Category Archives Lightroom

I get this question a lot, and so I thought I’d share how I think about the two; how they are different, and when to use them. NOTE: these same two sliders are in Photoshop’s Camera Raw as well).

Both of these sliders enhance or bring out detail in the image, but they do it in very different ways. One isn’t really better than the other, because depending on the image, Clarity might look better on one, and Texture might look better on the next, or maybe a mixture of the two. It’s great to have the flexibility of having both, but here’s a look at how using them can affect the overall tone of your image. 

Above: The original shot is on the left. +100 Texture on the right. It’s more detailed for sure, but there’s not a big tonal change.

When I want to bring out the texture in my image, but I don’t want it to mess with the overall tone too much (or mess with the fine detail areas of the image), I reach for the Texture slider. For example purposes, here I’m cranking up the Texture amount up way higher than I normally would (to +100). In the image you see above, the ‘Before’ photo is on the left, and the ‘After’ photo on the right has the Texture cranked up to +100. You can see that even though I cranked the Texture all the way up, the overall tone of the image is fairly similar. The medium-sized detail has been enhanced throughout the image (a bit hard to see at this size, but very obvious when you see it full size on your own images). That enhanced detail is especially visible on the buildings in front. Everything has more definition and detail, but nothing looks too crazy.

Above: Original on the left: +100 Clarity on the right. Relativity big tonal change. 

Clarity

When I want to bring out detail, and I want things like metal, glass, or water to really “pop” I grab the Clarity slider. Here’s the Clarity slider cranked up to +100, and you can see how contrasty the image has become. The dark areas are much darker and the brighter midtones are brighter, too. The overall tone and color saturation of the image has changed quite a bit, and that’s because the Clarity slider enhances Midtone contrast (well, it does if you drag it to the right, anyway). The glass on the buildings looks much shinier and it really “pops” but look at the road to its right, and the sky — they’re all pretty dark and a bit grungy. If I increased the Shadow slider by the same amount, you’d swear it was an HDR tone-mapped photo. 

Above: here’s a zoomed-in view with the original on the left, and +100 Texture slider on the right.
Above: here’s another zoomed-in view with the original on the left, and +100 Clarity slider on the right.

The Bottomline

The big takeaway here is how much Clarity affects the overall tone of the image (great when you want to get a gritty effect, or make metal, glass, and water shinier), while Texture doesn’t tend to mess with the tone nearly as much, but does a great job bringing out detail. Look at them side-by-side just above. 

I also find that I don’t need to add as much Texture amount to bring out detail as I would with the Clarity slider. I don’t want to say it’s more powerful — maybe it’s just more sensitive. I also often use the two together by dragging the Texture up and then adding about 1/2 as much Clarity (so, if I were to drag the Texture amount up to 50, I would only add 25 or so Clarity if even that much). They do work nicely together. 

Hope you found that helpful, and here’s wishing you a relaxing, fun weekend. Stay safe (it’s COVID-y out there).

-Scott

P.S. I am super psyched – I’m getting to speak in front of an in-person event again! Next month I’m one of the speakers at the big NECCC Photography Conference up in Amherst, MA. The conference is July 15-17, 2022, and I’m teaching all three days, and a pre-conference session as well. Lots of great speakers, and tons of classes and events. Here’s the link to sign up (hope I’ll see you there)!

Well, not nobody…but just about nobody. If you haven’t seen them or seen them and didn’t know what they do, don’t feel bad — it’s not the least bit obvious. Here’s an example of what they do and how to use them. 

STEP ONE: Here’s a behind-the-scenes image of me shooting open in Lightroom Classic’s Library module. Go to the Metadata panel (as seen here) because that’s where the arrows are (this is better than it sounds — stick with me here). 

STEP TWO: In the Metadata panel, if you look to the right of many (most) of these metadata fields, you’ll see a square icon with a right-facing arrow (shown circled here in red). These arrows are actually buttons that are so much more powerful than they look. For example, when I scrolled down near the bottom of the Metadata panel, I could see that this image had GPS location data embedded into the image. If you click on that arrow button to the right of the GPS data field…..

STEP THREE: …it takes you to the Map module and shows you a satellite picture of where you were standing when you took the shot, and it marks your exact location with a yellow tag (in this case, I was in Venice, Italy, in a ballroom at the beautiful Ca’ Sagredo Hotel). 

STEP FOUR: If, instead, I had clicked on the arrow in the field above, the one called “Cropped,” it would…

STEP FIVE: …take me directly to Lightroom’s Develop Module and automatically activates the Crop tool so I can crop the image. If I had clicked the Capture Date arrow instead, it would have immediately displayed all the other photos I took on that same date. See, these arrows are pretty awesome! 

Above: FYI: here’s the final shot that was taken at that location using a super wide-angle lens, where I got down low to give the shot a more epic feel. Pretty incredible ballroom, and our model, dressed in a rented Carnivale gown (it was not Carnivale time), was very patient. 

I hope you’ll give those powerful little arrows a look next time you’re in the Metadata panel. :)

Have a fun weekend, everybody!

-Scott

P.S. I’ll be teaching at B&H Photo’s OPTIC 2022 Outdoor, travel, and wildlife photography conference this weekend in New York City. You can still sign up and either go in person, or you can watch virtually online, and the amazing thing is – whichever you choose, they’re both absolutely free! Why not register right now (it’s free, did I mention the free part?) over at bhoptic.com – I’m teaching classes on travel photography (Monday) and how to post-process your travel images (Sunday). Hope I see you there (or online). 

If you use Lightroom Classic, you just read that headline, and your answer wasn’t “In the last week or two” or perhaps even worse, “I can’t remember when I last backed it up,” then let’s do it right now!!!

While backing up your catalog is easy, first, you might want to know why you need to back up your Lightroom catalog and then how to do it, step-by-step. So, first read this below from my other blog, LightroomKillerTips.com:

Are You Backing Up Your Lightroom Catalog?

After reading that, you might ask, “Where should that backup be stored?” So, read this:

Are You Backing Up Your Lightroom Catalog To The Right Place?

NOTE: If you’re already backing up your catalog regularly, check my post about freeing up a bunch of space by throwing your old, outdated catalog backups away. Here’s that link.

OK, that’s the plan — stop what you’re doing; back up your Lightroom Classic catalog, and you’ll sleep better tonight because of it (well, it’s certainly possible).

Have a great “backed-up feelin’ Monday,” and don’t forget to catch “Travel Tuesdays with Dave” here on the blog tomorrow. :)

-Scott

P.S. Don’t forget, B&H Photo’s OPTIC 2022 outdoor, travel, and wildlife conference kicks off in just a few days – you can attend this multi-day event either in person, or all online, for FREE – just RSVP to let ’em know you’re attending, and you’re all set, ’cause registration is free, free, free!!! Here’s the link. 

On Wednesday’s episode of “The Grid” we did one our most popular episodes (an idea from our friend Terry White), where we ask our viewers to send in an unedited photo (like the Raw “before” photo seen below sent in by Fredrik Brettman). The photo is solid – very well composed, it’s a great subject, there’s just a ton to like, but when you shoot in RAW, you usually get a very flat-looking photo to start with, but as you’ll see in the short video below – you don’t have to settle for what comes out of the camera. That’s why we have Lightroom and Photoshop – to bring images like Fredrik captured to life.

In this clip from ‘The Grid” below I take you from the Raw image (above left) to the after image on the right, and you see every step of the process along the way. The video starts 9-minutes and 21-seconds into the show – right where where I start editing the Raw image. It’s most Lightroom/Camera Raw, with some cool, but very easy, moves in Photoshop, and then an optional move at the end. Hope you’ll check it out below:

See, that’s why we need post-processing. That’s why learning this stuff is so important, but once you learn it, it’s just so much fun watching what develops.

Hope you found that informative, helpful, fun, and here’s wishing you a great, safe, healthy, happy weekend! :)

-Scott

P.S. Don’t forget – the Lightroom Conference kicks off next week – 2 full days (plus a pre-conference “Lightroom Crash Course” the day before), with two simultaneous training tracks, with an all-star team of instructors, and you get the entire conference archived for an entire year. Here’s the link to the full conference schedule, more info, and tickets (get yours name and save a bundle). 

Amazon fulfilled all the pre-orders, and then they were out of stock for a while, but now thankfully the print edition is back in stock. All the new Masking stuff is in the edition, and lots of other important new stuff, updates, and improvements (it’s my biggest update for the book in years). 

Check out the trailer below for more details on the new edition: 

Here’s the link to pick up a copy (perfect to get with that Amazon gift card you got for Christmas) or for a friend (idea gift), or just because you’re loose with money. You can also pick it up at Barnes & Noble (love B&H), right here. 

Here’s wishing you an absolutely kick-butt week, full of Lightroom learnin’.

-Scott

P.S. Excited that the Bucs won their playoff game yesterday – we play the winner of tonight’s Cardinals/Rams game next week (GoCards!). 

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