Another improvement offered by Process 2012 in Lightroom 4 is the more pronounced impact that positive Clarity control changes now have on local contrast. This will show up especially in shots like this one, where there is water or other fine details that contain both bright and dark tones within a small area.
For Lightroom 4, you can even create a “faux HDR look” with a more pronounced Clarity boost, but for this image we’ll stop somewhere short of that to maintain more realism. Jumping back to the Basic panel and sliding the Clarity value out to about +35 really makes the water details “pop” without drastically altering the other points of contrast we have created with the prior edits (Figure 9).
Figure 9: The enhanced Clarity control in Lightroom 4 allows you to create more obvious points of localized contrast or even faux HDR effects.
Final steps include boosting the Vibrance and Saturation modest amounts to accentuate the color changes that were made (Figure 10).
Figure 10: Add the finishing touches to your primary raw edits with careful use of Vibrance and Saturation, to accentuate the other changes made.
Hopefully this article has demonstrated how powerful the new Basic panel and Curves panel in Lightroom 4 are, and how easy it is to recover lost details and accurately enhance the overall exposure contrast, and even per channel color contrast! For the second article in this series I’ll show you how substantial improvements to the Adjustments Brush (for localized edits) can further enhance photo’s edited with Lightroom 4.