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?

  • 1
    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. 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.
    – K''
    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. 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. Apr 11 '12 at 21:37

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.)

  • +1 like the tool. Looks like it does more than local contrast adjusting. Thanks
    – K''
    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? 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

Clarity Adds depth to an image by increasing local contrast

From Adobe's site.

  • 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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