Lightroom sharpening

How to use creative sharpening in Lightroom

04 Sharpness and Clarity

Lightroom creative sharpening

The blurred background has helped make this vehicle stand out, but I’m going to take it one step further by increasing the apparent sharpness and definition of the vehicle itself.

I’ve done this with a third adjustment (circled) which is centred on the grille and covers the front of the car and much of the left edge. Over on the right you’ll see I’ve increased the Sharpness value for this adjustment, but I’ve also pushed the Clarity right up to maximum. Clarity is a lot like sharpness, but on a much broader scale. Here, it makes the details on the vehicle really leap out.

05 Auto Mask pros and cons

Lightroom creative sharpening

And here’s the mask for that last adjustment. I used the Auto Mask option and you can see some of the advantages and disadvantages. It’s kept the sharpness/clarity adjustment to the car, but where I’ve painted over the grass verge on the left (to extend the apparent plane of focus in a more realistic way), it’s only picked up on some of the areas because others were to different in tone. When you use Auto Mask, you sometimes have to disable it and go back to fill in areas that it missed.

06 The finished image

Lightroom creative sharpening

Creative sharpening is generally used for subtle enhancements – it’s at the opposite end of the scale to wild tilt-shift effects. I’ve used it here to make the vehicle stand out from its environment while still clearly being part of it – I was going for the sort of look you get from medium-large format cameras, which have great clarity and limited depth of field.

Perhaps the main point is, though, that by doing this in Lightroom you’re creating a non-destructive effect which you can go back and rework at any time.

See also

More Lightroom tutorials

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