In this tutorial you will learn how to create a sharpness effect on your photo using lightroom, it's almost like an fake hdr effect and at the same time the result is very close to what Dave Hill gets on his photos.

With the creation of hdr photos, it feels like an window was open to a new way and look on photographs, the lights and colors so bright and sharp, the result was so amazing that was hard not to fall in love when you saw some hdr photos for the first time. Hdr photo also opened the mind of thousands of photoshopers to try to recreate the same effect without the work of taking a bunch of photos with different exposures or so on. That so desired shortcut would turn your simple pictures into great photos. Well, a lot of time went by and a lot of people still experiencing with some of these effects, looking for that special recipe that can bring your work to the next level. Some artists have been using some great effects on their photos and also defined this new style of photography like the very well known Dave Hill, the guy that puts a doubt in every ones mind about how he does it. Searching for the same answers as everyone else I dug into google looking to learn more from other peoples experience and learned that only very few experiences were successful and worth a try. The best way to approach this was told by Scott Kelby and here I will share with you the experience I had by following his steps. First thing you going to need is Adobe Lightroom, if you don't have it don't hesitate to download a 30 day trial here. We are not going to go dept into lightroom, just the basic knowledge we need to pull up this effect but if you look around and start playing you will notice that it isn't that hard to get around this software. Our first step is to open Lighroom and import the photo you want to work on, I am going to use one of my own photos that I took in NYC a couple years ago.

Click on the images for a bigger view

Now we are going to change to Develop mode so we can start working on our photo, we only going to work with the Basics.

It’s important to realize there is no perfect recipe, you have to feel the changes as you make it to get a better result out of it. The first change we are going to make is to bring Recovery all the way to 100.

Our next step we will bring the Fill Light up, but when we do that the photo gets really light and we have to use Blacks to make the photo look normal again. So you have to have in mind that as much Fill Light you put you have to always follow with Blacks, so you will decide how much of a light or a dark look you photo will have, I personally like to bring up Fill light until a point that it’s not making the photo look all white and follow with Blacks with only half of the number of Fill Light. In this case I will use Fill Light 80 and Blacks 40 (don’t hesitate to experience other settings)

Our next step is to bring the Clarity up to +100

And now we are going to give more Vibrance to the photo but we don’t want to get way to vibrant because that will make you lose some of the lights on the photo so I bring the Vibrance to +70 (This is something that will change depending on the photo you working on so you need to get a good feeling of how vibrant you want it to be)

For our final touch we will desaturate the photo just enough so it will still have color and that desaturated feeling to it as well, so depending on how much Vibrance you apply you may have to apply less saturation to get the right look. Set the Saturation to -60.

Depending on the photo you may have to change up a bit as I said before but the steps are very simple and here you can take a look on the before and after result.

Here is the final result:


Click on the Image to compare the final result with the original.

Other samples using the same effect.


Click on the Image to compare the final result with the original.


Click on the Image to compare the final result with the original.


Click on the Image to compare the final result with the original.

About the author of this post

My name is Paulo Canabarro, I'm a passionate freelance web designer paulocanabarro.com and enthusiastic blogger here at abduzeedo. Catch me designing Wordpress Themes. Say hello on twitter @paul0v2.