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Old 15th of June 2008 (Sun)   #1
rx7speed
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Default what causes the blue haze and how to prevent it?

I've noticed when taking some nature shots of something off in the distance I usually get this blue haze that ends up comming between me and the subject how is it one gets to cut through that?
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Old 15th of June 2008 (Sun)   #2
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Default Re: what causes the blue haze and how to prevent it?

It's just stuff in the air catching light waves. You can use a quality UV filter on the lens to help remove the haze.
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Old 15th of June 2008 (Sun)   #3
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Default Re: what causes the blue haze and how to prevent it?

Easiest way to eliminate there is to choose right timing. If you are shooting wide open spaces like Grand Canyon for example in middle of summer when it's +35c, then you will have it. If you come on cold(er) day, after some storm, when air is clean, you won't have this.
So only real option is to take such photos when it's right weather. Yes I know, it's damm hard to do this, when you are on holidays, and you have just one day to spend on location. But unfortunately that's reason why 99.9% of great landscape photos are done when people invest A LOT of time into one single photo.
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Old 15th of June 2008 (Sun)   #4
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Default Re: what causes the blue haze and how to prevent it?

You might notice less haze in the early morning, which can also give you some nice side light.
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Old 16th of June 2008 (Mon)   #5
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Default Re: what causes the blue haze and how to prevent it?

Other than waiting for better weather (and thus atmospheric conditions) a UV filter will help a little bit. A circular polarizer will probably help more. Other than that, you're at the weather's mercy. Getting there early in the morning will help some as the air is cooler and should have less humidity as well.
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Old 16th of June 2008 (Mon)   #6
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Default Re: what causes the blue haze and how to prevent it?

Yeah, I'd suggest the Circular Polarizer as well. Had a bright sunny morning here at the beach but as soon as the sun got above the mountains we got a blue haze over the water.

I experimated with a number of filters (UV/HAZE etc) and got mediocre results. Then I put the CP on and took shots with it turned various ways and it did a presentable job of getting rid of the haze. At least better then the other filters.
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Old 16th of June 2008 (Mon)   #7
rx7speed
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Default Re: what causes the blue haze and how to prevent it?

have a UV filter though it is a cheapy at best. the ol' canon uv-1 I think it is. seems to do nothing I just prefer it cause I would rather clean/scratch/damage that then the real lens. the circular polerizer didn't seem to do much on that.

the other question I have is would any color correcting filters help reduce the haze at all?


and other then that just early rise, cool, dry weather is best right?
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Old 16th of June 2008 (Mon)   #8
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Default Re: what causes the blue haze and how to prevent it?

UV filters help in some cases, like at the beach or up in the mountains - though this is largely only true with film. Most digital cameras block UV at the sensor, making a UV relatively pointless, save for protection purposes. So you probably won't see any difference.

Color correcting filters will only change the color of the haze.
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Old 17th of June 2008 (Tue)   #9
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Default Re: what causes the blue haze and how to prevent it?

Take a few shots without the UV filter and see if that makes a difference. I think some skylight filters can cause a blue color cast.
Upload a typical example you are seeing here so we can see as well.
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Old 17th of June 2008 (Tue)   #10
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Default Re: what causes the blue haze and how to prevent it?

^ That's weird, because skylight filters are warm-toned.
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Old 17th of June 2008 (Tue)   #11
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Default Re: what causes the blue haze and how to prevent it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Double Negative View Post
Color correcting filters will only change the color of the haze.
Yes and no! Haze is caused mostly by scatter of visible blue light (and to a much lesser degree UV light). The scatter is caused by suspended particles or water in the air.

It's very well known that filters that block blue light will increase sharpness and decrease haze. Ansel Adams has some great examples of this in The Negative, with some extreme examples using IR film and IR pass filters.

So using an orange #23 filter or a red #25 or even a yellow #15 will dramatically sharpen the image, because the scattered blue light is blocked.

Yes, this will indeed change the color of a color picture. But you could consider taking two photos on the tripod -- one with no filter and then another with a filter like a red #25. Then take the image shot with the red #25, desaturate it (no need to do channel mixer), adjust the levels and contrast, and copy it to the clipboard. Then take the full color image, paste the B&W image on top, and set the blending mode to Luminosity. (Alternatively, perhaps better, you could convert the color image to LAB colorspace, go to Channels, select the Lightness channel, and paste the B&W image over this channel).

This takes the sharpness from a red-filtered shot and uses that image as a tone map. So the detail and sharpness will come from that shot, the color will come from the full color shot. The distant detail will still look 'blue' unless you color-correct it, but at least you'll rescue some detail.
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Old 17th of June 2008 (Tue)   #12
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Default Re: what causes the blue haze and how to prevent it?

^ That's an excellent explanation and you're totally right. I guess I oversimplified my statement a bit, heh. Blocking the blue light and layering like that would definitely bring out some otherwise lost details.

I'll have to try that next time I'm out. I was shooting with the 300mm f/2.8L IS and 1.4x/2x over the weekend and the haze was insane. I haven't prepared/purchased any filters for it yet - on distant shots the haze really showed (click for larger/info):

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Old 17th of June 2008 (Tue)   #13
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Default Re: what causes the blue haze and how to prevent it?

You might go cheap and get a gel filter kit, like from Lee. I use 4x4 inch filters for my large format lenses, and the kit isn't very expensive -- one kit (which you can order from B&H or Calumet) comes with a yellow/green #8, a yellow #11, an orange #15, and a red #23, and it comes with a plastic filter holder. The only trick is keeping the filters free of scratches. That would certainly be cheaper than finding a filter to fit a monster like the 300/2.8.
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Old 17th of June 2008 (Tue)   #14
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Default Re: what causes the blue haze and how to prevent it?

^ Yes, but there's no way to use those 4x4 filters on the 300/2.8.

The best I can do is cut some gels myself from a Rosco pack (which I'll very likely do) and pick up a Canon 52mm Drop-In Circular Polarizer PL-C.
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Old 17th of June 2008 (Tue)   #15
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Default Re: what causes the blue haze and how to prevent it?

Whoa, that front element is 5" -- that's even more than my Schneider 90/5.6 Super Angulon XL, which takes 105mm filters.

You're right, a Rosco gel would work. You could also check KEH for used 5" filters, because they do exist.

For these purposes I'd probably err on the side of a #11 or #15 filter rather than a very dark red one. A yellow #15 works nicely for routine haze. I don't know if it would work to shoot a neutral gray target to color balance after shooting through a color filter -- but if so, I'd probably stay away from something like a red #25 or #29, i.e. something that blocks everything shorter than ~ 650 nm wavelength. You're more likely to have recoverable color if you're just blocking blue.
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