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Fog and mist add mood to an image.  Both occur in calm weather conditions so it provides a tranquil and peaceful feeling. It’s more of an early morning weather phenomena and can appear if it’s sunny or overcast. Sunny conditions are often preferred as it adds the drama of backlighting. Unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn’t always extend her graciousness and bestow the early rising photographer the effect. Thankfully, there’s a Photoshop work around to simulate the look of fog and mist.  It’s found in the Filter>Render>Clouds menu and takes advantage of a layer mask to paint in the mist where it’s desired.  If you are of the same mindset and like the mood fog creates, apply the steps in this tutorial to some of your images to impart the feel.

 

It’s important to pick a photo where the effect will look believable.  Simply applying the technique to just any photo will not provide the proper mood. Choose a scene that could have potential fog or mist. Choose a photo where the light could have been right to accommodate fog. Choose a subject where it makes sense to add the effect.  Experiment with a number of images until you find one that works. Don’t be afraid to hit the delete button if it doesn’t. I’ve gone through many rejects to come up with the ones I’ve kept.

 

IMAGE #1

Step 1:

Choose an image that has foggy or misty potential and open it in Photoshop. If it’s a master file of an already optimized image, make a duplicate. Flatten all the layers as you’ll be adding new ones with layer masks to create the fog effect. 

 

Photoshop Tips Fog and Mist

 

 

Step 2:

Add a new layer to the Background by clicking on the Add a New Layer icon at the bottom of the layers palette. An alternate way to accomplish this is to go to the Layer pull down menu and drag to New>Layer. A new blank layer will appear above the Background layer. Feel free to give it a descriptive name such as  FOG if you desire.

 

Add fog and mist in photos

 

Photoshop tips

 

fog photography tips

 

 

Step 3:

Be sure the foreground/background colors in the Tool Bar are set to the default of black and white. Go to Filter>Render>Clouds to provide the information that will become the mist and fog. The primary image will “disappear” but is simply covered by the clouds image. The layers palette will show the effect of the stacked photos. 

 

fog photo tips

 

mist photography tips

 

 

Step 4:

Add a Layer Mask to the clouds layer by going to Layer>Layer Mask>Hide All. The reason for Hide All is to be able to paint in the mist and fog where you want it. The layer mask will automatically be filled with black hiding the effect of the clouds.

 

Photoshop Layers

 

Photoshop Layer Mask

 

 

Step 5:

Change the Blend Mode of the cloud layer to Screen. This will create a brightening effect of the clouds as they are painted in.

 

Photoshop fog tips

 

Photoshop Blend layers

 

 

Step 6:

Choose the brush tool and make sure the foreground color is set to white. Make sure the hardness of the brush is set to zero%. In the Options bar along the top of the workspace, set the opacity of the brush to 40%. 

 

With these settings in place, be sure the layer mask is active (it will have a black frame around it) and begin to paint in the effect of the fog. In that the opacity is set to 40%, continue to build in the effect by making multiple passes across the image. The layer mask will reveal the areas that were painted away. The more passes, the less black the mask. 

 

photoshop mist photography tips

 

add fog to photos

 

 

Step 7:

If the area of painted in fog becomes too light, make the background layer active and darken it with the burn tool. 

 

Photoshop mist tips

 

 

IMAGE #2

Repeat steps 1 and 2 as above.

 

ps tips

 

ps tips for photographers

 

 

Step 3:

If you want the clouds to take on a warm tone as appears in this step, use the color picker to choose the hue of the warm up.

photoshop mist tips

 

 

 

Apply a hint of color to the Clouds:

a) single click on the foreground color in the tool bar to get the Color Picker to appear.

 

add clouds in photoshop

 

b) use the Vertical Bar to choose a warm tone color and then drag the cursor around the large color box to fine tune the selection.

add colored clouds in photoshop

 

 

Now go to Filter>Render>Clouds. The rendered clouds in the new layer will take on the hue you chose using the Color Picker. Doing this for sunrise light works well.

 

Repeat steps 4 - 6 as above. 

 

Step 7:

In that some of the areas of added fog made the image too light, I selectively used the burn tool to darken them.

BEFORE:

Before and After photoshop samples

 

AFTER:

before and after photoshop examples

 

 

IMAGE #3

Repeat steps 1 and 2.

 

photoshop fog examples

 

 

Step 3:

I wanted the mist to have a warm tone so I used the color picker to choose a warm hue as I did in image #2

a) single click on the foreground color in the tool bar to get the Color Picker to appear.

 

mist examples in photoshop

 

b) use the Vertical Bar to choose a warm tone color and then drag the cursor around the large color box to fine tune the selection.

cloud examples in photoshop

 

Now go to Filter>Render>Clouds. The rendered clouds in the new layer will take on the hue you chose using the Color Picker.

photoshop examples

 

 

Step 4:

Use the keyboard short cut to create the layer mask filled in with black. Click the Add a Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the layers palette while holding down the Option key on a Mac or the Alt key on a PC. 

photoshop layers tutorial

 

 

Step 5:

Change the Blend Mode of the cloud layer to Screen.

 

Step 6:

Paint in the fog as in the other two images.

 

photoshop layers painting

 

photoshop layers tutorial

 

 

Step 6a:

Sometimes the cloud pattern Photoshop chooses doesn’t create a complete look to the fog and no matter where you paint, fog can’t be revealed. An option is to go back and re-render the clouds but there’s a better way.

 

Add an additional blank layer.

 

Go to Filter>Render>Clouds

 

clouds filter in photoshop

 

Add a layer mask using the keyboard shortcut holding the Option/alt key and click the Add A Layer Mask icon. Change the blend mode to Screen.

photoshop cloud tutorials

 

Paint on the image to add an additional layer of fog to fill in the voids.

Photoshop layer painting

 

photoshop painted layer

 

 

Step 8:

If the areas of added fog made the image too light, use the burn tool to darken them.

BEFORE:

 

cloud photography tips

 

AFTER:

Before and after photos

 

Images and text by Russ Burden

 

Check TGP at the beginning of every month for a new Photoshop Tip Of The Month. Visit www.russburdenphotography.com for information about his Nature Photo Tours across the US.



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