Controlling Haze & Fog

As a landscape photographer you can mostly control the places you photograph, the time of day, and season, but that’s about it. You can’t control weather, air pollution, and many other factors. Haze in the air, causing atmospheric distortion, is a common problem and a tough one. Particulate in the air, whether from smoke, pollen, pollution or water vapor, creates haze. The amount of haze increases the farther away the subject is and can create layers of haze. There are a few tools to help reduce haze when you’re shooting, like UV/Haze filters and Polarizers. Often times they only provide a little help. With software, you can increase the contrast to help cut through the haze but it can negatively impact the darker tones if you’re not careful. A few software providers have developed special controls for reducing haze.

With ON1 Photo RAW, we are developing a dedicated control with new algorithms to help photographers control haze and fog. You will be able to reduce haze and also reduce or enhance fog for a dreamier look. As we work on this algorithm and compare it to other methods and talk to photographers we have come to a quandary.

When used conservatively these methods can be subtle and helpful. However, when used at high settings they create over saturated colors in areas that had little color to start.  This overly strong look is reminiscent of an over-processed HDR look (popular a few years ago). This look can make some photographers cringe while others approve of it. Back to the quandary, we are trying to determine how strong to allow this control to be and if we should increase the saturation like other products, or take a more conservative approach that affects color less. I would love to hear your thoughts on this and your experience when reducing haze. Just add a comment below and this will be a great way to communicate what you want.

I’ve also prepared a few samples below and am very interested in getting your feedback. Each set contains the original photo and several options to compare. Please pick your favorite for each set.

– Dan

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