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Adobe Lightroom Classic Clarity, Vibrance, Saturation

About Lightroom Clarity, Vibrance, Saturation

Product:  Adobe Lightroom Classic  |   Subject: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic

In this exercise, we will learn about Adobe Lightroom Classic. 

Clarity, Vibrance, Saturation

In this section, I will share how you can adjust the clarity, vibrance, and saturation to make adjustments to your images' tonal values. 


Now, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom calls this the presence subsection. To me, these three bring about the presence of an image. And I find that these three works well, especially when you're working with portraits. Or it could be that since I spend a lot of time with portraits, I kind of tend to favor these kinds of adjustments. Clarity is similar to contrast. It creates some sort of localized contrast. The best way to work with clarity is to zoom in to the image. Now, anytime you're making these adjustments, consider taking a look at the histogram as well so that you can have an idea of how making adjustments to these sliders adjust all of the values in the histogram. Once again, to recap, clearly localized contrast adjustment is made by adjusting the sliders. The best way to do this is to zoom into the photo. So I'm just going to zoom in into the area around his beard. 

You can see from this image that there's not much to distinguish his beard from the rest of the skin, it kind of blends in. This is where when we increase the clarity, we're creating a localized contrast. I'll show you what I mean. So I'm just going to increase the clarity by moving the slider the slightly to the right, and you can see the image becoming sharper and sharper. 

You can see the kind of contrast between the facial hair and his skin. So it becomes a little bit more defined. What this localized contrast has done is it sort of darkened the image. Now I'm going to show you the before and the after by using the backslash key as the keyboard shortcut. So this is the before view. 

As you can see, there wasn't much in terms of the contrast. Then here's the after. 

What we've done is we've adjusted the localized contrast, and you can see his facial hair become more defined. 

 Now the next slider is vibrance. Vibrance and saturation are similar in that they increase the pixels' intensity, the vividness of the image. But what vibrance does versus saturation is it works on a narrow range, and it tries to do its best not to adjust the face tones or skin tones. I'll show you what I mean. First of all, I'm going to adjust the saturation, and you'll notice how all of the intensity, the vividness increases by a significant amount. I want you to pay particular attention to the skin tones. As I adjust the saturation, you can see that the skin tones become yellower and more orangey. They just become intense, and this is not a good look. 

On the other hand, if we decrease the saturation by minus 100, what we're doing is we're turning this into a monochromatic image. It has made the image into a black and white image. Now you can see all the channels have been adjusted, and there's only one monochromatic look. 

That was the saturation. Now let's look at vibrance in the minus 100 and the plus 100. Once again, I invite you to take a look at the skin tones just to see the kind of adjustments that happens. I'm going to adjust the vibrance to plus 100, and you will notice that the intensity of the pixels, the vividness go up a lot, yet the skin tones don't increase as much as they did in saturation. 

I find vibrance helpful to work with it, especially if you're working with many portrait photos or a lot of skin tones that you want to work with, and you don't want to boost their intensity. Clarity, vibrance, and saturation all work together to create an impact. For me, I use this a lot when I'm working with skin tones when I'm working with portrait photography to keep my adjustments pleasing to the client and me. 

Another example I want to work with the image below is how clarity, vibrance, and saturation will affect it. You can also find the image in your portraits folder. 

First of all, I'm going to work with the clarity slider, and I'm going to adjust it to the left and reduce the clarity. Once again, clarity is about localized contrast. And as I move the clarity slider to the left, you'll notice all of the edges between her hair and the background between her cheek line and then the rest of the hair and everything. They're all sort of going to blend in together, and it's going to give you a particular look. As you can see, the clarity is working with this local contrast, and all of the edges sort of blend in together and give it a certain look.

 Next, I will adjust the clarity to the right, that you can contrast this with this view. As I move the slider to the right, you'll notice all of the lines, all of the contrast becoming sharper and more defined, until we get this very hard Look, a very strong look that has a certain kind of impact on the viewer. 

This is not a look that I would recommend for portraits where we want a beauty or fashion type of look and image. Because this emphasizes all of the lines. You'll notice if I zoom into her face, it's very easy to see the demarcation between all the folds in her eyes, the slight kind of contrast in the lines of her face, around her mouth and lips. 

This is one sort of look in contrast, obviously with the minus 100 on the clarity slider. But once again, the invitation is to work with the clarity slide and adjusted it in a way that makes the image have some sort of impact or some sort of meaning for you or your client, or whoever you wish to view this image. 

I have reset the clarity settings. Now I'm going to work with the vibrance, and I'm going to adjust it to the left and right so that you can see how the skin tones are mainly kept safe. And yet, all of the rest of the background will be adjusted one way or another. Vibrance is about the vividness of each of the pixels. And I've adjusted the vibrance to minus 100 now, but you will still notice that it maintains some skin tone here. Let me zoom in here, and I'll show you what I mean. 

You'll notice that her lip area here still has slight pinches of pink. And it's okay for the most part. This is kind of an artistic look. I like this look because it's subdued and a muted image and gives a certain kind of impact to the viewer. Now let me adjust the vibrance slider to the right to see what is going to happen. As I continue to move the slider to the right, keep an eye out for her skin tones. And you'll notice that how they mostly stay the same. And yet, the intensity of the background or hat, or eyes or hair sort of intensifies. Now, this is the maximum intensity of the vibrant slider on this image. 

You will see the skin tones are kind of true for the most part in some areas that are a little bit orange. But yet, you know her skin tones for the lips, and our eyes and just underneath the eyes are mostly the same. So this once again gives a certain kind of look a certain kind of impact that it will have on your viewer. 

Finally, we're going to work the saturation slider and move it to the left. I'm going to make this a monochromatic image. And that is one kind of look. 

If I move it to the right, you'll notice that the image's intensity will increase throughout the image. It's going to affect also the skin tones as well. But we'll see how it just becomes very unpleasant as I move it, at least for this image.


So that's it for clarity, vibrance, and saturation. 

Just to quickly recap, clarity is for localized contrast. What clarity does is it allows that image to have a little bit more punch. That is, it's going to stick out, it's going to jump out, and it's going to show up in a little bit more presence in the final image. Vibrance and saturation are similar. The only difference is that vibrance tries to work with a narrow range of tonal values. It will try to ensure the vividness of the skin tones is kept to a minimum. That is, there won't be too much adjustment in skin tones.

On the other hand, saturation increases the intensity and vividness of the pixels through the image. It is not going to take into account skin tones or anything like that. It's just going to increase the intensity of those pixels of the the entire image. So I hope this has been helpful, and if you do have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out. 



  1. "Basic" Adjustments – Summary


In this section, I will spend a few minutes wrapping up the learning that we engaged in these last few sections. In this section, we did work with the basic adjustment panel in the develop module. We covered things such as white balance, tone, and then, of course, presence. We learned that Adobe Photoshop Lightroom has a lot of auto settings that you can take advantage of. But when we work with the auto settings, for example, in the white balance, it might not be what we're looking for. So, in that case, what we're going to do is we're going to use the sliders to adjust the image to our taste. If you recall, white balance was about the overall lighting conditions under which the image was taken. You can adjust that using the temperature setting; you can either make it a little bit cooler or make it a little bit warmer, depending on your taste. 

Another setting that you can adjust is the tint setting, which either shifts the image toward a green tint or more of a magenta tint. The next subsection we worked with was the tone subsection. Once again, there is an auto function that you can use to tell Lightroom to make the adjustments for you automatically. When you click on the auto function, you see that it adjusts the exposure, contrast, whites, and blacks. Now, this may or may not be what you want. In that case, you can use the sliders to adjust it however you want. 

The exposure and contrast sliders affect all of the pixels throughout the entire image. Whites and Blacks work on the highlight clippings and the shadow clippings to not lose detail and that you don't blow out your image. The highlights and shadows slider adjusts the brightness of the image's brighter areas and the darker areas of the image, and these are more fine-tuned adjustments than you would get with the exposure slider. Then finally, we covered the presence. Presence is about the kind of impact that an image can have on the viewer. And to me, it makes the image sort of pop out. Clarity is similar to contrast, except it doesn't affect the entire image. It's more of a localized look. And it can be dramatic, or it can be subtle, depending on how you do it. When you adjust the contrast slider left and right, you will notice that it makes it throughout the whole image. You'll notice the histogram changing and dancing differently. Clarity, on the other hand, will make localized adjustments to the certain areas that are demarcations in the image. And when you move it left and right, it will blend in with the rest of the background, or it'll pop out from the background. Once again, the histogram changes are different from how the histogram changes when you're using the contrast slider. 

Vibrance and saturation are similar in that they affect the vividness or the intensity of the pixels' color. The saturation slider adjusts the intensity of the pixels throughout the image, and you can have a stronger, more dramatic effect. When you slide it to the left, it becomes monochromatic. Vibrance, on the other hand, increases or decreases the intensity of the pixels while maintaining the flesh tones. It has less of a dramatic effect than the saturation to sliding into the left makes it more monochromatic, yet it preserves some color that works within the skin tone channels. If you move it to the right, it intensifies the vividness of the rest of the image while adjusting and keeping the skin tones within a narrow range of adjustment.

 I would like to point out that when you're working with all of the sliders in the Basic panel, you're going to make adjustments to several of these sliders. That is to say; you don't make one adjustment all by itself and leave it as that you're going to make adjustments and tweak certain things to create the image that you want. And you will find that as you develop and work with your photos as you tweak your artistic process, you're going to use a whole bunch of sliders. You're going to use a whole bunch of different sections. Within these panels, you're going to make a series of adjustments that work well together, or a certain look for a certain image or a certain series of images. This is the beauty of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom because you can combine a series of these sliders and not just from the basic panel but the rest of the other panels, and combine them in such a way to create your own presets to create your looks to create your artistic stamp of beauty. And once again, this is an entirely subjective process that just makes sense for you. 

The invitation, of course, is to continue to work with all the sliders to continue to work within the develop module to continue to work with your photos with your images and tweak them adjust them and continue to tweak them and adjust them until you become satisfied with the final product. The best part to me is this learning process because I found that over the years, I keep going back to my images over and over again and tweaking them in one way, tweaking them differently, making certain adjustments in one way, and so on, that I look at my photos, each time with a renewed sense of purpose with a renewed sense of impact, and with a renewed sense of excitement. And each time I do this, the emotional impact these images have on my changes. That's what makes photography; that's what makes working with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom just the joy, and that's what I want to share with you here in this course. 

So I hope this section has helped summarize all of the adjustments you can make in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom using the basic panel. Once again, if you do have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out. 

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