less clarity please



One of my favourite functions in Lightroom has been the Clarity slider. It came out with version 1.3 of LR (I think) and it was an instant success in the LR blogosphere. You will find lots of hints, tips, how-to and FAQs about it on the interweb. As such I didn’t want to label as another tip as there are loads out there (even though that’s what this really is!). It’s effect is to boost the contrast in just the mid-tone regions and leave the highlights and shadows alone. I think I’ve boosted the clarity on almost all my pictures – one of the Lightroom gurus (not exactly sure who) even called this the “make my picture better” slider.

With Lightroom 2, the Clarity slider changed a bit. Instead of going from 0 to 100, the range now went between -100 to 100. Negative clarity?! eh?

The Clarity slider lives at the bottom of the Basic panel in the Develop module, together with the Vibrance (another good slider to experiment with) and Saturation sliders. I converted the image above to black & white and then moved the Clarity slider all the way to -100. (As the image was converted to black & white, there’s no need for colour control and so the Vibrance and Saturation sliders are greyed out).


It’s effect is to soften the whole image. It’s quite a surreal effect. I thought there was too much softening on my model, so to give help accentuate her presence, I used an adjustment brush on just her and boosted the Clarity back up to 100, giving that subtle but oh-so effective contrast boost to just her person. 

Overall, I quite like the effect. For me, its got that 1920’s feel to it (except that the model is wearing flip flops!)… but what do you think?


2 thoughts on “less clarity please”

  1. Negative clarity is great, yes? I use it quite frequently now. But I find that I don’t like the effect if I take it past about -25 to -35 if I use it on the whole photo. You can also paint negative clarity in with the adjustment brush, or create a gradiant mask of negative clarity, which can be a cool effect with a situation like a forest scene. It can give you kind of an infrared look without the other tonality, which is cool.


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