Creative Use Of Lightroom’s Dehaze Slider

Creative Use Of Lightroom’s Dehaze Slider
Do you know about the Dehaze Slider? It was added to Lightroom a few years back and became a hidden gem so beloved that in a recent upgrade, Adobe moved the slider to a more prominent position in Lightroom CC’s Develop module. So now you may have noticed it there, front and center, right beneath the Clarity Slider on the Presence panel. But what, exactly, do you do with this slider? Do your photos suffer from haze? Is that really all this slider is for?

You’ll be happy to learn that, no, the Dehaze Slider isn’t only for haze. It’s essentially a way to modify midrange contrast, so it serves as a kind of complement to the Whites and Blacks adjustments, in a way, as well as a complement to the Clarity slider—which also impacts midrange contrast at the edges throughout an image.

By adjusting the Dehaze slider into the positive values (to the right) midrange contrast is increased, making shadows darker and, in practice, generally giving the image a slightly darker and contrastier appearance while also boosting saturation. Sliding it to the left, into negative values, the image will get a bit brighter and flatter—almost appearing, in fact, hazier. That hints at the origin of the slider: It’s useful certainly for mitigating the appearance of haze in an image. This can be common in landscape images, certainly, or any other kind of photo where there’s a lot of atmosphere between the camera and the subject.

Creative Use Of Lightroom’s Dehaze Slider

Creative Use Of Lightroom’s Dehaze Slider

But as I mentioned, this slider isn’t only for removing haze. It works wonders in any situation where an image has similar low-contrast challenges or just as a creative tool. Reflections off glass windows, for instance, can produce a flatter, less well-defined appearance that the Dehaze slider can minimize. Lens flare, too, which can sap saturation and contrast from a scene—the Dehaze slider can practically put it back as if it never happened. Fog, smoke, haze, glare…anything that saps definition, saturation and contrast, the Dehaze slider is here to help.

What’s interesting is the way this tool works. It’s specifically built for RAW files in Lightroom, to make use of all the added detail available in them, and somehow able to impact contrast without obliterating detail. In fact, it practically seems to pull out details that are barely there, lost in the haze.

Most of all, though, I find that the Dehaze slider can be immensely helpful for simply adding a bit of “oomph” to an otherwise ho-hum photo. Similar to the way a bit of added sharpness and edge contrast from the Clarity slider can spice up a bland shot, the Dehaze slider can be used creatively for that same kind of effect. In any situation where a shot seems flat and low contrast, or has a feeling of plainness and lacks drama, diligent application of the slider can add a bit of drama. It can darken a blue sky to add interest and drama, as in the seascape sample shown here, or it can punch up a portrait. In fact, the portrait examples here show the effects of dialing the Dehaze slider up and down. (The image with Dehaze +30, actually, required pulling back the saturation a bit to keep it from looking obnoxious. A little bit of the slider goes a long way.)

Creative Use Of Lightroom’s Dehaze Slider

Creative Use Of Lightroom’s Dehaze Slider

Creative Use Of Lightroom’s Dehaze Slider

And don’t forget that the reverse is also true. If you’re looking for an image to appear light and airy, even gauzy or ghostly, dragging the Dehaze slider into negative territory is ideal. Wedding shooters, for instance, might appreciate the ability to add a bit of brightness and a dreamlike quality to the portraits of their brides. It’s also a great way to add a bit of detail to a backlit subject that has lost a little too much detail to the shadows.

Drag left and it will make the image brighter and fainter. Drag right and add contrast and drama. However you choose to deploy it, the Dehaze slider can be incredibly useful for a variety of creative purposes.

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