The section of Adobe Camera Raw that includes Texture, Clarity, Dehaze, Vibrance and Saturation can make a big difference to the look of your images. They can also sometimes cause confusion, as some of the sliders appear to perform similar tasks. In this article, we’ll break each down for you so you can better understand their unique functions.
Clarity and Texture
Clarity and Texture are similar but not quite the same. Clarity has been around for a little while in ACR and it adds contrast to your midtones, leaving those tones at the ends of the spectrum untouched.
Texture on the other hand is quite a new addition, added in 2019. Texture is a little like structure in other photo editing applications, it sharpens in one direction and smooths in another. Unlike traditional sharpening features though, it doesn’t target the edges of shapes but instead enhances textures already present and almost mimics a faux HDR effect. When Texture is used on an image with a shallow depth of field for example, it shouldn’t alter your background blur.
Likewise, in the opposite direction, when the Texture slider is used to smooth, you shouldn’t lose those important details.
Vibrance and Saturation
While Saturation affects colours across your whole image, Vibrance targets just your midtone colours. When you increase the Saturation slider, all the colours across your entire tonal range will be affected, from shadows right up to highlights. If you increase it a lot, it’ll make the colours really strong and gaudy, a little like a cartoon.
A good way to see the difference between the two is actually to decrease them. If we take Saturation to -100 you can see it removes all of the colour in the image, making it black and white.
However if Vibrance is decreased to -100 you’re left with an anaemic, muted image, but certainly one that still has some colour present.
To demonstrate Dehaze I’ve switched to a photograph that was taken on quite a misty day with poor visibility.
You can see that by increasing the Dehaze slider it really brings back details that were getting lost towards the background. You can go too far with Dehaze, and it'll suffer the same tradeoff as other sliders, with 'too bright' colours and being too sharp. Dehaze is also handy if you want to make a misty picture look even more hazy, just drag the slider the opposite way to lose some definition from your background and gradually towards the front depending how far you pull the slider.
Less is More
As with all editing tools, less is often more and you’ll likely find the right balance between each of these sliders to get just the right result for your image. Here’s a before and after image with a more considered use of the options I’ve gone through in this article. There aren’t any other edits - not even basic corrections - so you can see what effect just these particular tools can have.
And here's a larger version so you can see the image more clearly and the adjustments that have been made.
If you're using an older version of Adobe Camera Raw, you might find this video helpful.
More Adobe Camera Raw Tutorials
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