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46 Messages

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562 Points

Sat, Mar 17, 2012 5:53 PM

4

Lightroom: Iimprovement suggestions on Clarity and Print Module

A couple of nits to pick about Lightroom 4, addressing these will create a much stronger product:

1. The clarity slider now makes substantial structural and tonal changes, especially visible on smooth surfaces like skin. This makes is much less useful and usable than the earlier versions. Yes, it prevents halos, but the result is generally unacceptable for me anywhere beyond 15-20 depending on the image.

2. The print module still does not have a good way of placing text with precise control below the image on the template. I have a workaround, but it is, well, a workaround. The watermark feature has a great set of tools, why not enable them for the identity plate placement on the page? The watermark feature allows for placing the text outside the image with negative offsets but then it is not visible! Why have this option and then hide the text?

3. I would love to have multiple line text in the print module with a simple graphic line without doing all that in Photoshop and bringing it as a graphic identity plate. See example of workaround and one output from LR at:

http://www.keptlight.com/2012/01/prin...

See what I would like to get direct from Lightroom, top left image at:
http://www.keptlight.com/shop/orchid-...

Responses

216 Messages

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4.8K Points

9 years ago

I'm completely with you with the clarity slider:
In my opinion the new algorithm isn't useable for skins. Maybe in landacape photography it brings better results but for portrait photography the clarity slider can't be used any more. Also converting portrait images from old to new process makes absolutely bad structure and contrast to the skin.
Maybe an option button, which clarity algorithm to use for an individual picture would be a solution.

Champion

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1.4K Messages

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24.5K Points

9 years ago

It has been widely discussed that Clarity needs a much finer touch now than in LR3.x. It has been suggested that cutting your pre LR4 setting in half gets you a good starting point.

As someone who retouches somewhere in the hundreds of people images every month, I can tell you that I rarely go to clarity as a global adjustment on any image with skin. That was the case in LR 3.x as well.

46 Messages

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562 Points

9 years ago

Good to see supporting messages. I have written on Lightroom 4 and it's ills on my Web site. It is a very good software and to a large extent it works very well. But I don't know what kind of guidance they followed to arrive at a version with these shortcomings. Even if one used the clarity with restraint in LR3, the results were aimed at "clarity" not "tonality". Now, it is a mixed bag, up to a point it works like the old clarity (say around 15-25), beyond that it works like exaggerated tone mapping. On another Adobe forum where I posted a similar message, another user said he wished the clarity was even stronger, to what end I fail to understand.

If you care to read my posts on these matters, here are the links:
http://www.keptlight.com/2012/03/ligh...
http://www.keptlight.com/2012/03/lr4-...
http://www.keptlight.com/2012/04/ligh...

Thanks for chiming in and lending your support.

Champion

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1.4K Messages

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24.5K Points

9 years ago

I think you misread. I am not in support of reverting clarity to LR 3.x functionality. I am saying Clarity -any version is not a tool I would use with skin. I am also pointing out that the new Clarity tool needs to be used with more care and finesse than the 3.x tool.

46 Messages

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562 Points

9 years ago

Rikk, I got your message loud and clear. I was merely pointing at the heavy handedness of LR 4 clarity slider on which you seem to agree. Like any set of tools each user picks their favorites and may ignore the rest. I did not mean to put words in your mouth.

1.3K Messages

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22.5K Points

It's the user who is heavy handed though. The tool is twice as strong as it used to be, so use it more gently.

46 Messages

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562 Points

I fully understand, subscribe to, and even preach in my lectures the notion "a little goes a long way" in all edits I make. When all the edits are done, the photograph should look "effortlessly done, with no visible signs of edits."

The point I am trying to make is this: In Lightroom 3 we had a hammer, in Lightroom 4 we have a sledgehammer. The tool and its nature has changed. Although both have handles and heads, the way they are used and where they are applied are substantially different. Simply saying "don't hit the nail as hard" does not even apply to a sledgehammer.

1.3K Messages

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22.5K Points

Though yes the tool's character has changed, I feel you're making a fuss about nothing here. More like a bigger sharper knife than a bigger blunter hammer. Aren't people smart enough to adapt how they use it?

46 Messages

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562 Points

Sorry to have distracted you from what you were doing. Please ignore my comments.

76 Messages

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1.5K Points

9 years ago

I find also the new clarity slider a bit strange: more than clarity it looks like tonal structure. It's true that now clarity doesn't makes halos but certainly makes other stuff: JPG's like artifacts, saturation and color changing. I'm not saying that the new clarity is better or worse, I find it different. It works for different things. I hope I could see the old and the new clarity working at the same time - old one named as clarity and the new one as structure or tonal contrast-.

46 Messages

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562 Points

9 years ago

You can see them side by side in Lightroom 4. Pick a photograph an create a virtual copy of it. Select on and enter the develop module and scroll the panels on the right all the way down to Camera Calibration. For the process choose "2010" and that will now work with Lightroom 3 controls. On the other one you can make adjustments using the Lightroom 4 controls and see them side by side.

4.5K Messages

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76.3K Points

9 years ago

Cemal,

Consider separate topics for each item.

Regarding clarity:

Lr4 clarity is indeed very different than Lr3 clarity, and I actually use it on far fewer photos than I used Lr3 clarity on.

Thankfully, Lr4 is capable of producing clearer images without it, otherwise I would miss it even more.

So like many things Lightroom, I have a love/hate relationship with it.

Love: how much better it is than Lr3 clarity, on some photos.
Hate: how it detracts from many normal images that would have been improved by a touch of Lr3 clarity.

What I wish is that I had more control over it's effect. As it stands, it's amount can be controlled, or it can be applied locally, but there is no way to limit it's effect to midtones, or shift the balance between micro contrast and macro contrast enhancement.........

A couple of tips:
1. Use +contrast -highlights +shadows to increase midtone contrast (so less +clarity is needed for that purpose).
2. Use +clarity +blacks -highlights -shadows to reduce impact on global tonality, and somewhat mitigate it's clarifying effect in the shadows.
3. Use local -clarity to spot reduce it's effect (or of course, just apply locally in the first place...)

1 & 2 are supported using relative presets via cookmarks:

http://www.robcole.com/Rob/ProductsAn...
(see PV2012 tone section under "photo adjustment links").

Rob

46 Messages

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562 Points

9 years ago

Rob, thanks for the detailed comments here and on my site. I posted the brief list here based on a suggestion from Julieanne Kost on her site, to bring these to the attention of Adobe engineers. I am surprised, and somewhat disappointed, that neither on this forum nor another Adobe forum there has not been a single reply from an Adobe staff. My printing and clarity posts on my site are extensive and clearly documented. I hope that they have at least taken a quick look at them.

They can easily limit the effect of the clarity slider to midtones since they have algorithms to separate the highlights and shadows. What is not in one of these areas must be the midtone. This version of clarity is in need of one or two additional parametric sliders, radius and tonal range.

Appreciate your comments, thanks.

Cemal

4.5K Messages

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76.3K Points

Adobe reads most posts, but replies to few...

Overall, new clarity is an improved and awesome tool, but can't be used in as many circumstances because it's more comprehensive impact is just not right for many photos.

And as you've noticed, it's not just a matter of using less - even a little bit may be detrimental in some photos...

Personally, I'm not sweating it too much, because PV2012 can make such clear pictures even without added clarity, and I've learned to use other techniques and/or apply locally when it's global effects do not seem appropriate.

As I said before, I wish I could control how it behaves more so I could have the aspects as I like them for one photo, then customize it's effect more for how I'd like it different in another photo...

Rob

46 Messages

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562 Points

I am sure I will get used to the new workflow in time, I am working in LR 4 now but not as efficiently as I was in LR 3. There is always Photoshop! But printing is truly a problem, I cannot print from Lightroom any longer, it is just plain wrong according to my reasonably controlled testing.

Cemal

4.5K Messages

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76.3K Points

Hi Cemal,

If it's any consolation, it took me a really long time to master the new PV2012 controls - they seem simple, but there are important subtleties in results depending on how they are applied...

Sorry I can't help with the printing problem (I assume you are aware of Lr/Mogrify for overlays...(?)).

Rob

46 Messages

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562 Points

Yes indeed, subtle or strong the differences are real. For instance, I don't know if you have noticed, under some adjustment circumstances moving the highlights slider to the right or left have exactly the same result. This happens of course in a limited range, say -15 to +15 but the behavior is likely the result of some complex math.

I am familiar with Lr/Mogrify, in fact it is one of several Lr tools I wrote about a while back. But, the problem with the printing is that the result is noticeably lighter than what is on the screen and what Photoshop CS6, CS5, or LR 3 produces. Oh, well. I did my part and documented the behavior. And, yes, my monitor is calibrated and profiled.

Cemal

4.5K Messages

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76.3K Points

Cemal,

New clarity is awesome on some photos, but it's effect seems less compatible with the average photo, to me - or at least no more than the tiniest bit on some photos - globally anyways.

As I said previously, in my opinion, it's not so necessary as it used to be, thankfully, since -blacks +shadows tends to create a lot of shadow "clarity", and +whites -highlights tends to create a lot of highlight "clarity", and +contrast -highlights +shadows tends to create a lot of midtone "clarity"...

Anyway, PV2012 divvies up the tonal range of the sliders depending on the tonal distribution of the photo, and may also have some different behaviors as yet unidentified by me, depending on it's analysis of the presence of various tones (and colors?) - I have definitely seen some odd slider behaviors which sometimes seem "non-optimal" and other times seem like they were "on purpose".

One thing - if highlights slider is acting wonky - try the whites slider instead. Likewise, if shadow slider is acting wonky, try the blacks slider instead. Sometimes highlights/whites sliders need a delicate balance - ditto for blacks/shadows... - I've even had photos that really preferred if I leave highlights/shadows sliders near zero and use blacks/whites almost exclusively for fill/recovery. And of course normal photos generally respond well to shadows & highlights sliders for much of their fill-light & recovery...

To clarify, are you saying that moving the highlights slider doesn't do much of anything within a certain range, say -15 to +15, or that the positive value results in same thing as the negative value, say -15 vs. +15 (both of which are a different effect than at say zero), if you catch the distinction??

PS - I'm not qualified to comment on the printing issue.

Rob

513 Messages

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11.1K Points

9 years ago

I agree that the old clarity should have been left alone and the new clarity should have been added as a new "faux HDR look" slider.

I don't like the faux HDR look at high settings at all and am puzzled by the tonal changes at lower settings.

Too bad that most people even didn't ask for what they now must love/hate (which includes all of the changed basic panel controls) and would have preferred to see efforts spend elsewhere.

46 Messages

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562 Points

9 years ago

That would have been sensible TK. I have just finished giving a presentation on HDR imaging at the local photo club where I emphasized that HDR does not have a look, that look should be called possibly "CTM look (creative tone mapping)" since it can be obtained from a single photo. Many of the Lightroom and Photoshop gurus are to blame for this misconceived naming and practice. (See a longer exposition on my site: http://www.keptlight.com/2012/02/what... )

Cemal

2 Messages

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90 Points

9 years ago

I like the look I can get with the clarity slider but as a time lapse photographer it applies itself so specifically to each image it's all but impossible to use it on a sequence of photos. In a simple city scene with clouds moving across the sky the same adjustment applied yields wide (and seemingly random) variations in tonal and exposure values. I know this is an issue for pano photographers as well. It would be great to see a way to duplicate exatly the effect from one image to a group of similar images without the reinterpretation of data from each image.

46 Messages

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562 Points

9 years ago

Earlier, either on this forum or another one, I also mentioned the seemingly random behavior of the clarity slider. This is particularly problematic, as you indicate, on clear sky or one with clouds. In my example, clarity changed the tonality of the sky that was far away from any detail. In 2010 process, the effect of clarity was generally limited to areas where there was varying degrees of detail. Now, it is, or seems to be, driven by tonal characteristics of the photograph. I'm afraid this version upgrade will be remembered as the one that broke the stride of Lightroom.

Take a look at this thread for different examples I provided:
http://forums.adobe.com/thread/976601

Cemal

66 Messages

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1.2K Points

9 years ago

Re Clarity, I much prefer the new LR4 version. Going fully positive works well and fully negative is lovely soft-focus for the right type of image. Great stuff.

As for portraiture, the clarity can now be applied locally if desired or even negated locally.

The shadow adjustment however could do with a greater range I feel.

For the right subject these controls are great. For other subjects, use them with care. Simples?

2 Messages

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90 Points

9 years ago

To ahem, clarify my post on clarity my suggestion for improvenment is to add the ability to copy or sync the clarity settings from one image to a group or sequence of similar images without allowing the reinterpretation of data from each image. If you try now for example to sync a similar batch of landscapes with the new clarity tool (from the clarity settings from one image) you will find each images renders differently, both in tone and exposure. If you are attempting to stich a pano or create a time lapse sequence those inconsistencies will make it impossible to create a cohesive work.