Reveal Clipping for Creative Editing

The reveal clipping tool built into ADP Pro shows us the areas we are loosing information in our images. Without this tool in Photoshop our only simple option is use our histogram to warn us. But, the issue with our histogram is, is that it doesn’t show us where the clipping is occurring.  As a result of this we drop our highlights or lift our shadows, often lessening the impact of the image.

In this tutorial, we show how you can use the Reveal Clipping tool built into ADP Pro Luminosity Masks Panel. This more accurately deals with clipping issues, resulting in more impactful images.

Clipping Explained

There are two ways that clipping can appear in our images. One is a loss of information in our highlights or shadows through under or over exposure. The other is through the over saturation of a colour in our highlights or shadows. These are completely different issues and should be dealt with using separate methods. This tutorial predominantly covers the loss of information in our highlights and shadows.

Losing information in your highlights or shadows is typically something you want to avoid in your images. It causes blocks of pure whites and blacks, which can act as distraction in your image. But, there may be occasions where this is acceptable or wanted, but is often something we want to avoid.

Reveal Clipping

When you are working within Photoshop, you don’t have the same visual ability to see the areas being clipped. This is much more evident in Camera Raw or Lightroom. In Camera Raw you can turn on the clipping overlays to reveal clipping in your highlights and shadows.

 

Reveal Clipping in Camera Raw and Lightroom

Camera Raw & Lightroom

When you work within Lightroom or Camera Raw, you are given the ability to reveal clipping in your highlights and shadows. They are available by pressing the arrows at the top right of the histogram as shown here.

Clicking on one of these arrows you see red appear if you have any clipping in your highlights. Blue will appear in the areas that you have clipping in your shadows. The colour of the arrows at the top of the histogram, reveal in which channels your losing information.

With Camera Raw or Lightroom you cannot determine what is causing your clipping. As mentioned above, clipping in these programs can be caused by saturation or luminance. This could cause you to adjust your luminance when the issue may be cause by saturation.

White & Black Points Level Adjustment

Photoshop

Photoshop gives us greater ability to see what is causing clipping, through the various types of histograms available. These histograms in Photoshop on their own are still not the perfect solution. 

Luminosity Histogram

This shows where the detail in your image is based on the brightness values of the pixels. If the information is pushed hard right or left, you are losing information in those tones. 

Red, Green & Blue

This shows where the colour information resides, and will show if you have any clipping in specific colour channels. Typically cause by over saturation. 

The combination of these histograms allows you to determine what is causing your clipping. This is something that is not available in Camera Raw or Lightroom. But, it’s still not good enough, we don’t know where the clipping is occurring. 

The Reveal Clipping Button in ADP Pro
Clipping revealed in Photoshop

Reveal Clipping in ADP Pro

The reveal clipping button built into our Luminosity Masks Panel has created a red and blue overlay. Because of this overlay you can now visually see where clipping is occurring. Giving you the ability to see exactly where you are losing information in your images.

So why is this so important? 

You can now deal with the clipping issues in the areas that are being effected, rather than a global approach. Allowing you to maintain brightness or darkness in images, while controlling only areas you’re losing information in. You can also deal with any issues in real time, meaning you can watch the clipped areas disappear as you work on them. 

It will now allow you to push the boundaries in your edits. Pushing the contrast in your images, creating higher and lower key images with the confidence you’re not losing information. 

Reveal Clipping Button

The reveal clipping button works in two stages. 

Stage 1: When the button is pushed a layer is created, revealing the clipped areas in your images. Red areas are where you are clipping in your highlights. Blue areas are where you are clipping in your shadows. 

You will also notice the Reveal Clipping button turns green, letting you know you have an active reveal clipping layer. 

Stage 2: This removes the layer that is revealing clipping and returns the button to grey. 

If you want to create layers to deal with any clipping issues, place those layers below the Reveal Clipping layer. By doing this you will be able to watch the clipped areas change in real time. 

 

Photoshop Histogram Revealing Clipping

An Example of Using Reveal Clipping Creatively

The reveal clipping button is a fantastic tool for revealing areas that are clipped, but it’s much more than that. Use the reveal clipping button to push the boundaries of contrast in your images, creating higher and lower key images. 

In the video above, we use a Levels adjustment layer to push the white point of the image, well into the data within the image. Doing this is something that you would typically avoid, because you can’t see where the information is being lost. This results in less dynamic high or low key images.

By turning on the reveal clipping, and performing the same task, we can see where the information is being lost. Then using a low opacity black brush, we can paint away the areas that we are losing information. This allows us to keep the overall image much brighter or darker. Also, giving us confidence that we are not clipping areas in our images.