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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.
Now that we know a little bit about Clarity, let's go ahead and take a look at how we can use this in order to improve our photographs. All right. Well here we have this really interesting portrait of this professional surfer. What I want to do is double-click the Zoom tool in order to zoom in on the image. Next, I want to really deconstruct what Clarity is doing. I want to compare this to how Contrast works. In order to do that, I am going to go ahead and select this particular tool here, which allows us to set a few sample points. Click on it, and then I want to go ahead and click on the eye because that's a nice bright white area.
I am also going to click on this area over the hair over here. Here we can see these RGB values of #1 the eye and #2 that hair. Now if I go ahead and increase my Contrast, let's take a note of what's happening here with a really exaggerated amount of Contrast. Well, in this case we can see that these blacks became blacker, the whites became whiter, and there is a huge color shift, a really unnatural and strange color shift. Here we have our before, look at those numbers - #1 and #2, and then after. Again, you can see that there is a big variance when we look at our before and then after.
So it's not only affecting the middle range of the tones, but it's affecting those deeper tones as well, those blacks and those whites. The same thing is going to be the case if we have a negative amount of Contrast. Here you can see I am also affecting those areas, before and then after. With Contrast, we are really seeing that Contrast does indeed affect color saturation pretty closely. All right. Well let's double-click this, and let's take a look at Clarity. Well, Clarity on the other hand, if we crank this all the way up to 100 there, we are going to see that the image actually still looks okay.
If we look at our numbers up top and look at our before and then our after, what we are seeing is it's not even really affecting the hair at all. It's affecting the eye a little bit, the brighter tones, not very much. We can also see that this is being really applied to more on these middle-range tones, and there isn't a huge color problem here at the image as well. Yes, there is a color shift but not as drastic as there was with Contrast. All right. Well what about Negative Clarity? Well, Negative Clarity is going to go a little bit interesting. What's going to happen is as we decrease Clarity it's going to soften everything up.
As we go too far, the image is just going to look horrible. So let's decrease this all the way. But here, again, you can see that what it's doing is it's really working on the midtone contrast areas. And in this case, kind of flattening the image out and mucking up its color. It's kind of horrible. So, Negative Clarity can be used a lot of times in a more shallow result just to soften the image a touch, or sometimes what we'll look at later so we can paint in Negative Clarity to particular areas. All right. Well let's reset that. How then can we realistically work with these two controls? Well, let's clear our Samples.
What we typically want to do is dial in our appropriate amount of Contrast first, because that's kind of the bigger tool, gets the overall contrast on the right spot. Next, we'll go into Clarity. With Clarity, all that we are looking, again, to do is to add a little bit of that mid-tone snap to our image. A lot of times what this will do is will add just a bit more dimension to the file. What we are going to see here isn't going to be huge, at least on the monitor. Here we have our before and then our after. But keep in mind, with Clarity we are not looking for huge results.
Unless, of course you are interested in creating a little bit more of a specialized or distinct look, like we could create by really cranking this up, now we have, again, a much more dominant or prominent aesthetic, or look, based on Clarity. So, do just keep in mind that you can set this amount to what works for you. But typically with most images you are going to find that adding just a little bit of clarity or really add just a bit of snap or bit a pop to your photographs.
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