The New Dehaze Tool

By Roger (22 June 2015)

If you belong to Adobe's Creative Cloud subscription programs, you just received new updates to several programs. One of my favorite new tools is the Dehaze feature. It allows you the opportunity to remove or add haze in your photos. Adobe says that the algorithm used is “based on a physical model of how light is transmitted, and it tries to estimate light that is lost due to absorption and scattering through the atmosphere.” OK, that's nice if you're into the technical details.

In the past, you could find some tutorials, around the internet, that addressed reducing the impact of haze, using Levels and Curves adjustments. In Lightroom, I've tried to reduce the impact of haze, using Clarity and Contrast. Both methods will help, but this is supposed to be a more refined approach. It is, certainly, a faster approach because you just use sliders to make your adjustments. It turns this exercise from minutes to seconds.

You can find the sliders in the Develop Module of Lightroom CC or the Camera Raw windows of Photoshop CC. (Please note: If you have the stand-alone Lightroom 6 version, you will not see this upgrade.)

Dehaze in Lightroom (L) and Photoshop (R)

Dehaze in Lightroom (L) and Photoshop (R)

Notice that the slider's default position is set to 0. The scale moves to 100, in both positive and negative directions. Moving the slider to the right will remove haze and, to the left, adds haze. The algorithm cannot put in details that don't exist in your file, so it will only do so much. This is another reason to make sure you get a proper exposure. And, since there is more information in a RAW file, this is another reason to shoot RAW.

Let me run through a couple examples.

Here are a couple of boats floating so deeply in the fog, they are almost invisible. Photo 1 is the original file, with no adjustments. Photo 2 has adjustments made the old-fashioned way, with the Clarity and Contrast sliders, in Lightroom. And Photo 3, is the original photo and the Dehaze slider, only. I moved the slider to +40, so less than half the available amount.

Original

Original

Original+LR Clarity and Contrast

Original+LR Clarity and Contrast

Original+Dehaze only

Original+Dehaze only

There is quite a difference. You can now see the beginnings of the island behind the boats. I had forgotten that was even there. Sadly, there still isn't a “Make-It-Wonderful” slider.

If you want to create or enhance the moodiness of a photograph, you can increase the haze.

Finished lighthouse photo

Finished lighthouse photo

Lighthouse, with fog added, using negative Dehaze slider

Lighthouse, with fog added, using negative Dehaze slider

I've had mixed results when adding haze. I'm not a fan of it, in this lighthouse photo. I've also found it doesn't work well with every photo, but that is no different than every other tool or plug-in you use in these two programs.

Of course, after you've used the Dehaze tool, you can continue to edit your photo with the other tools available in both programs. I've just started playing around with that. I will keep experimenting with this and recommend you do the same. That's the best way to learn how these programs work. It's part of the fun of post-processing. Give it a shot, and see what works best for your photos.