Clarity in Photoshop


Today’s Question: I am working with architectural abstractions doing most of the work in Photoshop CC. I often have to take the files back into Lightroom to use the clarity feature to gain mid-tone contrast. Is there an approach in Photoshop that would achieve the same results?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can actually access the Clarity adjustment in Photoshop by applying the Camera Raw filter to any image layer in Photoshop.

More Detail: As many photographers are aware, Adobe Camera Raw includes all of the same adjustments found in the Develop module in Lightroom. While Camera Raw was originally intended for processing proprietary raw captures, it can also be used for other image file formats, and is also available as a filter in Photoshop CC.

Since the Clarity adjustment is included in Camera Raw, that also means you can access the Clarity adjustment by simply applying the Camera Raw filter to any image.

To get started you may want to create a duplicate of your Background image layer, by selecting that layer on the Layers panel and then choosing Layer > New > Layer Via Copy from the menu. You could also convert an image layer to a Smart Object so you can apply the Camera Raw filter as a Smart Filter. To do so, select the applicable layer on the Layers panel, and then choose Filter > Convert for Smart Filters from the menu.

To apply Camera Raw adjustments as a filter, go to the menu and choose Filter > Camera Raw Filter. This will bring up the Camera Raw dialog, where you can apply a variety of adjustments (including the Clarity adjustment that is the subject of today’s question).

The availability of Camera Raw as a filter in Photoshop CC makes it much easier to apply some of the adjustments that are unique to Camera Raw at any point in your overall workflow for optimizing your photos.

You can learn more about my preferred workflow for using Camera Raw (including a lesson on using Camera Raw as a filter in Photoshop CC) in my “Optimizing with Adobe Camera Raw” video course available here: