks much softer. Let's zoom in so we can see this one as well. Here again, we have our before and then our after. It's especially noticeable in this area right here. All right. Well, let's double-click the Clarity slider to take this back to normal, and then let's crank up our Contrast.
So now when I increase my Contrast, and I'm going to really go for it here. Press the Spacebar key, and I'll click to pan around just a touch here so we can see a darker part of the image as well. Well, now with more Contrast, when I increase my Clarity, we're going to see that those ridges are even more intense. So Contrast and Clarity really work well together. Let's decrease the Clarity amount. You can see it's not quite as soft as it was when we go ahead and lower Contrast, or for that matter, take Contrast all the way up. So with no Contrast or negative Contrast and negative Clarity, this just becomes kind of a big, soft area.
So what I'm trying to illustrate here is just that Contrast and Clarity will work really well together. Okay. Well, let's double-click these triangles icons to set them back to normal. How then are we're going to use Clarity? Well typically, what we're going to do is increase Clarity just a bit. We don't want to add too much. It's going to really target the middle range tones in here, not the super bright tones, not the super dark ones, but more of the middle range. I kind of like to think of Clarity in regards to woodworking. For example, I love to build things with wood, and if ever I'm building something where it doesn't matter what I'm doing, I'll use a big hammer, and that hammer is going to leave marks.
On the other hand, if I'm working on a project like a bookcase, I'm going to use a finishing hammer. That hammer isn't going to leave a trace of what I've done, and that's exactly what Clarity is like. It's like the finishing hammer, whereas Contrast is like that big, huge sledgehammer. It gets the job done. It can work really quickly, but it's not as delicate. It's not as precise. So again, with Contrast, of course, we need to be careful because we can do more. With Clarity because this tool is a little bit more precise, we're going to think of using it in more incremental ways. In other words, it's very, very rare that you're going to have a super-high amount of Clarity, or it's also pretty rare that you are going to have a really low amount of Clarity.
Typically, it's going to be pretty close to zero, somewhere right within this range. All right. Well now that we've been introduced to this topic of Clarity, let's go ahead and take a look at how we can use this, and we'll do that in the next movie.
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