Capture One, Dehaze and Adding Definition to Landscape Images

Hi Folks:

It’s hard to believe I started this post last year… Eek!!

First of all, what follows isn’t originally my idea. I came across it in two videos, here. The first one explains more of the concept and the second one delves more into the practical application. I recommend watching both of them, either now or at your leisure. I can wait…

Enhancing Portraits with Dehaze in Capture One

Okay, what is my idea is taking this concept and applying it to landscape photography. In the end computers don’t really know, or care, what your subject matter is. A pixel is a pixel.

Now, it should be said that the Dehaze tool was originally designed to remove (or add) atmospheric haze to/ from an image. While there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes, essentially what the Dehaze tool doing is adding (or removing) contrast. Adding contrast in its most basic sense means making dark areas darker and making light areas lighter. An image without any contrast is a completely gray box. Now, Capture One has several tools to manipulate Contrast. First is the Levels tool. The levels tool is most widely used to set the Black point and the White point: setting the darkest and brightest parts of the image. Next we have the Contrast slider. Using the Contrast slider adds/removes contrast from the entire image; it can be rather a blunt instrument, especially if used without discretion. To make more refined choices with contrast in an image we have the Curves tool (especially the Luma curve) and we have the Clarity and Structure sliders. Clarity and Structure mostly affect contrast in the mid-tones of the image, and Structure adds a finer degree of contrast than does Clarity. Finally, even the Sharpening tool is essentially adding contrast along edges.

They all have their uses depending on the image and the preferences of the photographer. Using the Dehaze slider as detailed here is simply one more tool you can use. Its effects tend to be subtle and it’s not something one would use for every image. Let’s begin.

This is an image of a bigleaf maple leaf that we encountered last fall at Cathedral Grove.
(click on any image to see it larger)

The first image is after basic processing adjustments. For the second image I added a new filled layer and added Clarity (20) and Structure (20) to the entire image.

I turned off the Clarity/Structure layer, added a new filled layer and used the Luma Range tool to select the darker parts of the frame. In this case I left the dark falloff at 0-20, then added a long falloff toward the highlight areas.

I added a Dehaze amount of 30 to the masked area. Again, the effect is subtle, but it’s there.

By turning the Clarity layer back on we arrive at the final image.

Here’s another image I made last fall at Chesterman Beach in Tofino, BC

As before, the first image is after basic processing, and the second image has a new filled layer with Clarity (18) and Structure (11) applied to the entire image.

Again, I unchecked the Clarity layer, created a new filled layer and used the Luma Range tool to restrict the mask to the darker areas of the frame. This time I included the blacks and lowered the highlights but kept the long falloff.

This image has a Dehaze setting of 29.

That got me most of the way to where I wanted to be but I wanted to add more contrast to the clouds so I created another layer and targeted the brighter clouds in the upper left quadrant of the image.

Above is the final result.

Okay, one more. This image was made at the Victoria Butterfly Gardens just north of the city.

Here the Plumeria flowers are the focus (pun intended) of the image so rather than applying Clarity/Structure to the entire image I first created a mask of the flowers using the Magic Brush tool. A little careful erasing of the mask was necessary but overall it worked very well. Again I applied a Luma Range adjustment, this one excluding only the brightest highlights of the flowers.

After applying Clarity (23) and Structure (14) to the masked area, I ended up here.

I unchecked that layer and created a new layer, this time copying the mask from the previous one.

With a Dehaze setting of 29 I darkened the petals slightly but also brought out a little more texture.

Since the leaves in this image are simply background, I added another layer, using the Magic Brush to target the leaves and the flower stems. I darkened the background and added some negative clarity to soften it. Above is the final image.

So there you go. Three images made using similar techniques and the Dehaze tool to add slightly more contrast to certain parts of your images. As I mentioned above its effects are subtle and it doesn’t work on every image, but it’s worth a try … on portraits or landscapes!

Okay, that’s it. Now go out and make some photographs!!


P.S. A reminder that one of the useful features of Capture One is to create your own custom keyboard shortcuts. For example, I use Ctrl-X to switch from Finder to Browser, the tilde (`) key (upper left) to return to the Finder, Alt-X to create a new filled adjustment layer, and Alt-B to enable the Magic Brush tool.

P.S. II, the sequel: Although I didn’t show any, this technique can work equally well on grayscale images.

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