Dehazing an Image in Photoshop

Photoshop’s Camera Raw filter now includes a Haze control, which allows you to rescue images beset by fog and atmosphere. But it’s not enough to simply boost the Haze filter on its own; to make the image really look good you need to perform a few extra steps, which will really make your image sing.

Step 1: The starting image

This city view, taken at dawn, shows a dense smog pollution that’s making it difficult to see the buildings clearly. Choose Filter > Camera Raw, and switch to the Effects section (marked by the letters fx among the section icons on the right).

Step 2: Try out Dehaze

You’ll find the Dehaze slider right at the top of the Effects pane. If you drag it to the left, you can increase the amount of haze, producing a distinctly foggy appearance.

Step 3: Increase the Dehaze amount

Drag the slider all the way to the right, and you’ll remove almost all the fog – but at a cost. If you drag too far, the image will start to look very unnatural.

Step 4: Choose the right setting

You’re after a Dehaze amount that removes most of the haze without making the sky look like it has been painted by a Disney artist. In this case, a value of +68 produced the effect I wanted.

Step 5: Boost the Clarity

Switch to Camera Raw’s Basic settings, and towards the bottom you’ll find the Clarity slider. Drag this to the right to boost the contrast, bringing definition back into the soft image. This does, however, often produce an image that’s too dark.

Step 6: Brighten the Exposure

The darkness is easily fixed: still in the Basic pane, drag the Exposure slider to the right to brighten the whole image. This produces a much more appealing look, while retaining the clarity brought about in the previous step. Press OK to apply the Camera Raw filter.

Step 7: Lose the noise

One problem with the Clarity control is that it tends to accentuate any noise in the image. Rather than just using standard Gaussian Blur, instead choose Filter > Blur > Surface Blur. Here, you have to balance the Radius and the Threshold settings; too low a Threshold, and you’ll still see some noise in the full-size preview.

Step 8: Adjust the settings

By increasing the threshold to, in this case, a value of 6 levels, you can now raise the Radius control until all the blur disappears. The great bonus of the Surface Blur filter is that it blurs flat areas, while leaving hard-edged detail intact.

Step 9: The finished result

Here’s the image after applying all the steps. It’s far more appealing than the washed-out original; and while there’s still noticeable haze in the distant hills, the city itself has been brought sharply into focus.

Check out the video version of this tutorial below, and get a link to download the original artwork at

Posted on: January 29, 2018

Steve Caplin

Steve is a freelance writer, artist and designer, and the author of over a dozen books, including the popular How to Cheat in Photoshop series and the Amazon #1 best-seller Dad Stuff. His training videos can be seen on, Retouch Pro and elsewhere.

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