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06-23-2014, 08:15 PM   #1
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Best filter for haze?

Hello! I really wasn't sure where to put this, so I'll pose it here.

I'm leaving on a road trip to Montana on Friday, and will (as always) be passing through Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. I do this almost annually, so I fight with this problem annually. Is there a filter I can put on my lens to help cut the haze from wildfires? Something in the Western US is always on fire in the summer (seems to be mostly south at the moment, the closest is Utah and there's only 2), so some days are really, really hazy for landscape photography. I have UV/haze filters on every lens I own, but they don't seem to do much. Any other suggestions? I have polarizers for most of my lenses, and if it's something cheap I'd love to pick it up before I leave (or order it from Amazon Prime...)

Is there anything I can do in-camera to help, or PP in Lightroom? I shoot a K-r and have Lightroom 5.

06-23-2014, 08:18 PM   #2
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A polarizer would probably be your best bet if you want to increase contrast in the sky. But levels adjustments in lightroom would also do the trick.

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06-23-2014, 08:33 PM   #3
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A "haze" filter is for use with film to eliminate the bluish haze caused by UV light, to which the film is sensitive. The smoke is an actual physical object present in the air, so a filter isn't going to help with it anymore than it would help in something like fog or rain.
06-23-2014, 09:09 PM   #4
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A haze filter will not help. A circular polarizer might help a little but the best hope is a.) avoid wildfire areas and b.} in post-processing, you can reduce blues and up the contrast.

I saw an article by Tim Grey on the exact process to do this but I can't lay my hands on it right now. It was either in the Tim Grey Newsletter or his Pixology Magazine several months ago.

06-23-2014, 09:15 PM - 2 Likes   #5
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Under some conditions smoke particles will preferentially scatter polarized light, so occasionally a polarizing filter is indeed helpful. Here's a nerdy paper that discusses using this property to measure smoke particle size:
06-24-2014, 09:13 PM   #6
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Wait for a thunderstorm, that sometimes helps.

When it is really bad, keep an eye on the sunsets and sunrises. The dust and smoke act as an ND filter for the sun, allowing for those "sun as an orange ball" shots. Use Live View for focusing and framing.
06-25-2014, 02:50 PM   #7
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Thanks everyone! I have the haze filters mostly for the protection-of-the-lens factor (I also do a lot of horse show photography, which means a LOT of dust on my lenses...), but I wasn't sure if they actually "cut" haze. I'll just try my best with my polaizer(s) and hope the wind blows the smoke the other way!
06-27-2014, 06:43 PM   #8
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Its possible to rescue an image that suffers from wildfire smoke haze with a simple reveal mask, as I have done here.

With thanks to google I gabbed a sample image suffering from smoke haze.

This technique wont work on all subjects but a light smoke haze is treatable.

Image one shows the smoke haze affecting the city blocks. Image 20 shows the smoke haze reduced.

Process. Layer copy - reveal mask - adjust local contrast in background layer - paint the reveal over the cityscape leaving foreground unaffected.

Last edited by Imageman; 08-03-2014 at 09:20 PM.
07-10-2014, 10:35 AM   #9
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What Adam said. A lot of it is fixable in post processing even with freeware like Gimp.
07-11-2014, 02:19 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aerlind Quote
Best filter for haze?
To be honest the real answer is, to re shoot when the conditions are more photographically suitable.
07-11-2014, 08:57 PM   #11
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Thanks everyone! I actually got really lucky and it was mostly clear, a bit hazy when I went to Yellowstone but I just didn't take any photos from a long distance where you would see the haze. I'll post some when I have more energy.

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