Deke’s Techniques 358: Painting Away “Clarity Halos” Caused by Camera Raw

In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques episode, Deke not only removes some unattractive artifacts from his overzealous use of the Clarity slider in Camera Raw, but he actually coins a new phrase—-clarity halos—-to describe said problem. 

Cranking the Clarity in Camera Raw (or Lightroom, for that matter) can give your image some instant pop, but sometimes it leaves behind an unsightly vestige. Because Clarity uses big radius sharpening, if you’re applying it to high-contrast areas you might get more than you bargained for, like the white areas in the tree on the left in the image below.

To fix this problem, Deke uses a wily combination of a blue multiplied layer and that useful but elusive (to me, anyway) Layer Style setting known as Underlying Layer. You can see the effective results in the center image below.

Then, of course, because he’s Deke, he obsessively uses the tonal brushes (Dodge, Burn, and Sponge) on a specifically merged section of the image so that the sky looks exactly the way he wants it to. That’s the appropriately named image on the right below.

Fixing "clarity halos" caused by Camera Raw

For those of you who are members of, there’s yet another—-dare I say, final—-movie on this landscape project, in which Deke selectively sharpens the photo, which—-given all the stress he’s put it through—-takes some subtlety of thought and purpose. If you’re not a member of, you can get a free week’s trial by signing up at

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