In this picture, smog is impacting the perceived sharpness of the buildings in the background.  Is this good or bad?

One of the challenges in landscape and cityscape photography is to represent the three dimensions that are part of our daily life.  A picture is a two dimensions media and as such the third dimension disappears.  Let’s look at this picture and let’s find out how the three dimensions are being represented.

How haze, smog or fog help your picture?

In this picture, the tall buildings in the background do not appear as sharp as Mel’s building in the foreground.  This is cause by haze or smog.  While this might not be desirable, in this case this helps the picture.  Our brain understands how smog affects our visibility.  Because of this our brain understands that the tall buildings in the background are far away compared to Mel’s building in the foreground.  Et voilà, the third dimension is being properly represented.

So this picture works.  Our brain interprets what we are seeing on this picture and because the third dimension is being represented our brain feel at ease with this representation.  Foreground and background are delineated by the difference of sharpness.  This in turn helps us find the picture “nice”.

Moreoever, you see how the buildings in the background are taking an orange color?  The rising sun in my back is the culprit here.  It is certainly challenging to get up, ready and on location 45 minutes before sunrise.  For me, sunrises are my preferred time of the day.  Beside the great light, there is less “competition” and the various locations are usually less crowded at sunrise.

If you want to know more about how I got up there for a sunrise shot, see how I asked for permission.

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