Using targeted adjustments in Lightroom for equine and wildlife photography

 In Post-Processing

Here’s a quick tip for you to make your equine and wildlife images even more eye-catching: When editing your RAW files, use targeted rather than global adjustments. Targeted adjustments are applied only to specific areas of an image and give you incredible control when you post-process.

Skip the Basics panel for targeted adjustments

For wildlife or equine images, don’t use the Clarity slider in the Basics panel.

We’re going to use the Clarity slider in the Basics panel as an example today. Actually, we’re going to be a little mean to the Clarity slider because in general, for wildlife and equine images, I’m going to recommend that you don’t use this slider.

If you have a beautiful blurred or creamy background, you don’t want to increase Clarity there because Clarity adds sharp texture. Since you probably chose a very specific aperture to get that creamy, blurred background, pushing the Clarity slider to 55 and applying it to the whole image is counter productive. Too much Clarity adds “crunchiness” to the soft, out-of-focus areas.

The Radial Filter, Brush Tool and Graduated Filter

Instead, apply Clarity to key areas of your image using the Radial Filter, Brush Tool or Graduated Filter.

In Lightroom, rather than using the Clarity slider in the Basics panel to affect the entire image, increase the level of Clarity in only one key area by using the Radial Filter, Brush Tool or Graduated Filter. Those three tools are the workhorses for making targeted adjustments.

Compare this version to the lead image in this article. Clarity was adjusted globally in this version. It gets a little crunchy-looking and your eye has nowhere to “rest” since every detail is accentuated.

Compare with versus without targeted adjustments

Some areas of your image really do benefit from increased Clarity so it’s important to learn how to make those specific adjustments. Eyes and faces are typically sharply in focus in equine and wildlife images and enhancing that sharpness with a targeted Clarity adjustment improves your overall image.

In the left image I made no adjustments. In the right, I used the Radial Filter to add 25 Clarity and 25 Contrast. See the difference it makes in these two images when a small, targeted adjustment is made?

Saturation, contrast, sharpness and exposure

In this article I’m using Clarity as an example, but you can do many types of targeted adjustments. Depending on your image, you might make minute adjustments to Clarity, Saturation, Contrast, Sharpness or even Exposure, all in different areas of your image.

Give this quick tip a try and then let me know how it goes in the Comments.

If you want to learn more about using this type of adjustment effectively in your equine and wildlife images, sign up for my classes at the Out of Chicago Summer Conference.

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