About Me

My photo
Spofford, New Hampshire, United States
Jeff Newcomer had been a physician practicing in New Hampshire and Vermont for over 30 years. Over that time, as a member of the Conservation Commission in his home of Chesterfield New Hampshire, he has used his photography to promote the protection and appreciation of the town's wild lands. In recent years he has been transitioning his focus from medicine to photography, writing and teaching. Jeff enjoys photographing throughout New England, but has concentrated on the Monadnock Region and southern Vermont and has had a long term artistic relationship with Mount Monadnock. He is a featured artist in a number of local galleries and his work is often seen in regional print, web publications and in business installations throughout the country. For years Jeff has published a calendar celebrating the beauty of The New England country-side in all seasons. All of the proceeds from his New England Reflections Calendar have gone to support the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at the Cheshire Medical Center. Jeff has a strong commitment to sharing his excitement about the special beauty of our region and publishes a blog about photography in New England.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Adding Depth with Negative Dehaze

The Quest for Depth



1st Draft
The Cover WILL Change
Now that I have submitted my 2016 Calendar, I have to come up with another excuse for lame blogs. This week it is that I have spent the last several days visiting my daughter in Boston and then joined our friends for the annual Rye Beach days. I'll share some coastal pictures later, but this week I want to provide a quick look at a new tool introduced in the recently released versions of Lightroom and Photoshop CC 2015. 


We landscape photographers have a love/hate relationship with fog and haze. Crystal clear air is beautiful, but a little haze can work wonders to provide a sense of depth and mystery.

Misty Stonewall Farm
I'm always looking for ways to provide the impression of depth on my images. It is an inescapable reality that, without the use of funny looking glasses, photography is a two dimensional medium.  Compositional elements such as converging diagonal lines and the inclusion of foreground detail can provide a three dimensional feel, but a little mist or haze in the air can create a layered appearance that goes further to reveal the depth. But what can you do when nature stubbornly provides only "beautiful" crystal clear air.

I have discussed a few of the tools within Photoshop which can enhance the appearance of depth. Spotlighting techniques, use masking to localize an area of contrasting brightness to a distant point, to draw the eye away from the foreground. I recently discussed the use of Negative Clarity to selectively soften distant portions of an image. With the introduction of the Dehaze Tool we have another option for adding a layered appearance to our images.
Depth from Negative Clarity


 The Dehaze tool was introduced in the 2015 versions of Lightroom and in Photoshop's Camera Raw. It is primarily designed to reduce the softening effect of hazy air, salvaging detail in images that would otherwise be washed away. The Dehaze tool is easy to find in the Effects Panels of both Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom's Develop Module.  Within Photoshop, Dehaze can be accessed as an option in the Camera Raw Filter. The tool works well, but can't remove the haze entirely and if taken to extreme can create a dark, overly contrasty, effect that requires further adjustment. I suspect that this is one of those tools that will get better in future versions of the software. 

Dehaze in Lightroom


West River, Dummerston VT

"Negative" Dehaze
Much like with the Clarity Tool, I have been more interested in the Dehaze Tool's ability to go in the negative direction and add haze. The global softening created by "negative Dehaze", has limited usefulness, but when the effect is applied locally, to more distant parts of the scene, it can produce a layered look that reveals depth.

Global Haze

O.K., Let's drop the double negative and just call it the "Haze Effect". As with the local application of negative Clarity, haze can be applied to the entire image and then restricted to a specific area with the application of a layer mask. Although haze can be created from within Lightroom, I find that the localized effect is easier to control as a Camera Raw filter in Photoshop.  

Distant Haze

I create a Camera Raw Filter Layer and then start by adjusting the Dehaze Tool to apply a level of haze which is more intense than I expect to use as my final result. I add the layer mask to localize the effect and then adjust the layer's opacity to reduce the initial high intensity of haze. I find that the haze effect works best when it is not overdone and is applied with a soft edged mask, but the extent and intensity of the effect can always be readjusted with the masking and the layer opacity. All of this can also be done with a Smart Filter layer.

Added Depth
Morning Pasture, Chesterfield, NH

The local application of negative Clarity and Dehaze either separately or in combination can add significantly to the sense of depth in an image. I have been enjoying playing with these adjustments, but as is always true with new tools in Photoshop, it remains to be seen how they will fit into the full range of techniques that are available. 

Localized Dehaze

 Regardless of its eventual place, Dehaze is one more reason to keep up to date with the latest versions of Photoshop and Lightroom.  So have fun.  There are new toys in the sand box.

Dawn Road, Lyndonville Vermont - One of my old favorites

Even classics can be helped with a little modern magic

Jeff Newcomer