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Bad photos in smoky conditions

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Bad photos in smoky conditions

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Apr 01, 2014 9:03 am

I am sure many of us ended up with some bad photos due to smoky conditions with all the fires last year. Is there any processing that can save these images? I have tried a lot of Photoshop processing and all the photos look fake. The color is really distorted. Or is the best option to emphasize the haze and call it "artsy"?



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Re: Bad photos in smoky conditions

Postby maverick » Tue Apr 01, 2014 12:20 pm

Photographing in a smoky atmosphere is like photographing in mist or fog.
Always use -1 under expose than your meter reading. Try taking shots at different
exposure as it depends upon the light intensity as well as the density of smoke.
Also smoke moves which can create an artistic feel at longer exposures, if done
right. Always include some non smokey areas in your composition to get contrast.
Compose the subjects from closer to further from the camera, so that you will
get the dimension and smoke density. Use sidelite scenes if possible. Photo's
in moonlight can make for some interesting shots too, take a lot of shots, night
shots are hit and miss.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Bad photos in smoky conditions

Postby SSSdave » Tue Apr 01, 2014 12:34 pm

Learned decades ago with smoke filled atmospheres there is no hope for a serious photographer. Mist and fog can be nice but smoke looks different with an ugly brown color. Thus will abort upcoming trips if necessary and go elsewhere or if caught in new fires bail unless there is some hope for a wind change. During the last couple decades our August Sierra skies have become much more smoky that is a bad sign in part the result of the huge numbers of new people now living in the state, many in fire prone places homes ought not be built.
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Re: Bad photos in smoky conditions

Postby maverick » Tue Apr 01, 2014 12:57 pm

SSSDave wrote:
Thus will abort upcoming trips if necessary and go elsewhere or if caught in new fires
bail unless there is some hope for a wind change.


I too would delay or cancel my trip, but for the majority of folks photography is only
a small part of their backpacking experience. The above advice is only to make the
best of an already bad situation (photography wise).
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Bad photos in smoky conditions

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Apr 02, 2014 11:08 am

Thanks for the tips. Unfortunately I am now working on several poor shots I took in 2012 in the Wind Rivers while the Alpine Lake Fire was raging. I cannot retake the photos - just trying to figure out if I can salvage anything. I took them in RAW format but am still struggling with how to process in RAW. I have the Elements 10, which I do not think has all the stuff I need. What does work a little is simply to convert to B&W. This just changes the photos from horrible to poor. That brown tone is awful! I have some photos in mist and fog and they are totally different.

So far, I can tweak a little but once I have to drastically process, things go downhill fast. I am not a fan of over-done color or fake looking photos. I think our minds are really good at filtering out the bad. I thought the scenery was great when I was on the trip, but photos prove otherwise!
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Re: Bad photos in smoky conditions

Postby maverick » Wed Apr 02, 2014 11:31 am

Send me a RAW file of one or two of them, and I will work on it and see if it is
beyond an acceptable repair or if something can be done to make it fall into the
decent category.
I have an art show coming up this weekend so I will be a little busy but should be able
to work on it tomorrow. Send file to: pagoston@prioryca.org, if your interested.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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