Working with fog images in post

This short article discusses some potential approaches that can be considered when working with fog images in post. Obviously each photographer has their own, unique creative vision that they bring to their work. How a photographer chooses to process their images in post is one of the ways that each of us brings our creative vision to life.

Yesterday I went out early in the morning to capture some images of a fog shrouded harbour. This piece features a couple of images from that original article as well as the corresponding out-of-camera jpegs. The objective of this article is to discuss, in general terms, how I chose to approach the post processing of these selected fog images.

The intent of this article is not to recommend any particular software program over another. I appreciate that there are many choices of photographic software available today. Most of these software programs are capable of making similar adjustments, and creating similar results. Any mention of a particular adjustment used is done only as a point of reference.

Let’s look at the first pair of photographs. As could be expected when shooting in fog at 6:10 AM, the resulting image was dark and  lacked definition. The colours were quite lifeless and flat.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Out-of-camera jpeg
Image processed from RAW file

As you can see I decided to significantly lighten the photograph and bring out much more of the details in the foreground. I also wanted to bring a lot more life to the photograph by making the colours pop.

To accomplish this I used the ClearView function in OpticsPro 11, and also increased the overall saturation in the image. I used the Spot Weighted adjustment in DxO Smart Lighting which helped bring out shadow details.

Using the ‘Curves’ function in CS6 allowed me to experiment further by adjusting tones to brighten/darken the image, add contrast, and shift colours. Adjustments were also done with the black and white sliders in CS6 to add a bit more ‘punch’. Some minor adjustments with Levels and Brightness in CS6 were also done.

Out-of-camera jpeg
Image processed from RAW file

The out-of-camera jpeg above indicates the same challenges as seen in the first example – a dark, flat and lifeless looking image. An added challenge was the tree trunk, used as a corner anchor on the right hand side of the image. I wanted to bring out a lot of the character in the bark. Another concern in the image was how soft and undefined the branches and foliage of the tree in the background appeared.

I decided to use contrast types of adjustments to enhance edge acuity. Depending on your software program these are adjustments such as clarity, structure, contrast, micro-contrast etc.  I was fairly aggressive with the shadow, highlight, black, and white sliders in CS6, to give the bark the look I wanted.

As with the first example, ClearView, Curves, and Saturation were all used. I also found it was very helpful to use the Spot Weighted adjustment in DxO Smart Lighting on the bark of the tree to bring out shadow details. Some final tweaks with Brightness and Levels were also done.

When dealing with fog images in post my goal is typically to bring out more definition and colour, while balancing that with the moody overtone that fog creates in a photograph.

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4 thoughts on “Working with fog images in post”

  1. Wonderful editing work. Sometimes I see a photo that I like on the web and think, “I wish they had the editing skills of Thomas Stirr, as I know that with a little editing this photo could be so much better”.

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