PHOTOGRAPHY EDITING TIPS: CREATING SOFT GRAINY TEXTURE

LUKAS KORYNTA EDITING TIPS // I was blown away by the response I got for my previous editing tips article and many of you asked for another one. This time I want to explain my process for adjusting texture of the photo using grain, sharpness and clarity.

Here's the thing - I am not a big fan of that perfect digital look in photos so I'm usually going for much more rough and grainy feel. Changing the overall texture of the photo can make a big difference as it can be that "extra little something" to your usual edit.

There are multiple ways to create the texture you want. One of the most popular solutions has definitely been a legendary software called AlienSkin Exposure that many photographers use for final touches after they already exported from Lightroom. It offers advanced grain settings and with a little curve adjustment you can sometimes make magic with your edited jpegs. I've used the software a lot in the past but adding this extra step to my workflow never really worked for me so I tried to figure out how to get the look I want using just Lightroom. Here are some steps I take.

lukas korynta

1. Adding Clarity for Texture

If there is one slider that can make or break the texture of the photo, it's clarity. Take it up or down too much and your photo will look like you edited it in the very first Instagram app. However with the right amount, your photo can get a nice contrasty feel. All my presets have at least +5 or +10 clarity in them. Adding clarity will definitely darken blacks in the photo so I like to bring those back up with either the shadow slider or by fixing the curve.

2. Bigger Grain

Here's where the magic happens. Right combination of clarity and grain size will significantly change the fell of the photo and make it look less digital. It's no secret that Lightroom grain can look very fake so you need to do some tweaking. My go to setting is between 20-30 for gain amount and 55-65 for size and roughness. The reason is that bigger grain is softer. And since the clarity is already up, grain will soften all those added details.

lukas korynta
lukas korynta

3. Be careful with Sharpening

Cameras and lenses I've used usually produce very sharp images so there is no need to add more of that in post process. No one likes to see all those skin details and blemishes anyway! There definitely are times when sharpening the right parts of the photo will create a nice effect though. Hold your "alt" key when adjusting sharpening slider and especially the masking slider so you see which areas are being effected.

4. Aperture

The way you shoot also effects the final result (duh!). Especially since the clarity slider can be so aggressive, all these steps work best on photos that are already soft. I like to shoot between f1.6 and f2 and I love the look I'm getting from my 35mm 1.4 L and the 50mm 1.2 L. These lenses are pretty old and are not extremely sharp (compared to newer Sigma lenses for example) so adding some clarity and sharpening is not too destructive.

Extra Tip: Underexposing

Ok, this is probably not the best advice but I've notice I really love the texture of the photo when I have to bring the exposure up a lot (because I messed up the shot and it's totally underexposed). There's just something about those grainy shadows I really like. I usually shoot a bit underexposed anyway so this works perfectly for me.