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Milky Photos How to?

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Showing 1-17 of 17 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 10, 2013 2:29:26 PM PST
YoYo Roadie says:
Hi, These days I see photos mostly of landscapes or with landscapes with buildings or things generally out doors taken during the day that have a kind of a milky look, not blurry but crystal clear almost surreal where the light in everything seems to be very very even the image is clear and appears to be lit by an almost unnatural light. I have a Nikon D7000 and would like to be able to achieve this but haven't been able to and don't know how to. Strangely enough I took a photo with my cell phone some time ago and it did it by some chance and I don't know why. Can anyone give me some guidance please? Thank you.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 2:48:16 PM PST
® says:
Do you have any links to these milky landscape photos. I think it might be more of the photographers' photoshop skills you are interested in. Long exposure with nd filters over water has a smooth look.

I did an interior shot with some photoshop filters to get this look:
probably not what you are thinking, but it is smooth.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 4:52:12 PM PST
YoYo Roadie says:
Hey R I like your images they somewhat surreal but not quite what I had in mind. I'm a bit of a novice first time I've used Flickr good for this huh. Check out my photo straight from my little Nokia cell phone. Maybe my milky description isn't so good. It is kind of harsh. Have a look at the garden bark in the following photo actually I think the whole image is weird something to do with contrast? I took others at the same time that was taken and this is the only one that looks like that.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 5:31:00 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 10, 2013 5:39:50 PM PST
® says:
looks like a lot of lens distortion/perspective to me. Usually a bad lens will do this. Yes it has high contrast too. People that like to take mistake photos are the one that shoot film a lot. They like the little oddities. Also try free lensnsing (take the lens off the mount and start to take photos, means you have to clean your sensor later). Not sure what the milky thing is here. Looks like there is a twist of the milky way in the spiral chain link distortion, the white and blue has been blow out a little in the back is a little interesting. Also in Photoshop you can distort your image too.

Otherwise I don't know what you are looking for in milky.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 7:31:15 PM PST
Les Schmader says:
Are you thinking of shots where there is a cabin or barn and it's spotlighted by the sunlight?

It can be a dark, cloudy day and suddenly the sun can peak through the clouds and spotlight a subject. The same thing can be created or watched for in tree cover. The sun can perfectly light a subject if you know how to follow the light, but it might only last a few minutes.

From bright sunny days to the middle of a thunderstorm, dawn or dusk, the light is what you're always chasing in nature. The weather conditions create all types of special or surreal effects.

It's something like the sunlight streaming through an open window and highlighting a subject. You decide wether to take advantage of the flare or not.

The bark in your image looks like a small variation of that spotlight effect. The sunlight is direct and the rest of the shot is less so.

If the shots you've seen are of a cabin in the woods or a barn in an open field, that's where you would be more likely to notice the effect. The subject is sharper and the surrounding light can be more diffused, foggy or "milky" depending on the weather conditions and how creative you want to be.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 7:59:12 PM PST
Use of a light "fog" filter might be a factor.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 8:11:50 PM PST
YoYo Roadie says:
Hi Les, Thanks for that, I know what you mean by spotlighting I tried it with this but/and I have no photoshop to change stuff. But the spotlight isn't quite what I mean but in part perhaps you are right with the first pic with the bark garden. I've seen this milky but clear effect in real estate advertising from time to time and the whole image is even..

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 8:15:53 PM PST
YoYo Roadie says:
Hi Dennis, a light fog filter would make it slightly fuzzy wouldn't it? What I want is sharp, with contrast and somehow milky. doesn't seemed make sense I know?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 11, 2013 3:40:54 AM PST
Les Schmader says:
All I really know anything about is outdoors/nature.

Have you ever used a CPL filter or seen the effect? Forget the blue sky B.S, and just go take a shot of something using the CPL on a normal or overcast day. Take a shot of something damp or wet and see if that's the "milky" look you're after.

I know how to get the surreal look with natural light, but I don't know what you mean by "milky". I might refer to the CPL effect as "glassy" or "deep" or maybe even "creamy".

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 12, 2013 7:15:12 AM PST
Neo Lee says:
It's probably pseudo HDR or tonemapping effect that you're talking about. With iPhone, you just need to turn on the HDR filter. Kodak EasyShare cameras can apply a similar effect too by using the "Smart Capture" mode.

If I were to replicate that shot you're referencing to, the first thing is applying some mild pseudo tonemapping effect and then applying mild cross processing filter by mixing less green, more of blue and red. To top it off, in Lightroom, I would reduce clarity but increase the contrast.

In a less likely case, since I'm not too sure that's what you're talking about, you're probably talking about this color trick commonly used in Lightroom. Decrease saturation by -30 but increase vibrance by +15. To me, it will make the colors somewhat what you're describing. Here are the before and after photos of this effect (with some contrast adjustment):


Other than that, you're probably only observing what sun glare and cloudy lens could do to your photos.

Posted on Jan 12, 2013 7:24:39 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 12, 2013 7:28:00 AM PST
Neo Lee says:
In another possible case, since you mentioned "the light in everything seems to be very very even the image is clear," the photos may actually be real HDR photos, where the processing software aim to achieve very even mid-range colors. To make it look more natural, the photo then gets higher contrast and some sharpening. Here's one of my photos of the said effect:

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 15, 2013 8:02:24 PM PST
YoYo Roadie says:
Yes Neo Lee, that is it! wouldn't you describe that as kind of "milky"? All your photos are really really good but this is my favourite for the look I was trying to describe surreal. How did you do that? And can I learn to do that as well? Where do I start? Cheers I am impressed!

Posted on Jan 16, 2013 7:01:20 AM PST
T. Campbell says:
The first image you posted doesn't look particularly milky to me.

But if a milky effect is what you want, then as several people have pointed out, there are filters that can create a misty/milky/dreamy/foggy effect. They come in many names. I used to use a spot-diffusion filter that was completely clear in the center, but had dimples in the glass around the periphery. It created a dreamy vignette but you still got a sharp subject.

If you own a clear filter (or a UV filter), you can smear thin layer of petroleum jelly around the edges of the filter but leave the center clear (you'll probably want a clear center area about the size of a US quarter coin.) It's a cheap way to create a dreamy effect without buying a dedicated filter and it cleans off easily.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 16, 2013 12:02:37 PM PST
Nothing I'd describe as "milky" either. On my monitor (calibrate periodically using Monaco Gamma -- no hardware device, just the RGB contrast matching system) I see a rather dim scene with a small patch of very bright sky and silhouetted trees. It may just be me, but I find the left 2/3rds acceptable if I block out the yellow sun spot -- the illumination level gives the impression of sunset, without having the eye drawn to the sun patch to the exclusion of the land.

The other -- and I apologize if it isn't -- appears to be a touch of HDR processing; given the backlighting I'd have expected the front facade to be more silhouetted, and no on-camera fill flash was used as the fence post would have washed out...

Given the depth of field, they may have been shot on a tripod with narrow apertures and long exposures -- in which case any clouds may have drifted some making the sky fuzzy.

There is no EXIF data in the images, so no information as to exposure, camera, etc.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 16, 2013 4:58:20 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 16, 2013 4:58:46 PM PST
Neo Lee says:
Ahh.... that's HDR photography alright. The effect you're seeing is from tonemapping a HDR image into a LDR image so that it's viewable on computer screen.

Ever taken a photo of a building outside, but it turns out photo doesn't look like what you're seeing in real life. The sky would look white overexposed and everything in the building looks black underexposed? That's the limitation of current sensor technology. Today's sensors in consumer cameras cannot capture, at the same time, everything from the darkest to the brightest that human eyes can capture at all. Human eyes can see beautiful clouds and people in the dark building at the same time, but your camera will not. If you're exposing for the clouds, you will have to increase the shutter speed and by doing so, everything in the building will be underexposed, and if you're exposing for the inside of a building, you will have to reduce the shutter speed but then the sky will be white overexposed.

That's when HDR comes to rescue. You put your camera on a sturdy tripod and take three consecutive shots of the same scene in RAW format. First shot is at says 2000/s shutter speed to capture the clouds, the second shot at 500/s to capture the building, and the third shot at 125/s to capture the inside of the building. Now you've got three photos at different exposures aiming to capture different things in the scene. Next step is to combine the three photos into one, a process to create a single HDR image from multiple exposures. You will need a software to do this. I use Photomatix Pro which is not free. There are free alternatives such as Luminance HDR. Once you've created the HDR image, you will have to tonemap it in the same software. Tonemapping is like applying the "milky" effect that you described. You can tweak the settings so that you may get a total "milky" or a little "milky." It's all in the settings.

Overall, this is my HDR workflow:

What I post is too short to be a tutorial. You will need to look up on the web for tutorials to do so. Keyword is: HDR photo tutorial in Photomatix.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 16, 2013 6:12:45 PM PST
YoYo Roadie says:
Thank you Neo, you have been most helpful in understanding what I was trying to describe and in sharing all the info on how you got such beautiful photos. I have a lot to learn and look forward to the day when I can do that half as well. At least now that I know what it is I'm a tiny bit closer hehe. Thanks again.
Best regards Jan
ps How did you learn to do all that stuff?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 16, 2013 7:13:40 PM PST
Neo Lee says:
Thanks for the compliments. :-) It's actually easy once you've obtained the software. The software does all the jobs, and users just need to tweak the settings. The hardest part in my opinion is to locate an interesting spot/angle/perspective to take the photo.

When you are going to create HDR photos, you should definitely make use of AEB feature of your camera. What it does is that it will take multiple exposures consecutively for you, since you don't want to touch, shake or move the camera during the exposures.

Anyway, I can see how people get confused over what you describe it as milky because milky effect is a different thing to different people. Initially I thought the same as (R) did. I thought it's milky, dreamy, blurry effect often used in wedding photos.
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Discussion in:  Photography forum
Participants:  6
Total posts:  17
Initial post:  Jan 10, 2013
Latest post:  Jan 16, 2013

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