View Full Version : Post Processing Haze in aerial photos

01-29-2014, 12:36 PM
If you're like me, haze ruins (or at least seriously distracts) from a lot of your aerial photos. My sense is the problem is worse on the east cost than it is out west. Today is a "snow day" and I decided to see what I could do to improve my haze busting skills before pounding rivets.

I'm using Photoshop ver. 12. Here's the photo I started with. I shot it late last summer departing Okracoke Island, NC. It's typical of the haze we have to live with here. If anything, its a bit less hazy than average.


I've seen where people recommend using Levels to get rid of haze but my observation is it leaves the photo with too much contrast and color saturation. What I did was to move the outside sliders under the histogram in to just encompass the histogram and then I slide the center slider to the right to get the balance I thought was best. It's better, but it doesn't look right. Here's what I mean.


The water is unnaturally green, and if you look, the whole photo has a green cast and it's pretty contrasty.

For a long time this was the best I could do. That is until I discovered Levels doesn't have to affect the RGB channels equally. In the Levels box the default is to adjust the red, green, and blue channels together. But, if you click on RGB you can adjust them individually and that helps more. Here's what I mean.


What I did was basically the same thing as for RGB Levels together. I moved the outer pointers to just cover the histogram, then I adjusted the balance to suit my eye. The water is still a bit green and the contrast is too high.

To fix the water, I used the select tool and selected the water and the sky and went through the RGB levels individually to get these as close to natural as I could. I need to improve the way I feather this edge as I have some artifacts right on the edge of the water and land that are not right. Still the water looks better.


Over-all the picture is a bit high in contrast so I used the brightness-contrast adjustment and got something that's a whole lot better than what I started with. It isn't publication quality (imo) but it sure is a lot more interesting to look at than the raw photo and I think it represents a better view of what my mind remembers seeing, too. Here's the final picture.


01-29-2014, 12:51 PM
Nice work Don - I wish I had the time to learn to do that stuff...but I've got people to do it these days.... ;)

01-29-2014, 12:56 PM
I'm green with envy of your ability to make these changes. I'm so damned colorblind I don't dare mess with RGB levels in Photoshop. And I'm an avid photographer, too. It's a bummer.

(BTW, my colorblindness was reconfirmed during my aviation medical yesterday. Couldn't see any numbers in the colored dot patterns. Fortunately, I passed the light gun test years ago and have a statement of demonstrated ability.)

Low Pass
01-29-2014, 01:14 PM
I like "Enhance", "Auto Smart Fix". Then "Adjust Smart Fix" after that for a little follow up.

I'm sure there's a manual method for this, but these auto controls work really well for me.

But back to the original photo capture. Ever try a circular polarizer? Takes a lot of that stuff out at the camera.

Couldn't resist - here's your original pic with the steps I just mentioned. Saturation needs to be dropped a little.


01-29-2014, 01:21 PM

Jerry Cochran
01-29-2014, 01:45 PM
Way back in the early 60's I was an Army photog and for black and white we almost always used a haze filter for aerials out of a Bird Dog and sometimes on the ground also. I am sure good ones are available so maybe Google can find you one...HTH...