Quick and Easy Sharpening Tips in Lightroom

Quick Sharpening Tips in Lightroom

Creating sharp images is essential in photography because it delights your viewers and makes you look like a competent artist. While it’s not always easy to take sharp pictures on your own, luckily for you, Lightroom can come to the rescue with its slew of high-quality sharpening tools.

Warning: Don’t think Lightroom can work miracles for your shots, though. If the image suffers from camera shake or other shooting errors, then these tips can’t fix your fundamental technique issues. However, if your image is at least adequately sharp enough, Lightroom will help!

Sharpen your images with the Masking, Detail, Amount and Radius sliders. Learn all the basic sharpening tips in Lightroom with this article. Special thanks to Vine Alexandre for the cover image.

Basic Sharpening Tips in Lightroom

Masking Slider

Access this slider from the Detail panel. Pushing the slider to the left will sharpen the entire picture; pushing it to the far right will mask everything but the picture’s edges. This makes it perfect for edge adjustment.

Take care to press and hold down the ALT/OPTION key instead of moving the slider with your mouse cursor. Using the key is the only way to actually see where the masking effect happens. The blackened out areas will be masked, but the white parts will be sharpened.

Amount Slider

At the top of the Sharpening section, the Amount slider controls the degree of overall sharpening in the program. Slide it to the left to reduce the overall sharpening; slide it to the right to increase how sharp your images will be.

When playing around with this slider, be sure not to set it too sharply and definitely not all the way to the right. When your pictures are too sharp, they’ll look unnatural, which defeats the purpose of using Lightroom to improve your shots!

Radius Slider

This slider determines how far away from each pixel’s center you want the sharpening effect to occur. For example, for a lighter feel to your shots, choose a smaller radius, but for a harder-edge feel, pick a larger radius.

Applying this to photography, generally smaller radii work well with portraiture while larger radii are better for landscape and architecture images, where you want more definition in your edges.

Detail Slider

Make the finer textures of your images come alive with this slider. In technical terms, it adjusts how your high frequency data’s displayed in images. You’ll get more image textures when you push the slider farther to the right; the opposite happens when you push the slider to the left.

Expect an almost grungy appearance in pictures when your textures are severe. To avoid this extreme effect, just zoom into the image at a ratio of 1:1 to allow yourself to see the changes occurring exactly as and how they’re occurring.

More with LR Brushes

Outside of the various sliders available in the Detail section, you can also use brushes to adjust a portrait and sharpen certain features. Read more about creating custom Lightroom Brushes here.

View all Lightroom Brushes here →

Read next: Skin Retouching Techniques for Editing Portraits in Adobe Lightroom

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