One of the features available in Lightroom CC 2015.x that’s not available with Lightroom 6.x is the Dehaze tool. I’m not sure what magical coding is going on behind the curtain, but if it’s possible to duplicate this effect using the other sliders, it’s neither inherently obvious (at least to me) nor easy to do so. If you have a Lr CC subscription, updating to the latest version should give you access to the Dehaze tool. If you’re using a standalone version of Lr 6, all is not lost – thanks to Stu over at Prolost.com – as he’s made a series of presets available for download. You can buy the Dehaze presets as part of a larger preset package here, or you can download only the Dehaze presets for free (or by donation) here.
If you have Lr CC2015.1 or later the Dehaze slider will be under the Effects panel in the Develop module (below Grain). It’s also available as a slider with the mask tools (Graduated Filter, Radial Filter, etc). If you’re using Lr 6.1 or later, using Dehaze will only be possible using the downloaded presets mentioned above. As such, one of the limitations is that the presets are in graduations of 10 – i.e. one can add 50 or 60, but not 53 the way one could set the slider in Lr CC.
NB: The rest of this post assumes you have some understanding of how to use the Develop module in Lr. If you don’t, you’re welcome to read any or all of the 60+ tutorials we have on our blog, starting here, or you can find over 200 other sites that have Lr tips, tutorials, videos, etc. here.
On we go!
So, what is the Dehaze tool, and what does it do? In the same way that the Clarity slider can be used to add mid-tone contrast but negative Clarity can be used to give a softening effect to an image, the Dehaze tool can remove atmospheric haze from an image but negative Dehaze can also be used to add a sense of haze to an image.
First and foremost, the Dehaze tool cannot/ does not replace a polarizing filter mounted on your camera lens. However, if you have an image made without a polarizing filter, the Dehaze tool can alleviate some of the glare.
Here’s an example of an image made with an old Canon A95 (6MP!) at Kasugai Garden in Kelowna, BC:
There’s obviously a lot of glare on the water here (this is where one wants that polarizing filter). Adding a crop and a +60 Dehaze to the image gets us to this point:
This has removed some of the glare and added definition to the image. If we use the Spot Removal tool to remove some of the foam on the water and push the sliders around a bit, we end up with a koi swimming through a nebula…or something like that.
Here’s an example of three Coast Guard ships at the pier in Patricia Bay, just north of Victoria, BC:
If we add a -50 Dehaze to the image and push the sliders around a bit we can recreate the idea of a misty morning:
Now, one can use the Dehaze tool to affect the entire image, but it can also be used to affect only a portion of the image. Here’s an image made with my cell phone of a boat in Victoria’s Inner Harbour:
A little judicious cropping gets to this point.
Now, most of the ‘weight’ of the image is in the lower half of the frame, so it would be nice to punch up the clouds to add a little drama. We only want to affect the clouds, so we’re going to use the Radial Filter tool. Using the Prolost +50 Dehaze Radial Filter preset gets us to this point.
Not quite what we’re looking for, but that’s okay. By clicking on the Radial Filter tool and the edit pin for the ellipse mask that’s been created, we can make it smaller, like this.
The size doesn’t really matter too much, because of the next step. One of the features in Lr 6.x and Lr CC2015.x is the ability to use a brush to add to and remove from the mask created by the Graduated Filter or Radial Filter tool. See the right side panel, and beside Mask: New / Edit it says Brush. Click that.
This works the same as the regular Brush tool, and one can add/remove from the existing ellipse mask, like this:
Now, because this image was made with a cell phone, adding punch to the clouds also highlights the noise. While we’re in the Radial Filter Tool, we’re going to push the Noise slider to +100. One could also add a little negative Sharpness and/or negative Clarity, but we don’t want to limit the Dehaze effect too much.
By pushing the sliders around a bit we come to our final image, here:
Not too bad for a cell phone image.
So there you go… a quick overview of the Dehaze tool and – for those using Lr 6.x – a way to access it by using the Prolost presets. You might also want to try adding a negative Dehaze to (for example) the background of an image and a positive Dehaze to the foreground to create a greater sense of separation. Many thanks to Stu at Prolost for providing these presets!
Okay, that’s it. Now go out and make some photographs!!
P.S. You can find more of our posts on photography and Lightroom tutorials here, and you can find links to over 200 other sites that have Lightroom tips, tutorials and videos here.