Shooting Fog Part 2 (Finishing the Process) / by William Wallace

In the first post on SHOOTING FOG PART 1 we talked about finding fog, phone camera settings, and creating depth. In this post we discuss the editing process of foggy photos. Hopefully you have had some time to add the Snapseed and/or Handyphoto apps and even played around with them a little. If not go back to PART 1 for the links to those apps.

Some people absolutely hate the idea of an edited photo. However a photo shot with a phone sometimes needs some editing to bring out details or enhance certain features in the photo. Everyone has preferences in how they edit from no edit at all to a very heavily edited processes. There is no possible way to cover all the ways to edit photos. I will simply offer to you what I generally do with my photos and then you are free to go and experiment with your own style. I will also show you my photos as they are originally shot and then again after they've been edited so you can see for yourself what happens to a photo from the editing process.

THE UNEDITED SHOT

Not too long ago I accepted a challenge to do a series of 3 photos that were unedited. These were photos straight out of the camera without even being cropped. It had been a long time since I had done this and I found myself being a lot more thoughtful on how I could get a "good" shot that I could post. I'm glad this happened because it has made me think more carefully about what a photo will look like after I shoot it. One of those photos happened to be a foggy shot of my favorite creek. You can see it below. 

I was pleasantly surprised with how this one turned out and you can see the depth created in this photo as I mentioned in SHOOTING FOG PART 1

THE EDITED SHOT

Now I want to show you a couple of edited shots. The first is another waterscape in the fog. In this photo I chose to focus in on the weed that was close to me. I was able to get the details of the weed, webs, and dew drops. I felt this really gave a definite foreground. Depending on your phone you may have to find a camera app that will give you the opportunity to use a macro focus on something close at hand. When this type of focus is achieved it gives you a blurred "depth of field look," as you can see with everything in the background of the photo below. I also shoot a 16x9 frame with my camera. I usually try to place my subject (the single weed in this instance) along the left third portion of the photo. You'll also notice the trees lie along the top third of the photo. This is a composition tool of photography called the rule of thirds. I'll post something about this at a later date but if you're curious now you can search online for "rule of thirds" and find plenty to keep you busy.

Original unedited photo.

To edit this I pulled it up in Handyphoto. I knew I would want to square crop it because I was going to post it on Instagram, which operates best with that configuration. When I did this I kept that weed along the left third and cropped out a lot of the weeds and some of the trees on the horizon to the right. In Handyphoto I usually make small adjustments in the tone and color portion of the app regarding brightness and contrast. Adjusting the sharpness is tricky in fog. The photo can become filled with "noise" in the foggy areas and background. To prevent this I zoom the photo to over 100% to get very close and see the effects as I increase sharpness. Sometimes I'll only sharpen to 55% or maybe not at all, leaving it at 50%. I hit the checkmark and then go to the filters finding HDR. Care for excessive noise is critical here as well. I'll usually reduce the strength from 5% to no more than 15%. Hit the checkmark again and pull up the glow filter. I play around with this one sometimes increasing the shadow portion and reducing the strength of the "glow" feature. Hit the checkmark and then save.

Now it's time for some work in Snapseed. (NOTE: Snapseed has been updated since this blog was written. Some descriptions are before the update and may not be accurate) Since I've done most of my basic editing in Handyphoto I like to go to the vintage section of Snapseed. My favorite filter in vintage is the 3rd one. I play around with the settings getting the desired results I want. I like a darker edit so that's where I tend to go. I then finish up with "Center Focus" reducing blur all the way and decreasing the outer portion and adjusting the inner as well. The focus circle can be enlarged and moved around your photo. Use your preference here. I save and here is what I end up with below. Comparing the before and after you should see that they are definitely different but still it doesn't look overly edited.

Edited shot using HandyPhoto and Snapseed

I'm giving you a another brief example in the following photos of "before" here . . .

Original unedited photo

. . . and after with the editing here.

Final edited photo using HandyPhoto and Snapseed

In this edit I was looking to darken the barnyard and give a dramatic sun through the fog. In the process I went a little heavy on lighting up the center portion of the photo where the sun is and made it too bright. After looking over them again I like the one I had saved right before this final edit that you can see here.

The editing step right before the final one presented above. This one softened the harshness of the sunlight in the center of the photo.

I've given you a little about how I shoot and process fog shots. I would love to hear feedback from you or some tips and insights to your experience shooting fog. It's a great opportunity to see your photos give you the same feeling as when you were there actually shooting. Get out and try it for yourself. Soon you'll be loving those foggy photo sessions as well.