Tuesday, February 12, 2013
This incredibly useful control helps close the gap between actual global contrast and apparent contrast in a photo
One of the more interesting challenges that the digital revolution brought home to nearly every photographer, both amateur and professional alike, is that with digital, you're now in control of your own image processing. And with power, comes responsibility!
Photoshop has had a basic Contrast control from the beginning. But now we have much more sophisticated processing controls. Here, we look at one of those controls: Clarity in Lightroom and Camera Raw.
The Clarity control grew out of the fact that digital captures frequently lack "apparent" contrast. A digital photo can have perfectly respectable global contrast and still appear flat on the computer screen or in print, relative to the way our eye might respond to the scene in real life. The Clarity control closes this gap, by increasing (or decreasing) midtone contrast and edge definition.
What is edge definition? Edge definition is sometimes also called local contrast, so in many ways it's related to sharpening. Pushing up Clarity has the effect of enhancing overall apparent contrast, by increasing the contrast of image contours, or edges. This can be seen very clearly by creating a simple grayscale in Lightroom or Camera Raw, and pushing the Clarity control up and down.
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