Sharpening of images is a critical step in image post processing workflow. This step is so crucial that if not done properly, can ruin the final image. Today let me take you through how to sharpen images using Adobe Lightroom.

Before I start sharing the steps, pls. note that sharpening is the last step before resizing the image for saving. In other words, it is the last step after you have completed post processing.

Step 1: Open the image in Library Mode

Step 2: Change the mode to Develop Mode

Step 3: Use DETAIL in Develop Mode

In Detail mode you will see four different Sliders:

  • Amount
  • Radius
  • Detail
  • Masking

Amount means how much Sharpening you want to apply.

Radius means how much area of pixel we want to apply sharpening on. It has values from 1 to 3. Value 1 means 1 pixel and if choose 1 as number, it means that the sharpening will be applied on area around 1 pixel only.

Detail means how much detail we want to sharpen. Do we want to sharpen to the finest details or we just want to sharpen coarse detail?

Masking slider allows us to select the areas in the image where we want to apply sharpening and omit areas where we do not want to do sharpening.

As a first step change the “Amount” Slider slowly to reach a point where you start seeing noise. Do not move the slider too much because that will ruin the final image. I usually keep the setting that came by default on opening the image.

Now its time to set the “Radius”. As my thumb rule I always keep this setting at 1 (means 1 pixel). Anything more than this tends to ruin the image.

Important Tip:

To see whether the changes are within limits or not, follow the following steps:

  • Zoom into the area where you want to check the effect of sharpening.
  • After each change of setting, press ALT (Windows) or OPT (MAC) to check the realtime effect of each change.

Now that all three settings are done, we will decide the exact areas in the image where we will apply the sharpening. And we this using Masking slider. Press ALT (Win) or OPT (MAC) and simultaneously move Masking Slider. Initially the color is WHITE (white means the sharpening is applied) and as I move the slider (keeping ALT key pressed), some areas in the image start turning to BLACK color (black color means sharpening is not applied). Stop when you see White only in areas where you want to apply sharpening.

In other words, Masking Slider helps us control the overall impact of sharpening on the image.

When you are doing sharpening in portraits, make sure eyes are sharp but skin can be avoided. When you apply sharpening on landscapes, then try to avoid sharpening on sky.

In the above video Jassi Oberai explains in depth how to apply sharpening on both portrait and landscape images. Do watch and get to understand Sharpening using Lightroom.