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How to Fix a Hazy Photograph in Under 10 Minutes

Mike Hagen (Mike_Hagen)

Keywords: guides, tips


Image 1. Cascade Mountains from the air. The three visible mountains are Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson.

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Otto Fabricius (fabric) on October 17, 2013

Sorry, of course I meant Capture NX2! Thanks,

Otto Fabricius (fabric) on October 16, 2013

Living close to the southern Alps in France, I often encounter problems with haze. As Mike describes, I often increase contrast or/and micro contrast, but many times it is worth trying to add more or less polarization. If I didn't use a filter on the camera, I use the polarization filter in the Nik collection, either in Photoshop or in ViewNX2. Sometimes also an ND filter can be useful. But whatever we do, we have to be careful, because it all makes noise more visible!

Richard Luse (DaddySS) on October 15, 2013

Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Ribbon awarded for  his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2017

Thanks Mike. Good insight and much appreciated.

Dr. Patrick Buick (profpb) on October 14, 2013

Mike, it was a treat for me to see you last week. I was in extreme norhern California and the haze at Patrick's Point needed work. I fixed it with your procedure. Thank you for the umteenth time. "Doc"

Ronnie Scaggs (RS425) on October 13, 2013

Thanks for the insight. I have several images that need this treatment. Getting up early to shoot in better light is sometimes hampered by city smog or haze.

User on October 11, 2013

I really found this informative, thank you. I actually dug out some hazy images and followed your routine through Lightroom and then finished off in Nik Silver Efex. I was delighted with the results as the image I chose I had abandoned as a non keeper. I have posted the process in the "Digital and post processing" forum if anyone is interested. http://www.nikonians.org/forums/dcboard.php?az=show_topic&forum=196&topic_id=67681&mesg_id=67681&page= Richard

Frederic Hore (voyageurfred) on October 9, 2013

I agree with Mike about using the Clarity tool in Adobe Camera RAW, by moving the slider to the right to add snap to the image. However, I have found to make my aerial images stand out, the Levels toll in Photoshop Elements 11 or Photoshop CS6 works great to add black, mid-tones and to brighten up the image. For others reading this who are not familiar with Levels (found under "Enhance" in Elements; "Image-|Image Adjustments-|"Levels" in PS CS 3 to 6) you can adjust the Black point by moving the black triangle to the right (left corner under the Histogram), the mid-tone contrast with the Gray triangle, and the whites with the white triangle on the right side. This will vastly improve a bland, flat image. The I will add some saturation to the image, to pump up the colours muted by the atmospheric haze. I agree with Mike, that converting to B&W cam produce better results where there is not too much colour in the image, as viewed in his gorgeous sample image of the Cascade Mountains. Cheers, Frederic in Montreal http://www.RemakableImages.ca

Joe Zamudio (cocavaak) on October 8, 2013

from a remote sensing perspective, haze contributes to scattered light. In remote sensing we correct for increased signal due to scattered light by subtracting a certain amount of DN for each band - typically we subtract more from the blue band than the green and more from green than red. I would be interested to see how we could remove a certain DN level for each band (R,G,B). Does Aperture or Lightroom allow you to do that? If so, I would then try increasing the contrast as the next step.

Tony Zaiden (Totex) on October 8, 2013

Thanks Mike, very timely advise!!!

dave hunter (thauma) on October 7, 2013

great post - very useful

Chapman Solomon (CorVette98) on October 7, 2013

Thanks Mike Since I have a Mac, I use the Aperture application, so I was wondering about your reference to the clarify tool in nik. I am thinking that the highlight bar (Aperture) is the equivalent. Please advise me. Thanks, Chap