Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
|Jackson Lake Smoke Grand Teton National Park|
So what can you do when smoke or haze obscures your beautiful landscape?
First you can wait and hope for a storm to pass through blowing away the grime. Unfortunately this didn't happen for us. I shrugged and promised to come back again, sometime, and then I had to make do.
|Inspiration Point Trail|
|Mule Deer Fawn|
Celebrate the Foreground
|Mormon Row Foreground|
When the distant vistas are murky, it is a good time to focus on the foreground. I always look for good foregrounds to compliment my expansive landscapes, but in this situation, the sharp, clear foreground elements helped to offset the lack of distant majesty. Fortunately the Tetons are full of great detail; rocks, flowers, animals and old structures can all become nice foci of interest.
Embrace the Smoke
|Mormon Row Sunset|
|Smoke Filtered Sunrise|
Back in the Digital Darkroom
Sharp Mask Enhanced Contrast
HDR techniques can also be helpful. The image of the mountains behind the north end of Jenny Lake combines most of the techniques I have discussed. It was taken closer to the peaks and had strong foreground elements, but additionally I found that with HDR I could do a better job cutting through the smoke. I captured 7 bracketed images, and then used Photoshop’s HDR Pro just focusing on enhancing the contrast in the mountains.
Black & White Conversion
Smoke and haze unavoidably mutes the vibrancy of color in images and, in these situations, conversion to black and white can restore the photograph's impact. Black and white images can be more aggressively edited without affecting color quality. Finally contrast enhancement or HDR can be combined with black and white conversion and local adjustments to further restore the snap in those murky distant peaks.
|Black & White Conversion, Schwabacher Road|
Enough lame rationalizations. The next episode will feature Hood River and the Columbia River Gorge, highlighting spectacular waterfalls, majestic Mount Hood and of course a wedding. And all with much less smoke!