Lightroom Dehaze

Lightroom’s divisive new “Dehaze” feature.

The latest update to Lightroom CC has added a new “dehaze” slider that allows Lightroom to increase or decrease the haziness of an image.  It’s kind of a nice thing to have with landscape photos since pollution and dust can cause hazy conditions that can fade out distant mountains.

This last weekend I was in Cathedral Valley and a forest fire nearby gave some good shots to test the new feature out on.  Here’s the first evening looking north down into the the Valley.  You can see how the hazy orange smoke faded the whole landscape.  Original imported photo on the left and only +50 dehaze applied to the right:

Lightroom Dehaze
Cathedral Valley with Lightroom Dehaze

Some midday shots had even more smoke blown in and the haze got thick enough to obscure Thousand Lakes Mountain.  Or so I thought.  I tried the dehaze slider on them and it was amazing how much detail was extracted out of what looked like a flat grey mountainside.  In fact the dehaze slider was able to reveal some more of the redrock cathedral like formations on the mountainside below the higher altitude pine trees.

Lightroom dehaze on Cathedral Valley
+100 dehaze on the Walls of Jericho in Cathedral Valley.

Look back at that grey mass and see how much detail you can find. Although at this point the image is so overcooked I don’t think anybody would bother editing it this way it still gives a good example of how powerful the simple slider is at cutting through thick smoky haze.

But I mentioned this feature is “divisive”.

The weird thing is the massive online pushback against this new feature.  As the first photo shows it can do some nice edits to a photograph that was not under ideal circumstances.  Many people say it will be overused like HDR was, leading to some obviously manipulated photos as if that didn’t happen constantly already with the normal editing tools.
Others say it doesn’t add any new features to Lightroom because a “Photoshop Master (their words) can edit the tone curves to do the same thing.”  Which is true but it’s not nearly as easy as moving a slider.  And so far I haven’t seen any of these “masters” provide an example that pulls out the detail that the slider got out of the picture above without ruining it even worse.  And the amount of edits and customization for each individual situation is exhausting.
Bumping up contrast and clarity has always cleared out haze, much to my annoyance in beautiful foggy shots, so an effects slider to add or remove haze at the end is nice.  So why would so many Lightroom users be so against it?

I think really it comes from the fact that only Lightroom CC users got the tool and the users who purchased a one time copy didn’t.  The people badmouthing the feature are invariably the same that don’t have the feature and are felling a little burnt that they didn’t new add-ons the people with a subscription got.  So they have to tell you how worthless it is and how they can do it anyway if they want to.

Nobody in their right mind would be so vocal in disliking a new tool that they’re not forced to use and doesn’t get in their way.  They’re vocal because for the first time since the new subscription option the Lightroom CC users are pulling ahead of the people who bought a standalone copy of the program.
And it’s not like we didn’t know this would happen.  That was the appeal of the subscription, you pay monthly but your copy of the software will always be the most recent copy Adobe is selling.  But if you buy Lightroom 2014 in a store, on a CD, and load it on your computer, LR 2014 is all you get.  They may send out bug and security fixes but you don’t get the new features unless you buy LR 2015.  And again with LR 2016 and onward.

Still, a nice new tool that might come in handy from time to time.
Despite what “the internet” may say.


One thought on “Lightroom’s divisive new “Dehaze” feature.”

  1. Great photo of Cathedral Valley. I was there with my kids just a couple weeks back—we camped at the campground. Amazing place!


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