Lightroom Tips

The Clarity Slider Public Service Announcement

Hey there. I hope everyone had a great weekend. Today I’ve got more of a public service announcement for you when it comes to the Clarity slider in Lightroom. The other day I saw a photo with a bit of a washed out background. Now, I think the background was washed out because it was off in the distance and when the person took the photo and I think it probably looked washed out when they were standing there. The point is, I realized I could spot a heavy clarity adjustment pretty quick. There was a tree line near a bright sky and the top of the tree line was dark and then it quickly faded into washed-outness below. In fact, I have a photo that demonstrates this perfectly so take a look at the before and after below (you definitely need to click on it for a larger version):

See what I mean? The only change I made was to crank the Clarity setting up pretty high (90 in this case) and the effect it has on the tops of the trees make it a dead giveaway (and it looks a little weird and uneven too). I did find that keeping it around 30 made a nice improvement though so you don’t have to abandon Clarity all together in these situations. And another alternative is to paint clarity on in selective areas with the Adjustment Brush tool. In the long run, it’s not the end of the world but just something to keep an eye out when you’re working on your photos.