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How to modify local contrast of a photo in Lightroom 4? The only thing comes into my mind is to use the brush tool. Is there any other way to achieve this or a plug-in to let me modify the local contrast of part of the image?

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Please note that "local contrast" usually means contrast on small spatial scales (e.g. edges), not "contrast in a particular region of the image". Clarity is basically a "local contrast" tool. The adjustment brush can be used to adjust contrast in a region. Examples of local contrast: cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/local-contrast-enhancement.htm –  coneslayer Apr 11 '12 at 18:07
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The brush tool does exactly what you're after. Could you explain more clearly why you want to avoid using it? Using a plug-in to do something LR already does natively seems completely unnecessary to me. –  Mark Whitaker Apr 11 '12 at 20:46
    
@MarkWhitaker Usually software will apply algorithms to adjust contrast locally not globally. Although the image may look unrealistic, I just have the curiosity to try it out. I do use the brush to edit contrast in some areas in the image but I wanted to try something else. –  akram Apr 11 '12 at 21:08
    
I'm still not clear on WHY you want to try something else? Can you give details of a situation where you feel Lightroom isn't delivering what you need? I'm not trying to argue with you, just helping clarify your question so you get more useful answers. –  Mark Whitaker Apr 11 '12 at 21:36
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Put another way: my recommendation would always be to use the local adjustment brush in Lightroom. Without clearer information in your question I can't understand why that's not the answer you want. –  Mark Whitaker Apr 11 '12 at 21:37
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2 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I'm not a Lightroom user (often), so I'm not overly familiar with what's available natively, but you might find a plug-in like Topaz Adjust 5 to be just about the right size and shape of ticket. It works from within both Lightroom and Photoshop (and any PS plug-in compatible editor, as well as a standalone with a free lightweight host), and offers both global and local adjustments. The ability to paint effects in and out is, I think, a deliberate nod to the environments that won't allow you to play with layers in the host program.

(No affiliation—I'm even deliberately avoiding the affiliate program—just a very satisfied user.)

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+1 like the tool. Looks like it does more than local contrast adjusting. Thanks –  akram Apr 11 '12 at 18:59
    
Why use a third-party program from LR, which will require you to create a copy of the image, when LR lets you do it all in one place using the original file? –  Mark Whitaker Apr 11 '12 at 20:42
    
@MarkWhitaker - hmmm... perhaps because the third-party program will let you do things that Lightroom alone cannot? –  user2719 Apr 11 '12 at 21:03
    
Another tool that does a fantastic job is the Tonal Contrast filter in Nik's Color Efex bundle. An expensive plugin, but allows you to separately adjust contrast in shadow, mid-tones and highlights, and also apply local changes using "control points". –  MikeW Apr 11 '12 at 22:00
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Clarity Adds depth to an image by increasing local contrast

From Adobe's site.

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I think the question concerns the local adjustment of contrast, not "local contrast" as the term is used in a technical sense. I tried to get clarification with my comment above, but I'm still unclear as to the goal and the shortcomings of the built-in tools. –  coneslayer Apr 11 '12 at 22:05
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