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How to Get Sharp Portrait Image in Lightroom Classic

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The adobe photoshop lightroom has powerful tools that play an essential role in sharpening pictures during image processing. These sharpening tools are found in the Develop Module of Lightroom, specifically under the details panel. Sharpening of images involves adding contrasts to the image pixels to make the image's background brighter in its appearance compared to the surrounding environment. Under the detail box, there are both sharpening tools and noise reduction tools. These tools help photographers improve their workflow digitally by tuning the images finely.

This prepares the images for publishing before they can be printed efficiently and quickly without consuming time. This has made the tools more reliable in image processing as they have proven their satisfactory qualities. This article focuses on the Sharpening of images, which can help you get a sharp portrait image in the lightroom. The brilliant pictures produced in the lightroom are always more bright and pleasant in their appearance than blurry or soft images. For this reason, many photographers prefer Sharpening their photos during the post-processing period.

Problems Encountered with Image Sharpening.

There are usually some challenges that also arise during the image sharpening. These challenges include;

1. Over Sharpening

During image post-processing, some photographers sharpen their images too much, leading to the development of some visible lines around and on the object's edges. Because of this, the images may appear to be more textured in their appearance when printed.

2. Adding too much noise to the image

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Kate Abstract Vintage Rust color Textured Wall Rusty Backdrop

When the Sharpening is applied in excess to the image during the post-processing, it can add too much noise to the picture. In most cases, the noise becomes worse when the image has already been shot with the level of resolution and then sharpened.

3. Production of zigzag lines

This is the last challenge brought about by too much Sharpening of the images. It involves the conversion of the thin lines into zigzags. Circular shapes acquire some cubic transitions when the image is over-sharpened with a significantly large radius.

4. The detail panel-image sharpening

As Stated earlier, the detail panel in the develop module contains the sharpening tools. IT is similar to the "unsharp Mask "tool found in the photoshop application. However, it is much better as it provides extra control techniques for sharpening the pictures. Sharpening images using these tools is easy, efficient, and saves much of your time compared to using photoshop. In addition, it also solves the destructive challenge encountered when sharpening an image on photoshop. The fierce challenge is whereby changes are made to an image when Sharpening becomes impossible to undo.

Furthermore, the lightroom stores the changes made in an image in a different file that depends on the image format and does not modify the picture, as evidenced in photoshop. This makes it easier for you to correct any mistake you can unknowingly make when sharpening your images. For instance, if you want to correct an error made on an image, you can revert the modifications you made to the image through the applications history panel input or reset the image back to its original form. It also lets you perform the custom settings on your images when importing, which helps you save time, especially when dealing with many photos.

girl's photo with Kate Like Oil Painting Background Abstract Texture Backdrops For Photography

Kate Like Oil Painting Background Abstract Texture Backdrops For Photography

The Settings Involved in Sharpening

For to set the Sharpening in your lightroom application, you can follow the steps below;

Step 1: Open your lightroom application and press “D” on your machine keyboard or mouse click on the “Develop” located on the top right panel of your application to open the Develop model for you.

Step 2: You can now use your mouse to left-click your image and view it in its whole (100%) size before you begin sharpening it.

Step 3: You can then expand the panel in the application to enable you to scroll down to the detail panel.

In the sharpening tool, there are four different types of sliders; These sliders include;

1. Amount slider

This slider helps you apply the amount of sharpening you want to the image. When you increase the number of the amount, you will see a more sharpening in the image and vice versa. However, increasing the Sharpening will result in too much noise in the picture. In most cases, many photographers prefer using 50 as their preferred value. However, you can decrease or increase it to your desired value depending on the noise level and the image.

2. The radius slider

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Kate Brown Oil Painting/Blue Texture Collapsible Backdrop Photography

This slider is used to vary the size of the area around the edges of the image being sharpened. The most used value of the radius is 1.0, which is also the default value in the lightroom application. This value technically means that over one pixel is applied around the edges of the image when sharpening. Therefore, if you increase the value to 2.0, the Sharpening will automatically spread to two pixels around the edges of the image, making it thicker. Because of this, the default value of 1.0 is the most commonly used by many photographers.

3. The detail slider

This slider helps control the amount of sharpening applied on the edges of the image. A value of 0 may be used to sharpen only more significant edges in the detail slider, while 100 will sharpen the tiny edges of an image. For instance, if you use a retail value of about 50 to sharpen an image of a bird, all the feathers of the bird will be perfectly sharpened, including even the thinner feathers. On the other hand, if you use a 0-detail value to sharpen the image of the same bird, only the thicker and larger feathers will be sharpened. Because of this, 50 is always the most preferred detail value, as increasing this value may also result in noise.

4. The masking slider

This slider helps cover the parts of your image that you don't want to sharpen. This tool works similarly to the photoshop mask tool. In addition, the masking slider is always essential in reducing the noise that results from the detail and amount slider. This tool may not be helpful in images that have been sharpened with too much amount and detail. However, it is suitable for images that must be isolated from their background subjects. For this reason, when the background of the image is less defined and soft, then applying the masking will result in a better picture.

When you combine all the four control tools above in sharpening your image, you will produce a perfect image quickly and efficiently without wasting much of your time and energy.

The Step-by-Step Sharpening Tutorial

After understanding the control tools and how to use the lightroom detail panel in sharpening your image, it is now essential to look at a real example. Therefore, the steps below will help you get a sharp portrait image in the lightroom application.  

Step 1:


Open your lightroom application and press the "D" button to direct you to the Develop module panel. In the Develop module, you can click the right sidebar and use your scroll pane to scroll to the "Detail" panel.

Step 2:

Sharp Portrait Image Steps in Lightroom Classic

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Hold the Alt/Option key, slide the amount slider to 75 and observe how the image's background gets. The background gets noisy when the amount value is moved above 50.

For this reason, you can return the value to 50, then release the option key and move to the next slider.

Step 3:

Sharp Portrait Image Steps in Lightroom Classic

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Hold the option key again and now slide the radius from 1.0 to 3.0 and observe the changes made on the edges of the image. When you move the radius to three, you will notice the edges of the image becoming thicker. Therefore, you can return the radius to 1.0 as your preferred value, release the option key, and then move to the next step.

Step 4:

Sharp Portrait Image Steps in Lightroom Classic

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You can now hold the option/ alt key and slide the Detail slider to maybe 75 and observe the changes. You will notice the image becoming whiter in its background with noise added. You can then slide back the value to 50 or below to have the perfect detail sharpening, then release the option key and move to the next step.

Step 5:

Sharp Portrait Image Steps in Lightroom Classic

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Lastly, hold the option key again, slide the masking slider to 50 then observe the changes on the image. You will notice that only the image is visible while the background will change to black. You can then slide it back to your preferred value and release the option key.

Step 6:

You can now have a look at the final image appearance. To look at the image's appearance before sharpening it, you can press the "button” on your keyboard. Now that you are done with the Sharpening, you can click the detail panel and turn it off.


Sharpening your image is one of the modern ways of making your photo more attractive and pleasant. Therefore, with the lightroom application, you can easily add value to your image appearance by following the simple steps below without straining up. The application is easy to use and more efficient in sharpening photos than ever.

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