Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Lightroom Detail Pane

We continue our Lightroom journey this week with the Detail Pane.  Next to the Basic Panel, the Detail Pane is probably my second favorite in terms of what you can accomplish here.

In this post we'll cover the Sharpening sliders and come back next week to learn about the magic of Noise Reduction.  Here is an overview of the Sharpening controls:
  • Preview Window - At the top of the Detail Pane is the preview window.  You can use this area to zoom in on a particular area of your photo to see the results of your sharpening.  Right-clicking on the preview window will give you the option to set your zoom level to either 1:1 or 2:1.  I prefer to get in closer with the 2:1 setting.  The small square target icon in the upper right side of the preview window allows you to quickly select an area of your image for viewing within the preview window.  Simply click the icon and then click the area of your image to see it within the preview.  If sharpening a wildlife image, the "eye" is a good place to focus on for sharpening.
  • Amount - As you might guess, the amount slider determines the level of sharpening you apply as you slide it to the left or right.  As you make adjustments, keep your eye on the preview window to see the results.  I usually push the slider until I start to introduce visible grain and then back off just a little bit.
  • Radius - The radius setting determines how far out (in pixels) from the edge of an area will be sharpened.  Honestly, I don't ever remember changing this from it's default value of 1.0.
  • Detail - One side effect of sharpening an image is that you can introduce halos into your photo.  If you happen to notice the halo effect as you increase the sharpening amount, you can try to move the detail slider further to the left to compensate.  For images with sharply defined edges which are less likely to "halo", you can push the detail slider further to the right to further increase the sharpening effect.
  • Masking - This is one of my favorites.  When you sharpen an image by moving the amount slider, you are in effect sharpening the entire image.  That's not always a good thing.  If you'd like more control of exactly what gets sharpened, hold down your Alt key and slide the Masking slider to the right.  As you do so, you'll notice a negative of your image on the screen.  The further you drag the masking slider to the right, you'll notice parts of your image will turn completely black.  Those areas are now masked out and will NOT be impacted by the application of more sharpening.  It therefore makes sense to start with this slider before applying your sharpening.
Remember, you can use the "light switch" button at the top left of the Detail Pane turn your adjustmens on/off in order to better see the results of your adjustments.  It also helps to show a Before/After (press "Y") view at 100% magnification in the main window to view your results.

That's all for this week.  Next week we'll review the magic of Noise Reduction.

Until next time, keep click'n.


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