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Demystifying clarity

From: Photoshop CS5 for Photographers: Camera Raw 6

Video: Demystifying clarity

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.

Demystifying clarity

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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This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS5 for Photographers: Camera Raw 6
Photoshop CS5 for Photographers: Camera Raw 6

121 video lessons · 19932 viewers

Chris Orwig
Author

 
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  1. 8m 57s
    1. Welcome
      54s
    2. Should I use Adobe Camera Raw or Photoshop?
      3m 22s
    3. What is Camera Raw?
      3m 45s
    4. Using the exercise files
      56s
  2. 21m 7s
    1. Bridge overview and preferences
      4m 9s
    2. Camera Raw preferences
      3m 17s
    3. Raw vs. JPG or TIFF files
      3m 5s
    4. Choosing a native raw file or a digital negative (DNG)
      6m 13s
    5. Converting or saving to the DNG format
      4m 23s
  3. 28m 44s
    1. Project overview: Cover photo shoot
      2m 6s
    2. Auto-toning and correcting white balance
      3m 3s
    3. Cropping and composing
      2m 35s
    4. Enhancing color and tone
      2m 39s
    5. Removing distractions
      2m 46s
    6. Sharpening and noise reduction
      2m 29s
    7. Converting to black and white
      2m 24s
    8. Adding a vignette
      2m 10s
    9. Making a localized correction
      1m 45s
    10. Creating snapshots of memorable looks
      3m 11s
    11. Re-editing Camera Raw settings
      57s
    12. Working with multiple adjustments
      2m 39s
  4. 16m 13s
    1. Navigating the interface and the toolbar
      5m 5s
    2. Image adjustment tabs and panels
      5m 8s
    3. Using the histogram
      2m 4s
    4. Previewing before and after different adjustments
      2m 4s
    5. Working with multiple files
      1m 52s
  5. 23m 17s
    1. Opening raw files in Bridge
      6m 3s
    2. Opening JPGs and TIFFs in Bridge
      3m 28s
    3. Accessing Camera Raw from Mini Bridge
      2m 57s
    4. Resizing in Camera Raw with workflow options
      3m 35s
    5. Saving from Camera Raw
      3m 5s
    6. Opening an image as a Smart Object
      1m 41s
    7. Creating a duplicate file
      2m 28s
  6. 13m 56s
    1. Using the Crop and Straighten tools
      2m 23s
    2. Working with the Crop tool
      3m 39s
    3. Cropping with an aspect ratio
      2m 26s
    4. Composing with the Crop tool
      2m 33s
    5. Creative cropping
      2m 55s
  7. 10m 29s
    1. Improving color balance
      2m 23s
    2. Using the White Balance tool and controls
      1m 35s
    3. Color correcting with white balance cards
      2m 31s
    4. White balance vision and creativity
      2m 22s
    5. Color balance resources
      1m 38s
  8. 30m 17s
    1. Deconstructing the basic adjustments
      3m 59s
    2. Recovering highlights
      2m 29s
    3. Making basic exposure enhancements
      1m 59s
    4. Making basic adjustments more quickly
      2m 18s
    5. The relationship between tone and color
      2m 40s
    6. Enhancing color and tone
      1m 9s
    7. Demystifying clarity
      3m 36s
    8. Increasing clarity
      3m 48s
    9. Understanding Vibrance and Saturation
      2m 28s
    10. Improving color with Vibrance
      2m 4s
    11. Using Vibrance and Saturation together
      1m 38s
    12. Color creativity
      2m 9s
  9. 8m 55s
    1. Learning about the parametric and point tone curves
      4m 53s
    2. Using the parametric curve
      2m 7s
    3. Using the point curve
      1m 55s
  10. 15m 29s
    1. Removing blemishes on a face
      4m 36s
    2. Cloning away small background distractions
      3m 37s
    3. Removing distracting background elements
      1m 55s
    4. Cleaning up a studio background
      1m 31s
    5. Removing dust on the lens or the camera sensor
      2m 25s
    6. Removing red-eye
      1m 25s
  11. 46m 13s
    1. Demystifying the Adjustment Brush
      3m 37s
    2. Correcting exposure by brightening shadows
      2m 23s
    3. Painting an effect into a photograph
      4m 41s
    4. Increasing visual interest by brightening shadows
      4m 3s
    5. Increasing visual interest by heightening saturation
      5m 0s
    6. Whitening teeth
      3m 33s
    7. Adding color to makeup
      5m 58s
    8. Changing color
      4m 12s
    9. Selective sharpening
      6m 8s
    10. Eye sharpening and skin smoothing workflow
      4m 28s
    11. Creating custom Adjustment Brush presets
      2m 10s
  12. 11m 33s
    1. Enhancing the foreground and background of an image with the Graduated Filter
      4m 55s
    2. Reducing exposure with the Graduated Filter
      3m 15s
    3. Creative effects with the Graduated Filter
      3m 23s
  13. 33m 26s
    1. Noise reduction
      6m 33s
    2. Reducing noise and sharpening
      6m 36s
    3. Sharpening more effectively
      7m 18s
    4. Edge sharpening in an architectural photograph
      3m 1s
    5. Sharpening a portrait
      2m 3s
    6. Using the Detail panel to soften skin
      7m 55s
  14. 16m 18s
    1. Introducing HSL
      3m 38s
    2. Modifying color and tone
      3m 52s
    3. Enhancing a fashion photograph
      3m 5s
    4. Enhancing color and tone with HSL
      3m 16s
    5. Getting creative with color
      2m 27s
  15. 13m 59s
    1. The black-and-white controls
      2m 43s
    2. A simple black-and-white conversion
      2m 5s
    3. Using multiple panels to create a black-and-white image
      3m 52s
    4. Creating a dramatic black-and-white landscape
      5m 19s
  16. 6m 40s
    1. Traditional black-and-white toning
      3m 26s
    2. Toning a color photo creatively
      3m 14s
  17. 11m 17s
    1. Deconstructing the Lens Correction controls
      3m 48s
    2. Correcting lens vignette
      1m 59s
    3. Correcting lens vignette more quickly
      1m 21s
    4. Correcting chromatic aberration and defringing
      4m 9s
  18. 16m 30s
    1. Understanding the Effects controls
      5m 54s
    2. Using the Post Crop Vignette for creative effects
      3m 23s
    3. Adding film grain to a black-and-white image
      2m 18s
    4. Adding film grain with Camera Raw and Photoshop
      4m 55s
  19. 14m 4s
    1. Introducing the Camera Calibration panel
      3m 39s
    2. Comparing color options with Snapshot
      2m 47s
    3. Creative color with the Camera Calibration controls
      4m 48s
    4. Camera Calibration resources
      2m 50s
  20. 9m 41s
    1. Introducing presets
      2m 27s
    2. Applying presets to multiple images
      3m 9s
    3. Preset resources
      4m 5s
  21. 10m 0s
    1. Quick raw processing of multiple files
      4m 38s
    2. Recording an action
      3m 15s
    3. Batch processing multiple images
      2m 7s
  22. 13m 52s
    1. Creative vivid color
      3m 30s
    2. Working with split toning
      2m 14s
    3. Applying soft and warm colors
      1m 25s
    4. Adding warm, muted colors
      2m 28s
    5. Adding and reducing false color
      4m 15s
  23. 7m 58s
    1. Additional resources
      3m 11s
    2. Camera Raw and Lightroom
      4m 19s
    3. Goodbye
      28s

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