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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

513 Messages

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11.1K Points

9 years ago

Is it possible that it is easier to predict PV 2010 results and PV 2010 is hence less "squirrely" to use, because PV 2010 does not try to be "smart"?

It appears that "image adaptive" approaches are not ideal for people who know what they want and need tools that work predictably.

It is fine to suggest to stick with PV 2010, but this also means one does not get other PV 2012 goodies, such as the WB balance adjustment brush settings.

If we could have a tick box "image adaptive on/off" that may do the trick. Same for other "auto" stuff, such as the now permanent highlight protection. Why it isn't possible to turn off all this patronizing auto stuff is beyond me. It clearly is not the case that it is optimal to always leave things on "auto" as many feedback responses demonstrate.

4.5K Messages

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76.3K Points

TK - I think you are on the right track...

46 Messages

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562 Points

TK, a global check box or several selective check boxes, or even a new panel with the new set of adjustments will all be welcome. Sticking with the 2010 process is an interim solution that takes me out of the frustration zone and it may not work for others. But there seems to be some agreement among some participants that the new set of controls are squirrely, unpredictable, patronizing, or any other name by which the control is taken from the user and given to the software "smarts".

66 Messages

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1.2K Points

As one who appreciates squirrely, I'd vote for accommodating both types of clarity tool!

4.5K Messages

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76.3K Points

It's worth noting that the image-adaptive behavior is based on the entire image. So if you are working on a crop, the control ranges and effects are partly governed by tones you can no longer see.

PS - It's possible to work on a photo using a combination of PV2012 & PV2010 tools by exporting for extended edits using other PV in Lightroom. I have automated this in Dev-Correct/2012 (@now, exports PV2012 version for edit with PV2010 tools, not the other way around).

Rob

4.5K Messages

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76.3K Points

9 years ago

Link to final images copied from post above:

http://robcole.com/Rob/Personal/Pictu...

Cemal PV2010 settings:


Notes:
* Strong HSL adjustments to enhance net not shown.
* Intricate tone/point curve.

RC PV2012 Natural:

Notes:
* Weak HSL adjustments to enhance net not shown.
* Subtle tone curve left in by mistake - really not necessary for this photo.

RC PV2012 Punchier:

Notes:
* No HSL adjustments to enhance net.
* Tone curve removed.

Making sense of PV2012 settings, using "Punchier" as example:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Exposure +.40 & Whites +20: Brightens entire photo and undulls highlights. Perhaps seems unintuitive at first, since photo was not underexposed, but not atypical in PV2012, since highlights slider can "reduce exposure" of the top end. One of the things PV2010'rs often miss, is that exposure works with shadows slider to increase and extend the fill, whilst highlights slider keeps top end in check. Large brightness value was being used in lieu of exposure in PV2010 case.
* Contrast +80: This photo needed a lot of contrast to have the tonal punch that was desired. In the 2010 case, most of the contrast came by way of the tone curve.
* Highlights -80: Necessary to reduce top end that would have otherwise been over-bright due to increased exposure/whites and contrast. In 2010 case, large 'Recovery' value was used instead.
* Shadows +80: Typical symmetric opposing value for shadows when exposure is set for "normal" midtone brightness. In PV2010 case, this light was coming from 'Fill' slider, and brightness.
* Clarity 30: Contributes to the punch. Works well in this photo since there is no "right light" (sense of exactly how bright various regions "should" be). If I were to optimize this photo further, I would declarify some of the distracting regions to better focus attention on featured subject matter. Approximately half the value used in PV2010 case.
*Vib/Sat - slight boost. Not much boost needed since high contrast was already contributing to increased saturation.

Important PV2012 thang:
* Range of tones affected by highlights slider depends on exposure. With exposure increased to .40, highlights slider was operating more like what was expected. In "Natural" settings, where reduced exposure was used, it was favorable to have a larger +shadows value, and smaller -highlights value.

Other than the previously mentioned PV2012 image-adaptive caveat (and that's just a matter of getting used to through experience), the PV2012 settings are really as sensible as the PV2010 settings. Don't you think?

Cemal's original 2012 rendition had:
---------------------------------------------
* very low exposure and contrast, in the interest of trying to replicate certain tonal characterstics of PV2010 (in the highlights) that just aren't what PV2012 does. If this effect is essential, then PV2010 is essential... (Huge +whites was being used to try to bring up the exposure & contrast, but that does not work well in this photo since the top end is already very extended, and too much +whites just blows it out...).
* negative 14 clarity, changed to 0 at some point. New Lr4 clarity works wonders for this photo, in my opinion, but again - if you don't like how it looks, you've got to stick with PV2010 for old clarity...
* Personally I think exposure and shadows fill this photo nicely, but the look is indeed different than Lr3 fill. If you can't get used to the look of PV2012 shadows, then you have to use PV2010. (Note: including +blacks should be considered first though...).

Wrap-up:
------------
Overall, I like this photo better as edited with PV2012 than PV2010, and although I got tripped up in the beginning due to the exposure/highlight-range phenomenon, next time, this photo would be edited very quickly using PV2012.

Rob

46 Messages

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562 Points

Hi all, I have no objection to learning a new tool, even a new behavior. My problem is with the way the tools work under different conditions. Now, in addition to learning the tools I also need to learn when do they do what. For instance, it would not occur to me to increase the exposure in this photo since it is not underexposed. That done with the intention of using highlights in a particular way enters the voodoo domain!! ;-) In other words, there is an unexplained interaction among tools that remain a mystery, to me at least.

Cemal

4.5K Messages

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76.3K Points

Hopefully Adobe has got your point by now.

But after a while things will start to click - hang in there Cemal...

I suspect you've forgotten how long it took to really be proficient with PV2003/10 too, could that be? ;-}

Dunno if these would help you at this point, or if you need to go the last miles on your own...:

http://forums.adobe.com/thread/968940...
http://forums.adobe.com/message/42590...

Rob

2 Messages

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70 Points

Of course, I haven't actually worked on this photo, but just looking over the settings, it seems they are extreme and counteracting each other, in both the Natural and Punchier version. For example, the contrast is cranked way up, which adds highlights and deepens shadows, then the effects on the highlights are substantially decreased and the shadows slider settings increased. The changes to the highlights and shadows essentially counteract effects added by the contrast. Was that really the only way you felt you could get the effects you were looking for? You don't think you could get the results you were looking for more directly (eg start with adding less contrast) I'm not trying to be critical, but am curious. Thanks.

46 Messages

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562 Points

Although the adjustments seem to counter each other they differ in the range they impact. It is not uncommon to increase the exposure but to decrease the highlights for instance. The main point of this thread was about the behavior of the clarity slider, it still remains problematic for me but I deal with it. The common reply is that in the 2012 version you need a much lighter touch on the clarity. If I'm not going to use all that range, why bother putting it there instead of making the slider use the full range for finer adjustments. This is similar to having the speedometer in your car to go up to 300mph although the maximum speed you should use is considerably less. It is a dead issue by now, I have learned to ignore the clarity slider 98% of the time; others love it for the "punch" it give them.

2 Messages

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70 Points

Thanks for the response. I came across this thread looking for more info on using the clarity slider. I had only recently let it go up to the high teens sometimes, usually less, but from what I'm seeing and coming across, will go back to being more judicious about it. Still, I was curious about the need to push the sliders settings I was asking about so strongly in self-cancelling effects.

46 Messages

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562 Points

No problem Bil. As I said, the sliders vary in their scope; that's why you may see an increase in exposure coupled with a reduction in highlights. Because the latter controls a narrower range of tones while the former much wider. This is my practice, others may differ on the use of the sliders.

4.5K Messages

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76.3K Points

|> "You don't think you could get the results you were looking for more directly (eg start with adding less contrast)"

Actually, with more PV2012 experience under my belt, I do tend to use less contrast (but more -blacks...).

And you are absolutely right - the less contrast you use, the less -highlights & +shadows you need. It's all about what you want from the photo: +contrast pulls from the "middle" outward, and -highlights & +shadows push back from the outside toward the middle (think: histogram) - in a way which enhances regional detail (see trshaner's post about it, down a ways). The net result is more midtone contrast without closing out the shadows or losing too much highlight detail. It also makes for a less natural photo, but with more pizazz. Want natural? keep contrast down, highlights/shadows down, and clarity down. Want pizazz? - crank 'em up.

Want some parts pizazzy and other parts more natural - use locals.

Regarding the fish photo - I was looking for results akin to what I thought Cemal wanted based on his PV2010 processing and verbal accompaniment - maybe I got it wrong...

Bottom line is whether you can master it or not for the kind of results YOU want. If not, maybe the new Lightroom is not for you - it does have a characteristic look, as does all raw processing software that seeks to do things like "clarify", and "recover highlights" and "fill shadows"... - I've come to like it very much overall, but concede: not in all ways and all regions of all photos...

PS - I used to finish most photos with Topaz Adjust and/or Topaz Detail to give them a little more "clarity" and "punch". I rarely use those Topaz tools anymore, since PV2012 accomplishes the same general goal with better quality, and without leaving the comfort of Lightroom. But if your style is more simple/soft&natural, I can imagine that you might be frequently at odds with PV2012.

Cheers,
Rob

513 Messages

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11.1K Points

9 years ago

Rob, you wrote "It's possible to work on a photo using a combination of PV2012 & PV2010 tools by exporting for extended edits using other PV in Lightroom."

I do not think this is an acceptable solution. If using an external editor with the implied loss of a non-destructive workflow were a solution, we would not need to ask for better retouching support for Lightroom.

4.5K Messages

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76.3K Points

Well, what's acceptable depends on how desperate you are ;-}

But just to clarify, for all practical purposes, the non-destructive workflow is 100% maintained, since the exported copy is continually re-exported in order to propagate changes from the starter PV to the finishing PV (no external editor is involved), i.e. it's more like an intermediate temp file than a permanent cookage...

In case it's still not clear, what's happening is:
* Final result is rgb temp file with PV2010 edits applied.
* rgb temp file is updated each time raw file is edited using PV2012 (via re-export).
* Lightroom automatically updates final result after applying PV2010 edits to rgb temp file.

eh?

Still, your point is well taken - it's a klugy workaround to be sure...

R

513 Messages

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11.1K Points

Interesting, Rob. Thanks for the clarification.

That must be the same approach that Fried used to marry Layers and Lightroom (which is not "Layers in Lightroom" as he is careful to point out :)).

4.5K Messages

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76.3K Points

Similar I think. If I remember correctly, Jeffrey is feeding the layer images into Photoshop from Lightroom as smart objects, then updating the resultant rgb file in Lightroom.

427 Messages

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7.7K Points

9 years ago

I am confused now. I just tried Cemal's "Gray_checker_for clarity test.jpg" again with the RC2 - and it turns nearly completely black (!) around clarity +50 (except the lower right white box).



What is going on? Is this intended?

4.5K Messages

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76.3K Points

That is really different behavior. If it's not a bug it certainly warrants official explanation - perhaps you should make a thread on the feedback site about it.

427 Messages

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7.7K Points

Ok, I made a separate thread about it: http://feedback.photoshop.com/photosh.... Please reply/discuss there.

4.5K Messages

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76.3K Points

Good job :-)

66 Messages

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1.2K Points

9 years ago

After a lot of experimenting in LR4.2 I am now comfortable doing the unintuitive such as deliberately altering apparently good exposure so as to give more room for other adjustments which bring the histogram back within norms but in such a way that clarity for example or highlite recovery works better. Hard to explain but it's down to learning the "quirks" of the underlying 2012 engine.

4.5K Messages

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76.3K Points

Welcome to the fold ;-)

46 Messages

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562 Points

9 years ago

Rob, all, I have read the thread and the links Rob provided. Although Rob's explanations are quite detailed, and quite possibly will work to produce good results, I suggest that the process significantly deviates from "photographic" concepts and moves more into "engineering" or technical domain. Photographers have worked with the same concepts for decades whether using film, printing in the darkroom, or processing digital files. The building block of film exposure and development as well as darkroom printing has been the response curve of the file and the paper and the developer behavior. The critical parts of the curve are the shoulder and the toe along with the slope which defines the contrast. That said, increasing the exposure of a properly exposed "negative" i.e. digital capture is very counter intuitive for people who have gotten accustomed to these ideas. My fear is that if we, the users of Lightroom, "get used to" the new engine we may find the next version requiring another paradigm shift. Up until Lr 4, the photographic paradigm worked reasonably well in this software, albeit some limitations and inconsistent behavior. The new paradigm, which you say works well and I trust your judgment, is altogether different if the quirks are necessary as described.

What I would like to see:
1. A photographically sound, sensitometric processing paradigm
2. Not forcing photographers to keep adjusting their mental frameworks that they have developed over years of experience
3. Get more feedback from photographers and allow engineers to fulfill the photographic paradigm and promise

Cemal

4.5K Messages

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76.3K Points

Fair enough Cemal. I got most of this kind of critique out of my system during beta testing, so now I'm all about just increased proficiency. But your points are well taken...

66 Messages

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1.2K Points

Maybe the mistake is to see Clarity as a photographic rather than a creative adjustment? After all there is no equivalent in the wet processes is there? I mostly use it to soften skies or skin, giving a glow. It can't be used in isolation though.

46 Messages

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562 Points

Brian, you are correct in stating there is no clarity in the wet process. However, the wet process also does not use Bayer mosaic which needs demosaicing which creates aliasing. Thus the need for clarity, or the way it was originally presented. I am willing to live without clarity but there are other quirks as well. Today I have found out that cropping changes the histogram creating shadow and highlight clipping where uncropped image has no clipping. I have no way to explain it other than as another quirk. I am still using LR4, albeit reluctantly. Partly the old familiarity with its previous versions, partly habit, and partly not having a decent substitute in the Windows environment. We'll see how my affair with Lr 4 progresses.

1 Message

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60 Points

7 years ago

I truly dislike how clarity has changed. It makes the skin look dirty by extending into the mid tones quite drastically.
My question would be why did they change it? Did people complain about the version 3 clarity. It was a workable tool and I believe they should have added a qualifier by extending the choice of which tonal range one wishes to apply it to than forcing it.
Especially if one has a certain style you created and now its so difficult to replicate the same look.
I don't want to compensate with an array of sliders to get it near close. One should not have to compensate exposure to approach the same look.
I can not understand why Adobe is just ignoring it. Guess it's only the minority that is ballsy enough to verbalize it.
I have lots of peers who does not complain to the service provider but suffer in silence and natter among each other. Some have ported.
I stuck with LR due to the black and clarity controls back then when it use to be slow as well. Now it is fast but alas the clarity change.
We have more control in a digital darkroom now and it should not be compared to wet processes in my viewpoint. If we improved and discovered wet processes to improve clarity we would have used it.

Adobe please amend clarity to allow ample control to simulate previous results too.

46 Messages

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562 Points

7 years ago

I still share your frustration, but we seem to be in a small vocal minority. I treat that slider as having a very narrow range, say 0-10 although the ends are much farther that that. The proponents argue that one should not go beyond the mid point anyway, then why provide that range? Even then I use it less frequently than the former clarity. The situation does not seem any different in LR 5. I also object to the same clarity setting, say +5, working differently on two images since it has "content aware smarts". Needless to say, these changes make me push more photographs to Photoshop.

Don't hold your breath for Adobe to change it back, or even provide a reasonably explanation for the switch. You will hear from other users, some of whom were apparently a part of the beta testing. Adobe seem to prefer to watch the battle of the opinions without engaging in the conversation. I say missed opportunity for them.

4.5K Messages

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76.3K Points

7 years ago

I think new clarity blows old clarity away some of the time, but not all of the time.

In cases when it doesn't, I tend to use local -clarity (and stuff), to dial it down in some spots, and/or use +contrast (and stuff) locally to closer simulate old clarity.

Worth noting:

* New clarity loves +blacks.
* New clarity may need some boosted saturation to go with it.

Don't get me wrong - I agree it would be nice to have both. But, we don't, so....

Cheers,
Rob

46 Messages

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562 Points

7 years ago

Oh-oh! Here we go again!! ;-)

^ The main problem with the new and improved clarity is that its function is not clearly defined
^ When using in images with large clean sky it darkens the sky for no reason at all
* Of course this applies to any large smooth surface
* It seems to make "relative" adjustments (content aware?) rather than absolute
* Which makes it unsuitable to include in presets

We have reiterated that we agreed to disagree ;-)

Cemal

4.5K Messages

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76.3K Points

Fair enough - if we've already covered it, I'm willing to let it rest..

130 Messages

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2K Points

7 years ago

I find PV2012 Basic Tone controls add micro-contrast all by themselves. With portraits I often need to dial in a small amount of negative Clarity to soften facial features. PV2012 negative Clarity behaves identical to PV2010, but I never needed to use it with PV2010.

It's also obvious that PV2012's image-adaptive Tone controls "interact" with the Clarity control. This would explain why some images and image areas are affected differently by PV2012's Clarity control. What's interesting is that I find PV2012 Clarity settings of 50 and higher works well with scans of old faded B&W prints, but for 99% of my camera image processing I set Clarity at no more than 20. To me this is a pretty clear indication that the PV2012 Clarity control is optimized for making "large" tonal changes to the image–not "fine" micro-contrast adjustments.

One thing you can do to overcome this behavior is to dial-in Clarity before making any other adjustments to the image. This prevents the need to go back and readjust settings affected by the Clarity control's interaction. Obviously you'll need to gain experience in determining the proper Clarity setting to use based on the initial default image view, but that shouldn't be too difficult.

4.5K Messages

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76.3K Points

Remember George's mountain moon (from Seattle)? I used +100 global clarity with another dose of +100 local in some spots (PV2012). Took a barely seeable photo and "CSI'd" it into a nice photo. Old clarity couldn't even come close to doing that. - probably like your old faded bw scans...

But if you add new clarity to an interior shot with a black and white checkered floor, it's gonna look like he||... (solution: use contrast instead of clarity to enhance checkerboards, and/or learn to paint in compensation).

Bottom line - ya gotta learn to use it where/how/when it works best (and don't use too much) and not use it if it's not working.

It's true that in some ways new clarity has a "lighter" touch (won't over-emphasize already high-contrast edges), and in some ways a "heavier" hand (can really dig into shadows for example).

So part of the deal is getting used to the difference - you won't get the same look at the rim of a dark mountain against a bright sky in PV2012 as PV2010 (with pumped clarity) - for better and/or for worse..

New clarity is a lot like Topaz adjust and/or Topaz detail, which for a while I used on almost every photo as part of my standard workflow - I haven't even used it once since PV2012.

Old clarity is more like high-radius high-pass sharpening..

Cheers,
Rob