When I take pictures at mid-day, well before the golden hour, my images are usually dull. They seem hazy, low in contrast (perhaps due to haze?), and lacking in saturation.

My suspects:

  • Sensor blooming (or similar phenomenon).
  • Lens flare, due to the brightness of the sky.
  • More pleasing shadows and perception of increased contrast, created by diffusion.
  • Something like resonant frequency -- assuming light has a correlate.

What I mean by resonant frequency is this: As I understand, with sound, if you strike an object with a signal that matches its natural resonant frequency, it will react more strongly. So then, because the light from the sun is so blue during mid-day, warm-colored objects aren't very excited and therefore offer very little saturation.

Please correct or explain the elements that I've assumed, and also explain important elements that I didn't think of.

I was asked to add an example image. Here's one, which if I remember correctly, I shot at close to mid-day. The hazy effect is most obvious in the distant trees. https://i.imgur.com/1t0X1M4.jpg

  • \$\begingroup\$ AFAIK midday is noon, far away from golden hour. And the contrast is very high during this time. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 13, 2020 at 21:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you add an example shot? \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Feb 13, 2020 at 21:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Hueco Example added. \$\endgroup\$
    – icor103
    Feb 13, 2020 at 22:06

2 Answers 2


Lens bloom occurs due to light bending around a backlit object/subject. The distant trees are not backlit.

Lens flare is caused by hard light directly hitting the lens elements, and looks different. The lens is in the shade.

Increased contrast is the opposite of the issue here.

Light does not have a resonance frequency as such. Objects have a resonance associated with light... i.e. they resonate with certain wavelengths, which absorbs the wavelength converting it to heat. The color you see is the light that is rejected (ignoring fluorescence).

Daylight is not blue. The sky is blue due to the refraction of light by particles in the air. And shade is blue for the same reason (only indirect/refracted blue wavelengths reaching there). But midday sun is closer to white (full spectrum) than evening/morning. That's why specular reflections are white. And again, the color of an object is due to the wavelengths it rejects, not the ones that excite it.

Because the issue is greater over greater distances (the farther trees are more affected) it is probably safe to say it is an air issue. It could be heat waves/thermals, humidity, dust, pollen, etc. I.e. the air is somewhat hazy and the more of it you look/photograph through, the more pronounced it becomes.

  • \$\begingroup\$ To be clear, I meant sensor(?) blooming. \$\endgroup\$
    – icor103
    Feb 14, 2020 at 17:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Technically, neither the lens nor the sensor "blooms," they just record it... it is the backlight in the scene wrapping around a subject/object, which reduces contrast/detail. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 14, 2020 at 17:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is what I'm referring to: optique-ingenieur.org/en/courses/OPI_ang_M05_C06/co/… \$\endgroup\$
    – icor103
    Feb 14, 2020 at 17:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, as far as air quality -- would the sun being lower help the issue? Light is more diffuse then, so it should? \$\endgroup\$
    – icor103
    Feb 14, 2020 at 17:57
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I have never seen pixel bloom in an image... IDK if it is because of an intrinsic difference between a CMOS and a CCD sensor or something else. But reaching FWC results in pure white areas (e.g. the sky). The sun being lower usually helps, morning better than evening. That's because heat and disturbances haven't established yet, or they start to settle down in the evening. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 14, 2020 at 21:13

The example shot looks like it's suffering from two main issues.

  1. White balance is coming out very much on the blue side. When we think of 'sunny' we think of 'warm'. Humans equate orange with warm & blue with cold.

  2. It's over-exposed. The camera was presumably thinking the tree was the main subject & tried to deal with that. Unfortunately, cameras don't actually 'think' so you have to do some thinking for them & compensate in such conditions where there is a high contrast between shaded & sunny areas.

If you look at the original histogram, you'll see there's a lot hard to the right - the sky is completely blown-out, no way to recover that.

enter image description here

I ran the pic through Photoshop, & simply hit 'Auto' to see what it could do. I also changed the white balance using the bit of the dress visible between the chap's legs.

These are the changes it made -

enter image description here

& this was the result -

enter image description here

This was literally one minute's work. You could do better from the original image & a bit more care & attention to detail.

It looks 'warmer' therefore you interpret that as 'sunnier' & we've gained a little definition in the foreground.
The background is less successful. The sky is gone forever, there's no detail there to recover. The water, similarly, is so near to blown that there's not a great deal can be done for it.
The trees in the distance I think are acceptable like this. They're not sharp because of depth of field - it would look odd if they were sharp at that distance [mobile phones do things like that which makes things look very awkward] & they're no longer buried in blue haze. They're a bit under-contrast. If you were convinced they needed more you could mask it in, but as they're not the subject of the photo, I'd leave it.

You could go for a bit more punchy - those three 'magic' sliders at the bottom, Texture, Clarity & Dehaze can punch images up so far they hurt.

This is everything set to +20 …already too much, but just as an example -

enter image description here

One other thing you could possibly have done would have been to use a polarising filter. That could have cleaned up the water & added definition to the sky.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It's good to know how to edit the image to improve it, but that doesn't address the actual cause of the issue. IMO, the image isn't overexposed... the subject is exposed relatively correctly. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 18, 2020 at 0:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @StevenKersting - To my mind, an image is overexposed when large sections of it are banging hard against 255. The original histogram would say there was room to manoeuvre. The range could have been better compressed after the fact, had there been any info left in the sky. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Feb 18, 2020 at 7:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.