Yesterday's Light

Images in Space and Time

When the Fog Rolled In (Part II)

Fog in Bryce Canyon (edited version)

Fog in Bryce Canyon (edited version)

Generally speaking, I usually don’t do photographic “sequels”.  Once I publish  images that I want to share, images relating to a certain time and place, I rarely go back to pick out a second group from the same set.  If I didn’t pick them at the outset it’s likely that I didn’t think they were as good as the ones I did pick.  And even if I do change my mind I probably won’t redo the same post.  It just seems to me that doing so is just a tiny bit redundant.

But there are always exceptions – to everything.  For about a week now I’ve been going through images from the same fog event, especially looking at the ones that I initially thought were really bad.  The reason I didn’t like them is because they were dominated (tonally) by a bright white background.  The fog, that is.  And I’ve always hated “white skies”.  Uniformly blue skies aren’t my favorite, either, but white backgrounds, for me, are pretty much intolerable.  In this case the fog was brightly lit, by the sun, from behind.  Which kind of turned everything else into dark silhouettes.  Straight out of the camera the image above looked like this:

Bryce Canyon fog (Unedited)

Bryce Canyon fog (Unedited)

In my opinion, that’s just ugly.  There’s very little color and worse, there’s almost no texture in the rock formations.  And honestly that’s not what I remember seeing.  It is, however, what the camera’s sensor saw.

Fortunately, all of the detail is still hiding there in the original RAW image.  I just needed to coax it out.  And I do like the resulting, edited image.  It almost looks like a scene from one of the “Lord of the Rings” movies.  Every time I look at it I expect to see an Orc or two peering back at me.

Here’s another resurrected image:

Snow and fog in Wall Street, Bryce Canyon

Snow and fog in Wall Street, Bryce Canyon

And one more:

Fog envelops Bryce Canyon

Fog envelops Bryce Canyon

Again, all of these photographs looked very dull and very bland straight out of the camera.  If I’d exposed for the orange hoodoos I would have blown out all of the white snow and fog.  My only option was to make sure I was capturing in RAW file format and then make the necessary adjustments in post.  Which is what I do all the time.

Not that any of this is news.  I think most photographers do exactly the same thing.  But it would have been a different story (for me) if I’d only captured JPEG’s or if I’d only had my iPhone.  Just sayin’………….   



6 Responses to “When the Fog Rolled In (Part II)”

  1. TomDills

    It can be quite a challenge to know how much “voodoo” to put on an image, especially with fog. It looks like you interpreted these nicely. That was obviously quite an experience… no shame in sequels!

    • Paul Maxim

      Thanks Tom. In this case the interpretation wasn’t too hard. It was just a question of remembering what I saw. I suppose you could say that the camera (sensor) misinterpreted the scene. What does require “interpretation”, I’ve learned, are those nighttime shots of the Milky Way. Heavy editing is a necessity with those. What the sensor sees and what our eyes see are two entirely different things.

  2. E. Brooks

    Wonderful images, Paul. I love the fog.

    Sometimes reality is that the backdrop or sky is nearly white, maybe fog or a very light grey sky, so either we present it as seen or we photoshop a more interesting ski. Personally I’d rather stick with simply showing the reality as seen.

    • Paul Maxim

      Thanks, Brooks. When I’m confronted by the “dreaded white sky” I usually just try to keep it out of the image. You know, stay below the horizon. In this case, of course, that’s a little difficult. The fog, after all, is the subject. So you can either attempt to edit a single image or maybe try combining multiple images with different exposures. As I said, the camera didn’t see what I saw. So I did some “adjusting”. And hopefully arrived at reality.

      As I mentioned to Tom, though, night-sky photography is a little different. Our eyes see it one way, the sensor sees it another way, and neither view makes much of a photograph. The stars aren’t very bright, the color is wrong (usually a kind of greenish-brown), and the contrast sucks. Significant editing is pretty much mandatory. And what you wind up with is definitely not “reality”.

      All I’m saying is that my own personal view with respect to reality versus significant editing has changed somewhat. Sometimes it’s the only way to go.


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