I don't really know how to explain it, but I guess the photos speak for themselves.

What can I do to stop it from happening? I'm more trying to capture nice memories than take amazing photos, but the photos turns out so bad I don't even wanna look at them.

It doesn't seem to matter if it's from a cloudy or sunny day or where the sun is in relation to the camera. I have a lot more examples I could show, but I'm limited to upload two.

I'm gonna be honest and admit I use the auto or landscape options on my camera, and don't do any manual stuff, though I'm planning on learning how to do it.

My camera is a nikon D90.

Is there anything I can do to save the photos I already have with the help of Photoshop?


bay road

  • \$\begingroup\$ Please post the original image files from the camera somewhere, rather than rendered JPEGs. If you are taking raw files (*.nef)instead of JPEGs, post that instead. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 16, 2015 at 3:08
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Adobe Camera Raw 9.1 / Lightroom CC implement a dehaze algorithm now: blogs.adobe.com/jkost/2015/06/… \$\endgroup\$
    – Kel Solaar
    Aug 16, 2015 at 5:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you carrying the camera around in the air conditioned passenger compartment of your car, then taking the photos shortly after getting out of the cool, dry air of the car into the much hotter air outside? \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Aug 16, 2015 at 6:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are these images taken through the glass of your car? What is the lens? Do you use any protective filters? Do you manipulate the images in any way after loading off the memory card? \$\endgroup\$
    – MirekE
    Nov 8, 2016 at 0:20

5 Answers 5


Seems to me like you are dealing with atmospheric conditions that limit absolute image quality. The closer objects(what little exist) in your images look just fine. Do you have any images with subjects that are less than 100ft away primarily? I am also wondering about the surface temperature when these were shot, it may simply be too hot for sharp images.

Lots more in this existing question: How to maximise contrast range of distant landscapes with blue haze?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think it's entirely about haze. That's why I was trying to get her to show her raw files. I think we're going to find something like +2 EC in the EXIF data. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 16, 2015 at 6:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with Warren, and I marked this down because I've never had an issue with sharp images even in extreme heat of Death Valley on a Canon 5Dsr which has tiny little itty bitty packed sensors. \$\endgroup\$
    – cliffclof
    Nov 9, 2016 at 1:04

Your exposure is too high as Warren Young suggested. You will need to check your camera and learn its settings to make an exposure you are happier with. In your case, if you took these photos with RAW enabled, also as Warren Young suggested, then you have loads of latitude to fix these photos because there isn't too much extreme contrast in them to begin with. The question still remains if you will be happy with them. I suggest you get familiar with Lightroom if you already use Photoshop. The tools are much easier to edit photo color/contrast in Lightroom, especially accross multiple images as you can sync your corrections from one image to the next. Adobe has video tutorials you can get a jump start with on their website.

This is what i did to make the images attached:

  • Lowered Exposure by nearly 1.5 EV
  • The color temperature was fine, didn't do too much
  • i increased the contrast a bit by +10
  • added +30 clarity (this adds contrast to the middle histogram to sharpen things up)
  • added +20 - 30 Vibrance to pull the colors out of the washed out overexposure.
  • then slightly modified the hue and saturation of individual blues and oranges to recover the color from overexposure.

The result will be worth saving the photos for sure, especially if you have the RAWs. enter image description here enter image description here

Some additional things that will help you gain clarity and contrast in a properly exposed image.

  • a UV filter attached to the lens OR
  • a polorizing filter attached to the lens
  • taking photos before roughtly 10AM and after 3PM to get more contrast
  • shooting in RAW as mentioned and 'recovering' detail
  • using a higher quality lens that is often times more expensive. This can increase the quality of light that reaches the sensor/film and offer a more clear representation of the scene.
  • shooting after rain or a weather/seasonal event that clears the scene of haze.
  • experience, just simply keep on shooting and changing the settings. Don't get discouraged and don't be afraid to take too many photos. take them in Manual mode and rip the settings all over the place, then look at them when you get home and see what you like best.

This question hit home with me particularly because i felt the exact same as you do now when i first started taking RAW photos, and i too didn't understand why i spent money on good equipment to get such bland photos. Just stick with it and keep developing.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Could you explain how a UV filter on the lens will improve the image on the D90, a digital camera with an internal UV filter? \$\endgroup\$
    – Philip Kendall
    Nov 8, 2016 at 7:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sure! A UV filter doesn't do much at all, but what it does do will be fixing the light before it goes through the lens, rather than after. Fair? (I didn't research this, can someone verify?) \$\endgroup\$
    – cliffclof
    Nov 9, 2016 at 0:49

The basic problem is atmospheric haze, which results in elevated black level of distant objects. For example, here is your first picture as you show it:

Here it is simply with the darkest part made black and the lightest white:

That's already better, but here the problem is that the darkest area was in the foreground. The foreground therefore looks well adjusted for, but the atmospheric haze still makes the background look washed out.

The best way to deal with that is selective masking and applying different adjustments to different parts of the picture. In this case I'd at minimum use different masks for the foreground rock, and the much more distant background behind it.

That's more work than I want to do here now. However, here is the black and white levels adjusted for the near part of the background at right:

Since I didn't do any masking this is also applied to the foreground, which now looks unnatural. It also points out a problem with haze and large distance ratio, which is that you can only correct for the haze at one distance.

The haze is "cancelled" at the hill at right, but is now even more obvious for the more distant parts. This is a real problem with haze.

Even basic and "free" corrections work on your second picture. Here is your original:

And here it is with the darkest part black and lightest part white:

As expected, the foreground looks un-hazed, but the background is still hazy. That's because it is hazy. Some haze actually helps to show depth. You can bring the overall black level down some more. Without masking, this trades off making the foreground look unnatural while making the background less hazy. Here is one such tradeoff that's not too bad (in my opinion):


The top one looks like atmospheric conditions, as the previous response noted.

There are a few edits you can make. (Please note that I'm assuming there was very little, if any, work done in Photoshop.)

  1. Take pictures in RAW format. I can't tell if these are RAW or not, but they look like they could be and lack any editing.
  2. Open your images in the Adobe Raw Converter (even if they're in JPEG). In the ARC, pull the highlights as far right of the histogram as you can without clipping. Do the same with the shadows toward the left.
  3. Increase the saturation. If shooting RAW, you may want to go up to ~20.
  4. Increase contrast. This is purely a matter of style, but most people like the appearance of contrast.
  5. Increase Clarity. This is one of the coolest adjustments you can make in ARC and it'll help get rid of that foggy appearance.
  6. Sharpen! Adobe will default to something low; most likely you'll want to increase the sharpening from the starting point.
  7. Open your picture in the Photoshop/Elements work space. The sky is the limit here, and it also depends on what you have. If you still think your picture needs a little punch, try adjusting the Curves and make it into a slight "S" shape.

I would recommend some PS tutorials. Rest assured most people have the same issue you're having and get over the hump at some point or another. Best of luck!


I've suffered the same problems in the past and from time to time still get the occasional milky photo.

As @cliffclof stated, a polarising filter will most definitely reduce this effect. But it will also darken your shot a little bit, so you'll need to compensate for that with shutter speed or aperture. If you're aiming to get a big DOF to keep everything in focus, you'll want to work primarily by adjusting the shutter speed whilst your f stop is as high as you can get it, but at wider angles (sub 24mm) you will start to notice full depth sharpness starting around f9. This is just a general example of such, and the actual settings will vary from lens to lens.

Sometimes, I quite like a bit of haze in some of my darker shots to give a little bit of dreamy emotion to them. I usually add this by using the dehaze slider in LR. You can get the opposite effect by sliding it in the positive range, but use carefully as it can give an unnatural look and feel to your photos.

Time of day is a HUGE factor. If you really want to shoot in midday sun, you're definitely going to want to use a polarising filter and perhaps an ND filter to cut the power of the sun down a bit. You can combine filters to bring the exposure down several stops. Again, this varies by lens, camera, filters, and whether or not you're shooting on crop sensor or full frame, but (I think?) you're on crop sensor so that's a bit more forgiving for sunlight as the sensor is smaller. The same reason why full frame is better for low-light.

I'm trying to think of other things that will help.

Oh! Make sure you experiment shooting somewhere you're not emotionally attached to or isn't a memorable occasion such as a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. That way you are able to delete the duds with a bit of prejudice, and not be bummed out when you bring them into LR.

Your camera likely has a histogram that will give you the colour info for each shot. Use this when you're shooting. Use it a lot. The histogram will reveal to you the dynamic range of the photo. There are plenty of sweet spots depending on the conditions and lighting, but a desirable acceptable range will have all colours in a sort of squared-off mound, with neither side touching the edges of the histogram. In short, that will help you learn how to achieve a flat dynamic range which will allow for the most flexibility in colour correcting/grading. EDIT For an example of the shape you want to look for in your histogram, the big red rock in the middle of Australia - Uluru - is a good example.

Most of all, have fun!


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