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How to remove fog from a photo in Photoshop

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Category: Adobe Photoshop

Improve shots taken in foggy conditions - A Photoshop tutorial on improving foggy shots.

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There are times when fog/mist can help your image but sometimes it just gets in the way, hiding the scene you're trying to show from view. If you have a shot which has detail hidden that you'd like to bring into view, there's an easy way in Photoshop we can remove the fog and make objects more detailed and distinct.

Tree hidden by fog Foggy landscape shot

 

Step 1: Duplicate layer

As we don't want to do any destructive editing, make sure you duplicate your layer (Layer>Duplicate Layer) and rename it.
 

Quick Selection ToolStep 2: Selection

If your foreground detail is out of the fog and it's the background you want to clear up you'll need to do a simple selection so the foreground stays as is. The Quick Selection Tool is the best way to select the foreground. Simple Click and drag over the area you don't want the changes applied to then go to Select>Inverse so when you follow the next steps, the changes will only be applied to the background.

If it's foreground detail you want to bring out of the fog, you don't need to do this first step.
 

Step 3: Exposure correction

To pull the foreground or background out of the fog you'll need to adjust the exposure. To do this go to Image>Adjustment>Levels. Look to the right of the histogram and you'll see there's a large gap between where the graph ends and the white slider sits. Drag the slider in towards the end of the histogram until the object you can't see becomes more visible. You can do the same with the black slider but be careful how far you drag it as it can darken the image too much. Once you're happy click OK.

Adjusting levels
Adjusting levels

Step 4: Unsharp mask

Next we are going to give the scene even more detail. To do this go to: Filter>Sharpen>Unsharp Mask. Don't over-do the Amount, 100% was fine for our image, and keep the Threshold and Radius figures low. Then Click OK.

Unsharp mask

Step 5: Up the contrast

The shot still looks a little too foggy so we are going to up the contrast by going to: Image>Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast. Pull the contrast slider to the right, we moved ours to 80. You may also want to adjust the brightness but this is down to personal taste. Remember you can always move the sliders around and re-set them if you don't like it. Once happy, click OK.
Contrast adjustment

When you've adjusted the contrast your image is complete. Take a look at the finished images:

 
Scene with fog removed
 Scene with fog removed

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