As many of you have already read or had the opportunity to see directly in Lightroom, Adobe has released an update of its famous post-production software for photographers introducing a new tool called “Texture“. This tool is, in fact, a slider inserted both in the Basic panel for global adjustments and in the Brushes panel for local adjustments (which is good and right!) that allows us to have an additional control to accentuate or reduce the details in our images.
But how does this slider work and how can we use it to our advantage in landscape photography?
Clarity, Texture e Sharpness
The new Texture tool is located in the “Presence” section of the Base panel right next to Clarity. Do you think it’s by chance? Obviously it is not.
All three of these tools work on the detail of our image but in a different way. Without entering into too much technical and boring detail and leaving room for some practical example for our images, what you should know is that your picture can be broken down in different ways. The best known, for various reasons, is that of its decomposition into color channels. Another way to decompose the image is by frequencies: trying to synthesize the concept, the image can be divided into High Frequencies, Medium Frequencies and Low Frequencies that when combined together create our final image. “Texture” is a tool that affect details in Medium Frequencies.
In practice, going to increase the cursor between 0 and +100 we will get an effect that will be a something in between increasing the Sharpness and Clarity. On the other way, going to act negatively on the Texture slider, so moving it between 0 and -100, we will have an effect comparable to that given by the noise reduction. In short, apparently is a middle ground between many possibilities already available..but in practice how does it work and how can we use it to our advantage in our landscape images? Should it be used alone or can we combine it with other tools related to the detail of the image?
We go as always to see that together.
Preface (I swear the last one!)
We will intentionally “overdose” a bit the adjustments sliders on 1:1 portions of the image. This will allow us to better compare the potential of the tool.
As an image to work on I choose the one you see below because it contains all the elements on which the Texture tool could contribute, and in particular:
- Area 1: Rocks in the foreground, rich in details
- Area 2: Cloudy sky
- Area 3: Sea, captured with a long exposure..but not too long (60 seconds)
The image published here is in a non-final version just to appreciate the potential of the various tools.
Therefore, no color or detail correction has been applied to it, but only the lens corrections (distortion and chromatic aberration) has been applied and I just worked with Highlights and Shadows to optimize the histogram to better appreciate the results of the tests.
Area 1 – Rocks in the foreground
The first area we are going to evaluate is a 1:1 resolution portion that contains very interesting details, such as rocks and wave trails.
Normally in post-production I would have used mainly the Clarity tool to retrieve the details.
As we can see, the result of the application of only Clarity (+40) on the rocks is intense ad it recovers a lot of details but at the same time, shadows become darker. Very nice the effect on the water, which allows us to recover the details of the wave trails.
Let’s see what happens if we use Texture tool instead
If we apply Texture (+40) instead, the effect seems to be much more delicate in terms of local contrast, but the detail that is recovered is remarkable. On the water it is perhaps less intense and I prefer what you get with Clarity.
Let’s see side by side the different effect between Clarity and Texture.
What does it happen if we combine both Clarity and Texture?
In my opinion, the combined use of the tools is the winning solution. Here I applied +20 of Clarity and +40 of Texture, and the result seems optimal.
Area 2 – Cloudy sky
Normally in post-production I try to recover some details in the sky, especially if loaded with clouds as in this shot.
Unfortunately often the tools provided by Lightroom are not enough: even if you increase the Clarity by +40, the result differs little from the original, as we see below.
Let’s go to perform the same adjustment with Texture (so +40): we see that the effect is really almost imperceptible if not in the area where the clouds have the greatest contrast.
At this point I try to combine the effects here too, with a Clarity +40 and Texture +40
The result is definitely better, but in my opinion we are not there. To recover the details on the clouds, I still prefer to use Nik Collection and in particular Viveza 2 which is simply amazing if used correctly.
Area 3 – The Sea
Up to now, we have evaluated our tools with positive increases. In fact, initially the new Texture tool was designed in the opposite direction, i.e. not to emphasize the details but to attenuate them, with a specific application in portrait photography.
In fact, in my opinion, Texture has considerable potential to improve the appearance of the sea in a long exposure. If your long exposure does not exceed one minute by choice or necessity, probably the surface of the sea will not be completely silky. As we did before, if we use Clarity but negatively (-40) we reduce this effect of ripples.
As you can see, the effect is very intense. But if we go to apply the same decrease (-40) but with Texture, this is what we get.
In my opinion the effect is really optimal using Texture, because with Clarity you normally get a too blurry effect that makes the image unnatural.
Let’s see below the direct comparison between Clarity and Texture.
In this case, I don’t think it makes sense to combine the two effects.
But when to use Sharpness?
We talked about all the tools to extract details from our image, except for the one that often is considered the real King: Sharpness. There are two reasons: the first is that Sharpness actually acts on the high frequencies, while here we are analyzing Clarity and Texture that both work on the mid frequencies. The second is that I strongly advise against using the Lightroom Sharpness module, especially if the image you go to work is intended for printing, as those who have followed my classes already know.
There are no miraculous tools, but without a doubt, I think that the new Texture tool could be really useful if applied correctly to our images. Used alone or in combination with Clarity, it can help to increase or flatten the details in our image.
To sum up, in a landscape image like the one we analyzed, Texture tool gave me these sensations:
- Rocks: Very effective with positive increase combined with Clarity
- Sky: Not particularly effective even in combined use. Better to use Nik Collection
- Sea: Very effective with a negative adjustment
This, however, is the result of my particular taste and the test on a single image, so now it’s your turn to experiment and to let me know what you think!
Do you want to dive into it deeper?
Why don’t you take a look HERE at my post-production classes via Skype? 😉
Don’t forget to subscribe to my Newsletter to receive all the updates on new articles like this one!