Lightroom Dehaze slider is a filter that either increases or decreases the haziness of the atmosphere. This tool is very useful for the landscape photo processing and every photographer or retoucher needs to be aware of its pros and cons.
What is a dehaze slider
An atmosphere can look clear or hazy depending on the number of particles flying around. Weather conditions that add haze are fog, mist, rain, dust, breeze. Putting aside creative effects this may add, dehaze filter manipulates how much of these effects should be present in the photo. But it’s not that straightforward and there are a few tricks that could improve your editing results.
Lightroom Dehaze +
The most intuitive use of this slider is when you are editing a photo from a bit foggy, rainy or otherwise hazy day and you want to bring out some hidden details. A perfect example is a rainy day when the rain has just ceased and it is still raining here and there and the sky looks grey and dull. An inexperienced photographer would just ditch such a photo.
But with the new knowledge of the dehaze functionality, you’ll be able to bring out all the awesome details in the sky.
Lightroom Dehaze –
The slider goes two ways and sometimes you could or even should use it the other way around. A good example is when you have a bit of a haze and you want to throw in more mystery and fairy tale.
There are a couple of nifty tricks here. When shooting a seascape, often you could see a slight haze created by the wind blowing off the foam off the tops of the waves. And it looks great to increase this horizon haze with a radial filter having dehaze at like -30-50 in it.
Another great trick is to combine this slider with the luminosity masks. As you know, it is available in the camera raw module. So, once in Photoshop, duplicate the layer, apply Filters –> Camera Raw filter with -50 dehaze and then gently paint through the mask to apply the effect in the desired areas only.
Dehaze vs Clarity vs Texture
There are three ways how you can affect the structure and the contrast of the photo (apart from the standard ones, like using contrast, white and black sliders). In fact, I would call these different levels of micro-contrast. In general, dehaze works on a large scale, clarity on the medium scale and texture on the fine details. Every photo could require a different combination of the three. As a general approach, use common sense – if you need to increase/reduce haze, use Dehaze, if you need to manipulate contrast in textures, use Clarity and if you want some textures to become sharper, use Texture.
For instance, for a seascape, I would often increase dehaze, making it look more dramatic and decrease clarity to make the waves smoother. Then I would use radial filters to locally increase clarity back in certain places (cliffs, rocks). And then do the same for the Texture if required.
Dehaze Filter Issues
Although a great feature, dehaze filter isn’t perfect. It has some issues, so you need to know what they are and the ways to overcome them in your editing.
Issue #1 – White Balance and Colour
Along with the haze, Dehaze filter changes the colour of the scene. Let’s say, you have a sunset with some orange glow and for whatever reason, you want to reduce this glow. You move the slider, the scene gain some contrast becoming bluer at the same time. This filter treats colour a part of the haze and affects both.
To fix: After using it, go back to the White Balance control and restore the colours.
Issue #2 – Brightness
This slider also affects the brightness of the photo. If you move it right, the photo becomes darker, if you move to the left, it becomes brighter.
To fix: You’ll need to re-visit Exposure after using it.
Issue #3 – Halo
The first two issues were easy to address, this one is different. In case your photo has some high contrast objects, like tree branches against the sky, then halos might appear at these edges.
To fix: There is no easy fix for this one. You have several options.
- Use a radial filter and add haze back to the problem area.
- Use a radial filter and use dehaze only in the spots where you really need it trying to avoid problem area.
- Try to match brightness using a radial filter and other filters (reduce contrast, reduce highlights)
- Expose the photo twice – once with the dehaze filter, once without and them manually blend using layers in Photoshop.
Lightroom 6 Dehaze
This slider is a feature of CC series of products and will never appear in the Lightroom 6 or prior. However, some people still use these apps with no intention to migrate to CC. So, they need another way of doing the same thing. There are multiple ways of achieving a similar effect in your photos.
- The most obvious way is to download a bunch of presets from the Prolost company for free. They somehow managed to work around this limitation and apply these into your photos. I suspect the functionality might still be there in the engine without being shown on the interface. These will only work in Lightroom 6. For the prior versions, you’ll need to use the method below.
- Do it manually. It’s a bit more time consuming but you can play around and find your own look and feel. I don’t think I should go deeply into this editing, so I’ll give some guidance. This method has a downside – you will be working in Photoshop, which means you are no longer editing raw and quality might be a bit worse than by the slider in Lightroom / ACR.
- Create a new Levels layer
- Use luminosity masks for the Lights (where the haze is) or if you are not familiar with the concept of Luminosity masks, just copy the base layer and hit Ctrl-V at the new adjustment layer mask. This way, you’ll copy the image into the mask and it resembles the Lights mask in a way.
- Now adjust the contrast. Pull the black dot (left) to the right, pull the white dot (right) to the left, then adjust the middle grey dot for the right balance. This change should mostly affect the brighter parts of the photo, where your haze resides.
Dehaze missing or greyed out
There are multiple reasons why this slider can be missing.
- You are running Lightroom 6 or earlier. This filter does not exist prior to the CC version.
- You are running a pirated or hacked version. Some of them don’t have it. Your best option is to subscribe to the actual plan.
- You are not using Process 4 in your edits. Older versions will have the slider greyed out. Just change your Process to the later versions in the Calibration panel and it’ll solve the issue.
- You are looking in the wrong place. In older CC versions, you could find it in the Effects section. In newer versions, please have a look in the Basic section.
Use dehaze filter wisely, try both ways. Apply it globally or locally to certain areas. It adds another dimension to the flow of your creative juices.