Adobe Lightroom 2 Clarity & Sharpening

For years I’ve used Photoshop or Photoshop Elements to “finish” my images for online presentation. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with Adobe’s Lightroom 2 “Develop” module to see just how much finishing could be done here instead of in Photoshop or Elements. I’ve been very pleased (and sometimes amazed) at just how simple and easy it is to do ALL your post-capture processing in Lightroom 2.

A Quiet Sunday Afternoon
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon 40D , 17-40mm f/4 L at 27mm, f/5.0, 1/400th of a second at ISO 100 on SanDisk Digital Film.

Take this image for example. A few weeks ago I was walking around Sugar Land’s new “Town Center” area on a quiet Sunday afternoon. I took a few shots of this tree-lined side street because the contrast between the muted red of the bricks, the brown and beige of the office building and the vibrant green of the leaves really struck me as peaceful and serene.

I really wanted to capture the texture of the bricks, leaves and wood in as much detail as possible but my monopod and tripod were sitting in the trunk of my car a half mile away. I knew that getting a tack-sharp image, hand-held without an “IS” lens, was going to be difficult but I gave it my best shot.

When I returned home and loaded these images into Lightroom I wasn’t surprised to see that many of the images were a little “soft” due to camera shake. I knew my best bet was to try out the new “Clarity” and “Sharpening” sliders that Matt Kloskowski talked about in his online training class at Kelby Training.

Since these images were for my blog, I wasn’t really worried about creating extra noise. So I really cranked up the “Clarity” and the Sharpening “Amount” sliders as shown above. To get a better idea of how well this worked, click on my image to see a larger version which really shows what Lightroom 2 can do! The level of detail is incredible.

The best thing is, all this post-capture work took about 3 minutes to complete. I don’t know about you but for me this really beats having to export the image to Photoshop, create extra layers for sharpening and then import the final image back into Lightroom.