Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Removing The Sunny Day Haze

Nothing like a bright sunny day to get you outside, especially come spring time when the daylight hours begin to last longer and the cold chill of winter starts its slow retreat to make way for the long awaited summer warmth.

While a nice break from winter weather, the bright sun poses some definite challenges for photography, with one being the bright hazy and washed out look that ends up in many photos. This can be be fixed with some digital development if the image isn't too washed out. I have had some good luck fixing the haze with The GIMP program and below have the general outline of my steps, though with this particular demo image my results weren't worth much as it was quite hazy.

First here is the original photo, nothing spectacular - just a view from a local observatory that came out hazy and washed out looking:

Original Photo

For images that have some unwanted haze, but aren't too far glazed over below are my steps I typically use in The GIMP program that I have had some luck using to eliminate much of the haze and improve the photo:

Optionally, warm the color tones up slightly (as I mentioned in a previous post)

Step 1: Adjust brightness (down 10-30 points or so) and contrast (up 5-10 points or what looks appropriate)

Step 2: Adjust levels down to .95 - .85 from the 1.0 default middle option (again, this varies with the photo and level of haze)

Step 3: Adjust curves in a manner similar to the below screen shot, pulling the lower left curve down slightly and the upper right up slightly - adjusting as needed for the particular image.

Working with a RAW image is where we can really get some great results on images that may appear to be throw aways. Some we will be able to get great shots from and some may only be turned from a discard into merely a decent image.

Using Darktable, follow the below steps as a template to bring out the potential in your hazy sunny day images:

1: Exposure adjustment - boost the black slider slightly (toward the right) and leave the exposure adjustment alone.

2: Local Contrast - boost contrast and detail slightly (to the right)

3: Levels - Adjust the middle bar slightly to the right.

Three quick steps and below is the final result:

 Darktable Adjusted Final

The more I work with Darktable to develop RAW images, the more I see the advantages to the RAW format. The results are often much better, even if the only adjustments are the base curve and sharpening the program applies upon import and the extra development time is very minimal.

Anyway, there you have it: a good starting point to help bring out some pop to an image otherwise destined for the discard pile. Happy developing!



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