DISCOVER LIGHTROOM’S GREAT NEW EDITING TOOLS
Amongst the latest updates to the Light room family of apps are a few stand-out features. For many photographers the headline feature will be the new Texture control. Found within the Basic Panel alongside the Clarity slider, Texture works in a similar way to its detail-enhancing neighbour. But the results are gentler, making it ideal for accentuating details like skin and hair. There is a new Help tool in Light room and a new Home Screen in Light room for devices. Another notable inclusion in Light room Classic is the Flat-Field Correction tool, which allows you to correct colour drifting and vignetting by referencing a calibration frame taken of a neutral surface using the same camera/lens combo as your other shots. Let’s explore the key features.
Texture and frequency
Most images will display areas of high, mid and low range frequencies. High-frequency areas will be those with lots of detail and contrast while low frequencies will be smooth areas, blocks of colour or out-of-focus parts. Some tools are designed to target certain frequencies. Sharpening, for example, works on high-frequency details, while clarity affects a wider range of frequencies including some high and some low. The new Texture command is more tightly confined to mid-frequency details. Subtler than Clarity, but heavier than sharpening, it’s great for enhancing details like skin.
By targeting mid-range frequencies, Texture can be very useful for sharpening certain kinds of details in landscapes and macro shots. Because it doesn’t affect the highest frequencies it won’t amplify noise which can often happen unintentionally when sharpening an image. By ignoring higher frequencies, Texture can bypass noise and enhance broader details underneath. Put simply, you can crispen details without making the image more noisy. As well as leaving noise untouched, Texture ignores low-frequency details, making it good for macro shots with lots of low-frequency blurred areas.
Skin smoothing with Texture
As the name suggests, the new Texture slider in Light room is useful for pulling detail out of surfaces. However, it was originally conceived as a tool for smoothing out fine details, a task at which it’s equally adept. Set to a negative value, it de-emphasises mid-frequency details resulting in a subtle smoothing effect that is especially useful for skin. Just as the Texture control doesn’t emphasise image noise, it also leaves the fine detail in skin unaffected. This means that you don’t get the horrid, plastic-looking skin that some skin-smoothing techniques can cause. Instead you’re able to soften the skin while still retaining that all-important detail in the pores. You can apply negative Texture universally to your portrait but it’s usually more successful as a skin smoother when combined with either the Adjustment Brush or Radial Filter. Here I’ve dragged a circular radial filter over the face lowered Texture, then used the brush to erase the eyes and lips from the effect. Of course, you could also use the command in combination with Range Masking, then sample the skin colours to zero in on them.
As well as being useful for skin smoothing the texture command can also be highly effective for enhancing hair in your portraits, or fur in animal photos.