The Magic Frame: Battling Haze

RajivMFSquare_1

SmogTaj_0234

One of the biggest challenges that we face when doing outdoor photography in India, is that of haze. When I go up into the hills, then I do so after the monsoon rains, in order to get clear skies.

In May and June, for instance, the dust from the plains rises and creates a haze that is not that great for landscape photography. Post monsoons, the skies are clear and wonderful.

Going to riverside towns during the rains can be a fantastic experience. The monsoon clouds, and relatively clear skies can give rise to some unforgettable opportunities. For the rest of the time, we do our best to make a mess of the skies by polluting them, and this adds to the photographic challenge.

We can try to deepen the hue of the skies, by using circular polarising filters, but they cannot remove the haze.

I took the above photograph of the Taj, during the late hours of the morning, from the Red Fort of Agra, which is situated across what is left of the once mighty Yamuna River.

The photograph has been edited using Capture One Nine, and then taken into Photoshop. While it has done a good job of cleaning up the haze, there is a bit of haziness, and some vignetting.

I also used the Haze Reduction slider in Lightroom, to see how this compares. When using the Haze reduction slider, as in all things, you need to tread lightly.

Screenshot 2016-03-10 21.43.50

I cannot find the other screen shot that I took, so you have to live with this one. In this one, I pushed the DeHaze slider to a level of 72. As you can see, a few things have happened:

  1. There is extreme vignetting
  2. The colours have become rather strange
  3. There is clipping at the black end of the scale

So, while indeed, it is tempting to push the DeHaze slider, you do need to tread carefully and lightly.

In the case of the Taj, the processing that I did with Capture One Nine was much more pleasing than the one I did with Lightroom. However, when I have used the DeHaze slider for processing some cityscapes, I have got some very nice results.

Which RAW processor should you use? Well, I shan’t go into that one yet. There is no clear answer anyway. However, as you can see, haze can be troublesome.

Most of these programmes, I am guessing, have been calibrated using haze levels in the USA or Europe. You have much less haze there.

We, in Asia, will continue to have a problem!

 

 

13 Comments

  1. Love how you analyze, observe and deliver technical stuff of which I have no clue, never had any training what so ever in photography or how to process it, so this is most interesting to me. Thanks for the insides! Love the Taj , absolutely breathtaking and all for ones love!

    1. You make me blush again. When it comes to LR/ PS and Capture One, I consider myself to be at the absolute start of the learning curve.
      Have you seen the Taj in person?

      1. If you’re at the start I guess I haven’t been born yet under section photographer hehe…
        Unfortunately not, but I have seen many documentaries on it and read about it and if I win the lottery I have a mighty long list to catch up with!
        Have a great weekend!

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