“Clarity” in Photoshop

You know that awesome Clarity adjustment in Camera Raw? It is used to increase the midtone contrast in the image. Unlike the Contrast slider, Clarity does not make the highlights brighter and shadows darker (that’s what contrast means) uniformly. It is cleverer than that.

Take a look at these two images. The one at the top is the original photograph, and the one at the bottom is the same photograph with only the Clarity slider set to +100

But that’s in Camera Raw, how do you do that in Photoshop? There is not an adjustment there called “Clarity”!

This hidden gem is under Image -> Adjustments -> Shadows/Highlights…

When you select this adjustment, the first thing it will try to do is to brighten the shadows by 35%. Take the first “Amount” slider all the way down to 0 and make your way down that list. Towards the bottom of it, you will see an option called “Midtone Contrast”. This will give you results, very similar to Camera Raw’s Clarity. If you don’t want Photoshop to boost the saturation up during this process, make sure you decrease the “Color Correction” amount!

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