• Andy Whysall

That 'clarity' slider

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

I wasn't going to use this blog to rant on about technicals, but I've got some really atmospheric pictures of Holy Island that I've been working on and the sometimes controversial Adobe Lightroom clarity slider has been in action. Just have some thoughts on it.

I know people who treat it like Satan and stay away from it all together, but there are times when it's very useful indeed. All it does is adjust micro-contrast at the borders between light and dark, and it's amazing how a tiny bit of it can give a little punch to an image that otherwise is just a bit flat. Even a minute fraction too much, though, and your picture starts turning into a cartoon - think The Hobbit movies. It really can be Satan if over-used with taste and judgement parameters not adjusted (unless you really want The Hobbit - I'm sure plenty use it for that effect).

When it is really very good though is for micro-softening. For example, I use Fujinon X lenses and they are SO sharp sometimes (most of the time) that I use a negative setting on the clarity slider just to take that edge off the pictures and make them actually look like photographs. In these Holy Island pix, taken on my phone, I used it to destroy contrasty cloud edges in an evening sky, to blur the boundaries between cloud and bright open sky, and also to reduce some jpeg artefacts. These pictures were taken as jpegs, in gathering gloom and impending snow, with my shaky hands, and I STILL had to apply some negative clarity. I'm quite pleased with myself on that one.

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