The Lightroom Dehaze slider is a powerful weapon that needs to be used with respect and care! It can bring vibrancy and life to boring, flat-looking images. But, pushed too far, it can make shots look harsh and over processed.
It can also exaggerate sensor spots so that the look less like faint dark blobs and more like giant dinner plates. I exaggerate, but so does the Dehaze slider.
There are two places you can use Dehaze. One is the Basic panel, where it shares a sub-section with the Texture and Clarity sliders. All three are local contrast adjustment tools but operating on different scales.
The Texture slider enhances fine detail, the Clarity slider makes objects and edges stand out, and the Dehaze slider works on the biggest scale of all, enhancing the contrast in a localised way without pushing the histogram into clipping the highlights and shadows globally in the way that a regular contrast adjustment would.
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01 A typically somewhat flat photo
Even when you’re in the right place at the right time, nature can throw you a curved ball and give you a scene that’s just a bit flat and dull when you check it later on the computer. You could also blame the camera. Never the photographer. I’ve used the Auto button in the Basic panel to make sure the shadows and highlights are within range, but this has probably just made it worse. This is just what the Dehaze tool was made for.
02 Global Dehaze adjustments
Dehaze adjustments have side-effects, however. In this image, the Dehaze slider has given the sky more life, contrast and saturation, but the image as a whole has got darker, more contrasty and more saturated. With a really, REALLY flat image you might be able to push the slider up to 100, but usually the effect is starting to get overpowering at by the time you get to 50. We sort of get away with it here, but the cliffs in the foreground are getting quite dark.
03 Toning it down
You can counter the effects of the Dehaze slider by reducing the contrast and saturation to compensate, and this does work very well – except that when you check the adjusted image against the original you can often find out that you’ve gone in a big adjustment circle and ended up pretty much back where you started. So this is the dilemma with Dehaze. There’s a sweet spot where you get much of the benefit and not too much of an increase in saturation and contrast, but it’s not always possible to get the picture just how you want it.
04 Dehaze with local adjustments
Very often, you’re better off using a local adjustment – and you get the Dehaze slider here too. In this final version I’ve used a graduated filter for the sky and a Dehaze setting of 50. I’ve used a separate grad for the foreground, which actually needed a completely different set of exposure and white balance adjustments.
• The Lightroom Dehaze tool is very powerful – often too powerful
• It increases local contrast but also makes images darker and more saturated
• It’s often better used with local adjustments and not on the whole image