I just downloaded and installed the latest version of Adobe Lightroom CC, which includes a feature that might be very useful in a number of situation. What Adobe has done is adding a Dehaze slider to the Effects panel that is supposed to remove the atmospheric haze from pictures.
I have just done a few tests with it and I am quite pleased with the results, at least on some images. This below is one I took from the Astronomical Clock Tower in Prague, on a cold April morning. While I was visiting the Old Town Hall, a snowstorm hit the city. I was hoping for it to last enough to cover the roofs in white, but alas, it only lasted a few minutes. I snapped a few pictures anyway, which ended up being quite hazy.
Later, I tried recovering some detail and contrast in Lightroom, pumping up the Clarity and Contrast, and moving the Blacks and Highlights sliders a lot to the left. While I could recover some detail in the distant areas, more affected by haze, the areas closer to the camera and less hazy became too crunchy and harsh. I could have applied the necessary adjustments as part of a gradient filter, but decided it wasn’t worth the hassle and set the picture aside, for maybe editing later.
Yesterday, as soon as I heard news of the new Lightroom version, I updated mine and opened that old image again, wanting to test the new Dehaze slider on it. As you can see in the screenshot below, the results were nothing short of amazing.
Questions & Answers
Does the Dehaze operation work well? I would say: yes, most of the times. Some other images didn’t come out so good.
Can you obtain the same result using other tools? Probably yes, but it takes more effort. Dehaze seems to be able to protect areas that aren’t hazy fairly well, so you can just move the slider to the right, until it looks good. You can also slide it to the left, to add more haze to your pictures.
Should we start dehazing all of our pictures? No, sometimes haze just adds more mystery and depth to a picture. As with everything, use it with caution.
Is there anything missing? I wish there was a dehaze slider in the controls available for filters and brushes, to apply it selectively. As with other controls, Adobe always seems to start by adding them globally, then making them available in filters. This was the case with Temperature and Tint and this latest version of Lightroom adds Whites and Blacks to the set of locally adjustable parameters. Maybe one of the next versions will add Dehaze to the mix.
Are you happy that the Creative Cloud version lets you get all new features as soon as they are released, without waiting for the next major upgrade? Yep. Unfortunately for users of the standalone version, they won’t get this feature.