DXO Smart Lighting and Clearview - you probably need these tools

I have to start this post with a "thank-you" to Mr. Thomas Stirr who writes for the most excellent Photography Life website.  Thomas recently posted his experiences using a function in DXO Optics 10 called Clearview.  I seriously kicked myself.  You see, I have hundreds of photos shot on September 1st from a helicopter and on top of a cliffside at the Grand Canyon.  The shots were nice enough, I guess, but atmospheric haze and brutal haze from the direct sun on the Eurocopter windshield made the images, well, head to the not for future use bin. Stupid I know.  I should have known better.  I have been a DXO customer since DXO Optics 7.  DXO does, in my opinion, the best RAW converters out there, and they lead in lens correction software.  Heck, every serious analyzing reviewer uses DXOmark software to check out sensors and lenses.  They make great products, DXO Optics 10, a terrific correction and basic editor that includes their incredible RAW converter, DXO Viewpoint, an amazing tool for straightening perspective distortions like buildings falling over or bent lines that should not be bent, and DXO Filmpack, a series of film emulation tools that look like the real film would.  As a former Kodachrome junkie, I like their Kodachrome look best.

Anyway.  What Mr. Stirr reminded me is that DXO Optics 10 incorporates this technology to remove haze without wrecking the image.  This functionality is call Clearview and it is absolutely wonderful when you need it.  There is a second technology that I also love in DXO Optics 10 called Smart Lighting.  Think of this as HDR without the hassle although I fear I am selling it very short.

So after reading Mr. Stirr's post (you can read it here and you probably should), I fired up Lightroom and went to my Grand Canyon collection.  I waded through some images and found some that were horrible, some that weren't bad, and one that I had shot for HDR.  I did the HDR conversion of the one set in HDR Efex Pro 2. I then opened the RAWs and the one HDR TIF in DXO Optics Elite 10.  The Canon CR2 files and the one TIF opened fine.  All I did in DXO Optics Elite 10 was check the default setting for Smart Lighting, and enable Clearview.  Then I sent the files back to Lightroom, the RAWs as DNGs and the TIF as a TIF.  I did some dust removal in Photoshop (ok I did a LOT of dust removal - note to self about changing lenses in the desert) and some very rudimentary editing using Lightroom native tools.  I avoided my usual dodge and burn steps, so I restricted myself to Lightroom sliders and then the common pre export steps of Nik Output Sharpener Pro for all images and Nik Dfine for the HDR because, well because there was too much noise in the sky to suit me.

What you see here, are the before and after images.  While the images shot from inside the helicopter really hit you hard with what DXO Clearview and DXo Smart Lighting can do, even the unencumbered images are better for the haze killing capability.

I am not sponsored by, nor an Affiliate for, DXO software.  I paid for all the software out of my own pocket.  Take a look, you can see why.

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