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I'm always struggling with photos which contain large zones with trees situated far away from the camera. Haze and pollution cause severe changes in colors, which means that the trees lose their natural light orange-green color, and appear in a sort of brownish green-blue color, darker and desaturated.

Here's an example. The photo itself is bad, and is used purely to illustrate what I mean by the change in the color:

enter image description here

Here's the original photo in DNG format.

Questions:

  1. Is there anything to do to improve the photos during the shooting?

    I tried to use a polarizer filter, but haven't noticed any difference.

    I know that there are haze filters, but looking at the comparison photos, I'm not particularly impressed. For instance, here, the right photo has the same unnatural color both for the sky and for the trees.

  2. How such photos can be recovered in Lightroom or Photoshop to get more natural colors?

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    "... to get more natural colors?" In a sense, the haze is natural and eliminating the influence of haze that is there when the photo is captured is unnatural. Do you mean you wish to match the colors of the trees much farther away to the colors of the trees much closer to the camera? – Michael C Aug 17 at 18:17
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    One method of reducing this haze is to wait for an abnormally clear day. – Mike Sowsun Aug 17 at 18:54
  • The best way to capture real, more vivid colour is to isolate the subject reducing any condition that dilutes the subject hue during image capture. That optimal situation is to move closer. Reduce the amount of air (dust, humidity, smoke, smog, and other visible atmospheric effects) between you and the (one or two) leaves you wish to show more chromatically accurate. – Stan Aug 18 at 13:07
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You can't "fix" distance haze. You can try compensate for it, but you cannot fix it.

None of what follows is in any way definitive, it's 5 mins in Photoshop & really rough

The method I would have used for your posted image would be HDR - 3 exposures, merge afterwards - but we're too late for that. So we're left with 'fudging'.

If you mask out the 'first depth layer' in Photoshop you can start to treat the background differently - the following is as rough as it gets; more care & attention will be required…

Select that first depth layer, then invert the selection…

enter image description here

Add a colour-balance layer [Ps will automatically mask based on your existing selection] & swing cyans & greens to magentas & reds…

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Merge your layers [or Ps won't use the mask] then hammer some Clarity & Dehaze into it…

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Lastly, you can push/pull some of the individual colour ranges…

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Not magnificent - you're never going to get that depth back in the sea, not to mention that trying to pull blue haze out of the trees is also going to pull it out of the sea & sky - so you might need to set up another layer to handle that, but a slight improvement on the original.

enter image description here

Taking more time, care & attention you could use those 'distance separations' better by splitting the image into 3 different layers, each masked out, so you could independently operate on each 'depth' for best results.

This is how I would have approached it with 3 image HDR - [took me a while to find the refs which I've jpg'd into oblivion to give fast images here] - 'centre' point, look how the sky is bleached…

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end result, after HDR & some tweaking & making it look "sunny"…

enter image description here

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"Haze" from the standpoint of landscape photography is not only natural but also necessary for pictorial perception. Key to this understanding is to not consider it as a fault but as an attribute. This is easier if you consider the term used by artists in creating a similar view.

Aerial perspective is the term used for the appreciation of depth within the image.

Consider how horrible your beautiful panoramas would look if they were flat because there was no tonal separation between the different depths of the actual scene.

Early primitive art showed perspective by only size which is a quaint reminder of children's drawings showing the family cat sitting beside a house which is the same size. Hieroglyphics show this kind of spacial perspective.

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