The latest versions of Lightroom include a new slider in the Effects tab called Dehaze. It’s a useful tool for cutting through hazy pictures and revealing the landscape. It seems to work by adding contrast and you slide it to the right. It’s different from Clarity because it doesn’t affect details, and you have to keep an eye on it because it may add a blue color cast to the picture.
This Dehaze slider also goes to the left. Used on landscapes, it can add a sense of fog to a picture, but it’s a terrific tool for gently touching up a portrait.
Reduce Contrast, reduce wrinkles
Sliding to the left seems to reduce contrast in the shadows, making the dark areas lighter. This is a good tool for portraits, then, because it reduces the impact and appearance of wrinkles and creases, but it doesn’t remove them. That’s important because skin lines actually help identify a person’s face and removing them completely makes a picture look retouched.
Used globally, this reduces the deepness of shadows overall. Be careful that you don’t go too far because it’ll turn a black suit gray if you’re not careful.
More finesse with the Radial Filter
For more finesse, use the Radial Filter positioned over the face only and adjust the Dehaze slider to the left. This lets you keep the deeper colors in the clothing and background but still soften the edges of the shadows on the face.
Throw caution to the wind
I know I said to go easy with it on a headshot, but if you crank the slider to the left pretty far, it gives the whole photo a kind of glow and softness. This is superior to using negative Clarity because that has a trademark look that is really hard to see beyond. Dehaze simply gives the foggy look of old film or foggy negatives. Combine it with a vignette, and maybe some split toning, and you’ve got a recipe for a kitschy finish that’s ready for Instagram.
Just because a tool is labeled one way doesn’t mean you must use it that way. Use Dehaze to add a little haze to a portrait and you may like the effect. I find myself using a little haze as a final step, even after all my other portrait finishing tools. Give it a try and see if it fits your style.