Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Presence Sliders

This week we review the last of the sections in the "Basic Panel" in Adobe Lightroom 3 - the Presence sliders.  If you missed the previous postings around getting up and running with Lightroom, you may want to take a moment and go back to review them.  If you don't own Lightroom, you can download a free 30 day trial from Adobe's website.

According to Scott Kelby's book, "The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book for Digital Photographers", the Presence sliders are all about "punch".  They give your image that extra boost to help make them to become their best by impacting the midtone areas of the image.  While there are 3 sliders, you will generally only be concerned with the first 2 - Clarity and Vibrance.
  • Clarity - Clarity is all about adding addition contrast or sharpness to the midtone colors within your image.  As most of my photography focuses on landscapes and nature, I like to push this slider to the right for more contrast.  If you're more into portrait photography, you'll probably not use this slider as much as sharp, contrasty skin tones probably aren't the best idea.  Regardless, it helps to zoom in on an area at 100% before using this slider and then comparing the before/after views to check your changes.
  • Vibrance - Vibrance will take those dull colors and boost them into a more attractive, vibrant color space to help them "pop".  As a landscape photographer, this is one of my favorite sliders.  Vibrance does try to preserve skin tones so portrait photographers shouldn't shy away.
  • Saturation - This slider is similiar to the Vibrance slider in that it increases the saturation of colors within an image.  The difference is that its not targeting the dull colors within the image, but rather it amps up ALL of the colors in the photo.  If you find yourself in situations where this works, by all means us the Saturation slider.  I, however, tend to work with Vibrance slider and the HSL (Hue, Saturation, Luminance) controls along with the Targeted Adjustment Tool (TAT) to impact just particular areas of the image.  More on those tools in future posts.
Again, there is no magic formula as to how far to push these sliders.  It really is a matter of personal taste.  Just be sure to watch for adverse effects to your image if you push the sliders too far.  Depending on the image, pushing clarity or vibrance too far can introduce "halos" or "fringe" areas within the picture that may or may not be able to be corrected with some of the settings in the "Lens Corrections" panel.

That's all for this week.  Take some time to experiment with adjusting the Clarity and Vibrance in your images and see how much of a difference it can make to your photos.  Next week we'll review using the Tone Curve to add "controlled" contrast to your images.

Until next time, keep click'n.


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