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New Texture Tool in Lightroom Enhances Without Destroying Details.

By Chris Malinao

Adobe released this week a new tool in Lightroom that can smooth out or add texture in photos without obliterating details or adding noise. Think of it as careful Clarity and Sharpening when you boost texture in landscapes, or thoughtful Noise Reduction when you smooth out details in a portrait.

The new tool started life as Smoothing slider inside Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw, then evolved as the Texture slider as development progressed. It came about as a request from photographers for a way to get high-quality skin smoothing. Pulling it to the right (positive texture) is good for landscape photos. Pulling it to the left (negative texture) is good for portraits.

In the example in Fig.-1, we boosted details in the flowers and leaves without adding too much noise by pulling the Texture slider to the right (+64); using only Clarity and Sharpening may have an awful result. The Texture tool may also be used to smooth out skin in portraits without softening it too much, by pulling the slider to the left; noise reduction will only smooth it out like plastic.

The magic is where the tool targets the image. Instead of targeting just the high frequency areas, where dark pixels meet light pixels, the Texture tool targets the mid-frequencies, it works in the fuzzy areas, and delivers a more pleasing edit.

This does not mean you can't use the Clarity slider in conjunction with the Texture slider, they are two distinct tools. If you feel like you still need to use clarity, then go ahead and use it. Remember, Clarity, whether positive or negative, is a stronger control; Texture is more subtle. Texture can be used as global effect--it happens to the whole frame--or local edit by assigning it to the Adjustment Brush.

The Texture tool is a major update by Adobe since they released the exciting Dehaze slider in 2015. Four years later, we get this useful tool which is also available with the latest release of Adobe Camera Raw (Version 11.3). To get the new Texture tool, simply download the latest versions of Lightroom and Photoshop, and it's there.

As with most other tools in Lightroom, it is important to experiment. Lightroom edits after all are non-destructive, you can always go back to where you want. Experiment with the Texture slider, make subtle adjustments, make atrocious over-the-top-edits just to see how far the tool goes, then scale back to where the image becomes most pleasing. Enjoy!

[Chris Malinao teaches Lightroom as workflow software to photography students at the FPPF (Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation). The FPPF is a non-profit organization that offers year-round workshops in Comprehensive Digital Photography, Lighting Essentials, Wedding Photography, Strobist Lighting, Food Photography, Photoshop, Lightroom, and other specialty photography workshops. For details of FPPF workshops, please visit]


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Title Annotation:Picture Perfect
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:May 21, 2019
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