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What causes this "Haziness" on original RAW or JPEG photographs ?

mvheystmvheyst Member
edited August 2011 in general photography
When I look at newly taken RAW photographs, or original JPEG pictures, the pictures almost always has "a layer of Haziness" over the picture.

Here is a picture showing low and high contrast photographs which clearly indicate the "layer of Haziness" (Photo on the right):
image

I noted I can "remove" this layer of Haziness by:
a) Adjusting the contrast in Photoshop

but also by

b) Adjusting the tone / curves in Photoshop
c) Adjusting the clarity in Photoshop
c) Changing the black point, etc

Therefore the "Layer of Haziness" is removed / altered by not only changing the contrast setting.

Is this "Layer of Haziness" just just caused by contrast?
I have JPEG & RAW pictures (Direct from the camera), with High Contrast Histograms, which has "This layer of Haziness"?

Why does digital photographs have this "Haziness" ?
What is the best method to remove it?
Tagged:

Comments

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    One good way to clear things up, Unsharp Mask.

    Sharp 20%
    Radius 40
    Threshold 0

    or various combos of above. eg: 20/30/0; 30/30/0, etc. etc.

    Build a series of actions into a set.

    Always leave Threshold at 0

    Trev
  • I see what mvheyst is seeing, particularly for photos in daylight (not necessarily hard sun). I'm wondering if my B+W filter is causing the haze.
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    For starters, set up your RAW defaults to bump up the Contrast and Vibrance.

    If your shots ALL look like this ... there are other problems.
    Dirty lens? Poor quality filter on the lens?

    Is this consistent for different lenses?
  • This photo is one from the website you linked to in the "Exposure and Histograms" thread (http://www.scarletuser.com/showthread.php?t=567) and looks like a good photo (on the left) that has had the shadow and highlight output levels adjusted to illustrate low contrast.

    Do you have a photo of your own that you could upload to show the problem?
  • mvheystmvheyst Member
    edited September 2011
    Herewith a photograph showing the problem. I am aware that the Histogram on the original photograph has "low contrast", as the histogram is mainly in the middle.

    Photograph was taken with a D7000 during an overcast day. Diffused light, with no shadows on the ground.

    With this shot I changed the levels & curves in Capture NX2. I changed the left slider from 0 to 25, 50, 75 and 100. It removes the "haziness". (In Capture NX2: Adjust, Light, Levels&curves). Pull the slider to the left and right to see how the "haziness" changes.

    I couldn't upload the original NEF (Nikon) RAW file, because it is larger than 8 MB.

    Original:
    image can be downloaded from here

  • mvheystmvheyst Member
    edited September 2011
    Sharp 20%
    Radius 40
    Threshold 0

    Capture NX2:
    Intensity 20%
    Radius 40
    Threshold 0

    image can be downloaded from here

    Capture NX2: Auto Levels. (Haziness disappears)

    image can be downloaded from here

    Original:

    image can be downloaded from here
  • mvheystmvheyst Member
    edited September 2011
    Here is an original photograph with large contrast.

    image can be downloaded from here
    The "layer of haziness" is lower in this picture (But it is still present in the picture.)



    I can remove / lower the "Haziness" by dragging the left hand "levels & curve" slider in NX:
    Value of 50 (compare with above) used here.
    image can be downloaded from here
    This picture is clearer to me than than the one above.
  • mvheystmvheyst Member
    edited September 2011
    Neil said:

    For starters, set up your RAW defaults to bump up the Contrast and Vibrance.

    * Nothing was done on the "Original files". The RAW file was just converted to JPEG.
    * Bumping up the Contrast & Vibrance improves the problem dramatically; but changing the blackpoint, levels, tone, etc also improved the problem.

    ? Do you mean to " bump up the Contrast and Vibrance" in the RAW converter (like Lightroom, NX2 or Camera RAW) ?

    ? Can you change RAW defaults in the camera to bump up Contrast & Vibrance?

    * JPEG photographs straight from the camera looks much better when the contrast (in camera) is increased, but it still has "the layer of haziness".



    If your shots ALL look like this ... there are other problems.
    Dirty lens? Poor quality filter on the lens?

    * The photographs above were taken with a new and clean lens.
    * Hoya HMC UV(c) Multicoated Filter was used.
    * Removing the filter doesn't solve the problem.



    Is this consistent for different lenses?

    * I have this problem with all my lenses.


    The photographs above are "overdone" to try and show the issue.

    I noted the colours are more saturated, when the "layer of haziness" is removed.
  • mvheystmvheyst Member
    edited September 2011
    Here is a Photograph used to illustrate clarity.

    image

    When the clarity is increased, the "layer of haziness" is also reduced / removed.
    It is almost like removing a dirty layer of glass in front of the picture. The picture is "revealed" when this layer is removed.
    I don't understand how clarity differs from contrast. There is academic definitions for both, but I don't know how to see the difference between clarity and contrast it in a photograph. In photoshop you can change both, but I don't understand the difference.

    To me, a photograph becomes clearer when the contrast is increased (and the haziness is removed).
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Clarity = Local Contrast ... makes the image looks more crisp, but makes people look haggard very quickly.
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    mvheyst said: ? Can you change RAW defaults in the camera to bump up Contrast & Vibrance?
    Yes.
  • AllenAllen Member
    edited September 2011
    Hi. Thank you for up-loading these images.

    Marble floor: The image is evenly lit and doesn’t have a full range of tones and so won’t produce a full-width histogram. The reflectivity of the marble may be causing the hazy appearance which can be corrected easily with an adjustment of the black point. It’s easy to get carried away with adjusting the contrast and black point though; adding a bit more “punch”, thinking it looks better and better with each adjustment until it just doesn’t.

    In my opinion LC 25 looks ok. LC 50 looks ok, but a bit of shadow clipping. LC 75 has too much shadow clipping. LC 100 is a non-starter.

    Glass-fronted building: The sky and top of the umbrella are obviously blown out and the rest is possibly slightly over exposed. If I were adjusting this photo, I would reduce the exposure a bit and increase the saturation of the greens. (In the HSL panel in ACR).

    It’s interesting that you have a preference for the adjusted shot of the marble floor (…LC 75) and the glass-fronted building (…LC 50) because when I opened them in ACR (6.4.1), they both show lots of shadow clipping – too much use of the blacks (levels and curves?) control.

    My gut instinct is that either:
    a. Your monitor needs adjusting or
    b. You need to adjust you RAW converter to produce images that look good to you or
    c. Your taste is very “Rockwellian” (Ken, not Norman).

    P.S. I have a Canon camera and it’s a common complaint amongst Canon users that ACR doesn’t render colours as well as Digital Photo Professional (DPP). Usually because they (we) haven’t adjusted their ACR default settings. The same may apply to Nikon users and their proprietary software. :)
  • For me, it doesn't happen for all photos. It happens more often on sunny days or bright, overcast days. I also probably have to position myself better relative to the sun.

    I notice that after I bump up the contrast in Lightroom or a Nik Color Efex filter, the photos returns to "normal" levels.
  • mvheystmvheyst Member
    edited September 2011
    Neil, Allen & Stephen. Thank you for the feedback.

    Neil: How do you adjust the RAW defaults IN THE CAMERA to bump up contrast and vibrance?

    Allen: I don't know if I am able to express myself correctly. It looks to me if digital photographs has "a layer of haziness" over them. Low contrast images have the same appearance. It looks if there is a "dirty glass" in front of the image. The first picture (of the parrots) shows this to me.

    I can remove this "haziness" by changing the level & curves, but then I create other problems.

    You are correct, I clipped the shadows to get rid of the haziness. Clipping the highlights isn't as effective in removing the "haziness" or low contrast appearance. The more you do it, the more plastically the picture becomes. I don't want to do any clipping, but I don't like the haziness either.

    With the pictures above, I am only trying to illustrate what is bothering me.

    When the pictures are shown on a full screen, you need more adjusting to get rid of the haziness. The effect of the adjustment increases as the pictures get smaller. On my screen LC 75 look the best when the photo is blown up (full screen), but LC 50 looks better to me on this forum (the smaller picture). The "haziness" is better controlled.

    Stephen: The pictures of the marble floor was taken on an overcast day. It appears to me if the problem is less when I have bright light (higher contrast scenes).
  • mvheystmvheyst Member
    edited September 2011
    I tried the following:

    I opened the original file in Capture NX2:

    image can be downloaded from here


    I went to Quick Fix and enabled "Double Threshold" for the Histogram.
    I adjusted the sliders of the histogram. I adjusted the left slider until it just touches the histogram, and I did the same for the right hand slider. I made sure there was no clippings. With the Double Threshold enabled you can actually see the clippings.
    This results in "a perfect Histogram" (If it actually exists):

    Here is the result (picture with "perfect histogram"):

    image can be downloaded from here

    Now I added 20% contrast to the image.
    This is the result:
    image can be downloaded from here

    Adding 20% contrast to a picture with "a Perfect Histogram", actually results in clipping. The Haziness also disappears.
  • mvheystmvheyst Member
    edited September 2011
    I noted the "layer of haziness" on the left hand photograph. I can't see the haziness on the right hand photo. The photo on the right looks clean and open. Note the contrast of the photo on the left was already adjusted to +20:

    image
    Link to the above photograph:
    http://neilvn.com/tangents/2011/06/19/so-i-shot-in-raw-format-now-what/

    Settings in Bridge / ACR :
    imageimage

    It appears if the haziness of this picture was removed by simultaneously adjusting:

    Contrast to +55
    Clarity to +10
    Vibrance to +10
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Hi mvheyst,

    I took your "D7B_9818 original" file and all I did via my contrast action [with mask] was to increase the highlights by 5%, and shadows by 20% then a 'haze' sharpen of 20%, radius 40, threshold 0.

    The image, imo, looks perfect, check histogram, still looks great. [not that any clipping in my opinion is necessarily a bad thing].

    Image 'D7B_9713 original2' image, also same thing, but this time first I ran my 'range' action which dramatically opened the midtones-shadows, protecting highlights, then my contrast action, highlights 0%, shadows 25%, then a sharpening 500%, radius 1.5, threshold 0.

    Once again, levels look good, small clipping on highlights, but that was because the umbrella and the sky were already blown out, but check the shadows, on pillar behind the left hand side of the umbrella, still got a reading in there, not totally black.

    I don't think there is anything particularly wrong with camera, lenses, it's the nature of digital, it tends to have a slightly hazy/foggy look in a lot of cases.

    The contrast I applied is from the action sets here:

    http://neilvn.com/tangents/2011/08/31/photoshop-actions-to-help-with-post-processing-after-raw-conversion/

    Also the 'shadow range' opening up was from there as well.

    Regarding applying the settings as default, you would need to assess a lot of images first so you don't necessarily apply to them then have to change back later on.

    Trev
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Actually I should have said that the images you showed as from camera were merely 'flat' not necessarily hazy, and that they were only lacking in contrast.

    The marble one in particular only represented the midtones in original, and once some contrast, and sharpen added is perfect.

    The very first sample of the parrot was pretty good example, once contrast added is fine. Raws always look 'terrible' sometimes if just imported without any presets applied to them.

    Trev
  • mvheystmvheyst Member
    edited September 2011
    I imported the original file into photoshop and applied the RAW settings as per the photo of the model above, but it didn't look good.

    I realised changing the blacks did the most for the picture. It removed the haziness / flatness of the picture.

    Settings applied:
    Exposure 0
    Recovery 8
    Fill Light 8
    BLACKS 5
    Contrast +55
    Clarity +10
    Vibrance +10
    Saturation +2

    The Histogram with the Blacks 5 didn't start at 0, and it still showed the haziness / flatness / low contrast:

    image can be downloaded from here


    Increasing the Blacks to 30 removed the Haziness. The histogram started at the left at 0. I adjusted the blacks until the histogram started at 0 (left). No clipping of blacks were noted on the histogram. This picture doesn't show the haziness / low contrast / flatness.

    Settings applied:
    Exposure 0
    Recovery 8
    Fill Light 8
    BLACKS 30
    Contrast +55
    Clarity +10
    Vibrance +10
    Saturation +2

    image can be downloaded from here
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Hi mvheyst,

    That last one blacks-30, improved the overall content, but still is flat looking [to me].
    I opened the file, brought up levels and moved the white point to 235 and it gives a much better result. The white part of the marble needs to be brought up closer to your original file to give it that clarification.

    Try it, simply move white point to 235 and notice the difference, since the lighter part from the original needs to have some bearing on the image to give a better contrast.

    That movement of simply 15 levels white tone gives that result.

    I notice the figures you used and am wondering the following.

    Since the image is midtone based, not shadowy or highlighty, there is no need for 'Recovery of 8', that bought your whites down too much, also the use of the Fill Light at 8 as there is no shadows to really open up at all.

    Try some different combos. Leave Fill Light and Recovery to 0, dropping the blacks back a bit also. Since I don't have RAW cannot give specifics, oh, it also depends on the RAW converter you are using, they all give slightly varying results, ACR, LR, Aperture, Capture One, Bibble, DDP, NFX, etc.

    My supplied sample above was from photoshop, not RAW of course and even when finished in RAW some images still need that tweak.

    If I was to be doing it mainly from a RAW converter, I would certainly get it looking best as possible but would Batch Contrast the exported jpegs at 5% using the action as outlined in my above post, to give it that pop.

    Blacks are what give an image that pop to enrich it, but you still need a nice balance of contrast with whites. Just like the TV commercials sprouting TV sets about getting 'richer blacks' to get the desired end result.

    Trev.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Actually, there is a very good way of doing a Levels adjustment using Auto Levels, **but** you need to change the way it does this. [See image]

    Open Levels Dialogue Box
    Click on 'Options'
    In the new box, it's important to change from the default of 'Enhance Per Channel Contrast' to 'Enhance Monochromatic Contrast' you do not want to be changing colours. Since contrast is purely light & dark [Shadows/Highlights] to affect an image you don't need the colour channels themselves being affected.

    Now, the other thing you need to change is the default clipping of 0.10, way too much, to 0.01 for both, depends on images. I prefer to have them both 0.01, but in this instance I left the shadows at 0.00 since I did not want to bring any more blacks in.

    Now, the best part is you click 'Save as Defaults' and the next time you bring up levels, and click 'Auto' it will use those settings, no colour change, just a nice contrast.

    image

    Of course using Auto on all images is not the way to go, since a lot of them will already have Blacks/Whites at the endpoints and you will probably not notice a change at all, but in this instance, there is a change since the whites were way under from original image.

    Trev.
  • mvheystmvheyst Member
    edited September 2011
    Hi Trev.

    Thanks.

    I emailed the original file to you.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Hi mvheyst,

    Sent.

    I shall have a look mate, but more than likely it may still need a further tweak in PS, see what happens. I normally run my files from RAW correcting White Balance and Exposure only, leaving a flat file, but with all the important information in it, since I then run a batch action which does a hell of a lot of things, and simply clicking on different things can change them instantly.

    Once they are exported, I auto load each image which auto runs my action and I can then 'fix' it further, then using a simple 'hot key' it will flatten and save to my finished folder, bypassing all the effort of flatening, save as, navigating to the folder and OKing it. 40 seconds normally finished, then it autoloads the next image, brilliant.

    Of course, once opened, if the image is fine and 50% of time is, simply hitting 'delete', deletes that action just run, then hitting the hot key, image is saved in the finished folder, less than 5 seconds.

    Autoloader [thanks to Lou, 'Matrixphoto' for telling me about this, coolest thing since sliced bread]
    http://www.photoshoptools.ca/autoloader/

    Trev
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited September 2011
    Got it thanks,

    Done. All in ACR.

    I did not change it in PS. Shall send back.

    WB: 4750 / +7
    Exposure: 0.0
    Recovery: 0
    Fill Light: 0
    Blacks: 30
    Brightness: +70
    Contrast: +40
    Clarity: +20

    Parametric Tone Curve: Medium Contrast

    Detail-sharpening
    Sharpen 100
    Radius 1.5
    Detail 0
    Mask 0

    Lens Correction
    I checked that, it says you used a Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 EX. [by clicking Lens Correction that make any curvature straighten].

    Camera Calibration
    Process: 2010(Current)
    Camera Profile:
    Now this by default goes to Adobe Standard, I find you get a better result choosing 'Camera Standard'

    These figures are purely to obtain a clear image, with no colour enhancing.

    Trev.

    EDIT: I have also sent 2nd one back with just one change. Camera Profile now set to Camera Vivid, that make colours pop.

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited September 2011
    Open the RAWs, now export them to jpeg, open up levels and you will see a nice range, I think it now is a good result, not so flat.

    But if the normal ADJ one was mine I would still run an auto levels on that one.

    The one with ADJ copy file name which was the Camera Vivid profile, is pretty good as is.

    Trev.
  • mvheystmvheyst Member
    edited September 2011
    Hi Trev

    Will you please post the picture (with the settings you described) below the text relevant to it ?

    You need to press on the "insert picture" button. It shows the picture in the text. It make direct comparison easy.
  • mvheystmvheyst Member
    edited September 2011
    Original RAW file:

    Exposure 0
    Recovery 0
    Fill Light 0
    Blacks 0
    Brightness 0
    Contrast 0
    Clarity 0
    Vibrance 0
    Saturation 0

    image can be downloaded from here

    It appears to me if changing the blacks get rid of the Haziness / Low contrast / flat image which bothered me, but the picture was dark.


    Exposure 0
    Recovery 0
    Fill Light 0
    Blacks +30
    Brightness 0
    Contrast 0
    Clarity 0
    Vibrance 0
    Saturation 0

    image can be downloaded from here


    Adding contrast, clarity & vibrance:

    EXPOSURE 0
    Recovery 0
    Fill Light 0
    Blacks 30
    Brightness 0
    Contrast +30
    Clarity +10
    Vibrance +10
    Saturation 0


    image can be downloaded from here


    Increasing the exposure from 0 to +1 made the picture brighter, without blowing the highlights. Here is the results:

    EXPOSURE +1
    Recovery 0
    Fill Light 0
    Blacks 30
    Brightness 0
    Contrast +30
    Clarity +10
    Vibrance +10
    Saturation 0


    image can be downloaded from here

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited September 2011
    Deleted post with image comparisons so I could insert per M's request.

    First is:
    WB: 4750 / +7
    Exposure: 0.0
    Recovery: 0
    Fill Light: 0
    Blacks: 30
    Brightness: +70
    Contrast: +40
    Clarity: +20

    Parametric Tone Curve: Medium Contrast

    Detail-sharpening
    Sharpen 100
    Radius 1.5
    Detail 0
    Mask 0

    Camera Calibration
    Process: 2010(Current)
    Camera Profile: 'Camera Standard'

    image can be downloaded from here



    Next, same settings from ACR but only difference is the Camera Profile in ACR, from Camera Standard to 'Camera Vivid'

    image can be downloaded from here

    Trev.
  • mvheystmvheyst Member
    edited September 2011
    I can no longer see the pictures posted, only a link "image can be downloaded here". It makes it difficult for readers to compare the images. I noted it takes some time for the pictures to resize properly after they are posted. You may need to refresh your browser.

    I also noted when others are posting images on the same link, you get problems with the picture size. It rectifies itself.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Hi mvheyst,

    Neil was apparently having trouble with resolving the page with so many bigger images and had resort to a downloadable linking system, as the auto resizer was missing images and he had to keep doing it manually, so I think this is how it will be from now on.

    Trev.
  • mvheystmvheyst Member
    edited September 2011
    My conclusion:

    It is difficult to express myself correctly here, but I will try:

    I noted a "haziness" on many good pictures. Look at the flowers on the women's dress (Neil's picture on the left above). It looks if there is a "dirty layer" or "haziness" over the flowers on the dress. The haziness is removed from the picture on the right.

    The picture of the parrots above, show the haziness more clearly. The problem is much worse.

    I don't blame the monitor because you can clearly see a difference on the same monitor. (Good vs bad picture)

    I called this problem Haziness, but you may call it flat looking, low contrasty. I don't know what else to call it.

    Note the Histogram of the Hazy parrots. It has a typical "low contrast" appearance. All the bars are concentrated in the middle. The contrasty picture on the left has a more even spread of bars, from left (shadows) to right (highlights).

    I learned from the above, that the picture becomes clearer (less hazy), when the shadow section of the histogram is moved towards the left. You can move it until you get clipping of the blacks.

    By increasing the blacks in Photoshop (RAW converter), the histogram moves to the left. This resulted in the picture becoming clearer / less hazy. I noted "increasing the blacks" is "more effective" than "increasing the contrast".

    When a picture has a "perfect histogram" (blacks starting at the left with no clipping), and you add contrast, you get some clippings of the blacks / or movement of the histogram to the left. This increased the clarity / reduces the haziness.

    Adding additional brightness, saturation, etc. increases the overall appearance of the final picture.
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    edited September 2011
    mvheyst said: I can no longer see the pictures posted, only a link "image can be downloaded here". It makes it difficult for readers to compare the images. I noted it takes some time for the pictures to resize properly after they are posted. You may need to refresh your browser.
    The full size images didn't always resize to the browser width, so I manually edited the links because the full-size images are SO MASSIVELY HUGE that it is impossible to see what they are .. unless you download them and view them.

    So in order to make this thread view-able and navigate-able (new words!), I manually added the links. This is how it is. Unless you want to resize the images to a more manageable size yourself, before uploading them. That would help.
  • mvheystmvheyst Member
    edited September 2011
    I just want to mention the following:

    In Capture NX2, I used the horizontal slider under the Histogram in "Quick Fix". There is 3 little triangles under the Histogram. Moving the slider on the left, darkens the shadow.

    The wording "Darken the shadows of the current channel" appears when your mouse is over the arrow.

    Darkening the shadows removed the Haziness that bothered me, especially on "low contrast" photographs. (Photoshop uses a default clipping of the shadows of +5 when RAW files are converted.)

    "Double threshold" above the Histogram at the bottom, shows clipings of highlights and / or shadows.
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