What Is Clarity In Photography?

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You want your pictures to be clear and sharp, especially if you do photography for a living. There is no alternative for great photography techniques, however, you would need to add something during the processing of your photo to make sure that they are top-notch. 

You may add sharpening on your images, and you can also add some crispness to make the subjects pop. This is by adding clarity on your photos. 

What Is Clarity In Photography?

Clarity is a technique that photographers use to adjust the brightness, contrast, and color on images in order to produce amazing results. 

The effect of clarity is the same as sharpening. Clarity brings out textures more. Also, digital noise is not that much of an issue because the sharpening increases. 

Person taking a candid photo

Adding Clarity In Your Photos

If you wish to add clarity to your images, you can use the Clarity slider available in Lightroom. You can also use the Adobe Camera Raw’s Clarity’s slider. 

To be able to do that, just look for the Clarity slider in the Lightroom’s Basic panel, under the Develop module. You can easily increase the clarity of the photo by moving the slider seen at the right side of the screen. 

  • Make A Copy

First, create a copy of the photo’s background layer via the Ctrl+J. 

  • Blend Mode

Next, set the blend mode of your picture’s new layer over to Overlay. Your picture won’t look good yet, but that is just the base and you can still make changes. 

  • High Pass Filter

Once you are done, use the High Pass filter by going to the Filters section. Select “Others” then choose “High Pass.”

  • Set The Radius

Before making any adjustments, make sure that the radius is all set. It is like setting the strength of the filter’s effect.

Using High Pass Instead of Clarity Slider

If you are going to use Photoshop, keep in mind that it does not have a Clarity slider, unlike Lightroom. If you wish to add clarity using Photoshop, you can use its High Pass filter instead

The High Pass filter lets you mask and blend tools that are available within the software. It can easily mask the changes that you make, which is more precise. You can use the High Pass filter to make adjustments in specific areas that you want to change in your photo

Adjusting Local Contrast In Photoshop

Another way that you can add clarity to your pictures is to increase its local contrast. The ideal way that you can do this is by using the Curves Adjustment Layer in Photoshop. 

With this feature, your images will be more detailed and much clearer. You can also utilize the feature to make targeted adjustments. You can select an area and increase the contrast within the area. 

  • Select The Area

First, choose the area that you want to adjust. You can adjust the pixels via the Quick Selection tool. 

  • Create Curves

You can also create curves using the Curves Adjustment Layer with the pixels that you chose. When you do it, Photoshop will make a new adjustment layer.

However, it will remove all of the pixels except the ones that you chose. The changes that you create will only show on the pixels that you chose. 

Person adding clarity to her images with Lightroom
  • Increasing The Contrast

You can increase the contrast of the area that you’ve selected by either dragging the endpoints of the curve or by pushing down the line that is seen on the left side and by pulling up the line seen on the right side of the software’s histogram.

You can also use the Levels tool to increase the contrast of the photo if you do not wish to use Curves. 

  • Use The Brush Tool

You can clean it up using the software’s brush tool. If there are a couple of unexpected transitions, you can use a soft brush to correct the mistakes. 

Make sure that you concentrate on the mask and not on the layer. You can also increase the effect or lessen it by using the tool. 

Related Questions

What Makes Sharpness, Contrast And Clarity Different?

Contrast, sharpness, and clarity all have an effect on an image. Each slider on the software does something different on your pictures. 

Contrast uses a wide paintbrush and it adjusts each shade like the mid-tones, highlights, and the shadows. It has an impact on the exposure and detail of a picture. 

Meanwhile, clarity uses a finer paintbrush, changing only the contrast of the photo between mid-tones. As for sharpness, it uses the finest paintbrush and it adjusts the contrast between each pixel. Sharpness can be added if you want your image to have more texture. 

What Makes Clarity Different Than Texture?

Clarity imposes a stronger control compared to texture. Texture has a more subtle effect on an image, while clarity is more precise as it can bring out changes even in larger areas such as tonality. 

Clarity can change your image’s luminance and saturation, which is something that texture can’t do. 


Clarity is a technique that improves the look of your photos. It can help show off the subject’s natural textures and it brings out the mid-tones. 

With clarity, you can make adjustments in your photos to create an output that will surely take your viewer’s breath away. 

Kaitlin Cooper is an active professional wedding and portrait photographer in San Diego, California at Kaitlin Cooper Photography. She is also a contributor to many large publications, including Bridal GuideBustlePixpaWith Joy, and Hello Giggles.