Saturday, August 1, 2009

Morning Ground Fog

One of my favourite shooting conditions is foggy weather. Winter being especially nice with its white bleakness and it’s ability to isolate and create soulful subjects. An article on Winter Fog – Great Photography Weather

Living in a mixed hardwood and evergreen forest geography and not near the ocean, these infrequent foggy mornings become like a special filter that can remove close by clutter. Clutter being all the other green stuff that is not part of your main focus.

We often use DOF to accomplish this effect, but a natural wide-open lens is even better.

The 3 images shown below are from photographs taken about an hour after sunrise when there was still ground fog from the cool humid night.

The photographs are all taken from a small area of about 100 ft by 100ft in the fields behind my house and I probably only differed about 50 ft between all shots.

In ACR set clarity to 80% to increase contrast in fog contrast. Added new layer from ACR and set luminance and saturation higher for yellow and opposite for green and added a slight contrast curve. Set this new layer to colour burn at 25%. Added curve layer to increase contrast. Then added solid yellow ochre colour and set this to hue to soften the colour effects from the other 2 changes.

By using the coloured layers as overlays in Photoshop and channel mixer adjustments in ACR RAW subtle colour effects can be achieved.

The one thought that came into my mind while writing this article was that, I need to map out and visit other areas when these sparse gifts arrive. Field grass fog is a special type as it hangs a few feet above the tall grasses and then only rises I would guess from 5 to 20 feet in height.

In ACR set clarity to 64, vibrance to 46. Increase sat for orange and reduce for green for more golden glow. Reduce luminance for green to –75 to darken core of evergreens.
I copied the background layer twice. One set to overlay at 25% and the 2nd to multiply at 20%.

Because of the shallow depth of the fog and its wispiness, the sun can more easily penetrate and with the aid of the taller tree tops not in fog create striking rays of sunbeams.

The effects I wanted to achieve were to be able to tone the sunbeams and shadows differently. In Photoshop the blend-if sliders perform this function by being able to set both the knee (start transition) and slope (trail-off in effect of change). The last part is very important as like any masked type effect, sharp transitions create disconnected edges. That is why most masks have the edges slightly blurred to overcome any edge focus softness from the camera.

In the above image I used several layered tones, to warm sunlit areas and cool shadows without the use of masks except for the post, which was easy to isolate. The use Blend-if sliders with a gradient drop-off accomplishes this perfectly. It is best shown in the image below.

All the effects are meant to be subtle. Just to lightly influence our perception of the moment captured by the camera.

It has been now confirmed that July in Ottawa was the wettest in recorded history. Which means it rained all the time but it has almost always been with heavy clouds. Because of this, I have been able to enjoy one of my favourite summer pastimes. This is sitting in a comfortable outdoor chair, reading a book, while listening to the rain gently fall on the awning top.

Niels Henriksen


Adam Cope said...

cool but somewhat spooky.

photography becomes like painting?

what about some scratches like Julia Cameron?

nielsp said...

Thanks Adam for your comments.

In the first image I wanted the core of the evergreens to match in tone and hue to the background to help with the effect of the silhouettes almost appearing a ghost like image from some forgotten spooky B-movie.

I haven’t played much around with overlays but in the first image I agree that it might help to accentuate the feeling.

Thanks for the suggestion about Julia Cameron.


Anita Jesse said...

These are beautiful and fascinating photographs. Yet, another of your exellent instructional articles. I definitely will be trying some of these techniques. Excellent.

retouching said...

This is absolutely beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

photoshop restoration and retouching


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