When you take photos of the sea, the textures are often very nice but the general impression of the image is not that good due to low contrast. Fog on the water surface makes your pictures pale and boring. But there is a way to create crisp images with high impact. This tutorial works with all low-contrast images.
First thing, you should shoot RAW images. Best would be a DSLR which creates 14bit RAW files, but 12bit will probably do as well. The thing is you will need all the fine image data you have for pushing up the contrast. RAW files have a bigger color depth as jpeg files, which have only 8bit. This is why you have a lot of adjustment options when you convert RAW files.
This is a picture of the sea surface taken from some distance with a 55-260mm zoom lens. The subtle fog makes the image very pale.
Now when you are back home grab yourself a nice cup of tea and open the raw file with your favorite raw converting application. In this example we use Adobe Camera Raw which is integrated in Adobe Photoshop.
It is important to mind the histogram when opening the file in Camera Raw. It shows the tonal distribution of your image. As the image is very pale, you will find a big peak somewhere in the middle (grey) and almost nothing in the left (dark) and right (bright) area. Your task is now to adjust the image so that you have a wide tonal distribution from bright to dark.
At first, increase “contrast” as high as possible without cropping which will be indicated in the top corners of your histogram. If there is still no cropping, push “exposure” (for the bright part) and “blacks” (for the dark part) as far as possible, again with no cropping.
If your picture looks too bright or dark now, correct that using “brightness”. Your picture will now be very crisp and also more colourful. You can also push colour with “vibrance” and “saturation”. Be careful with the last one.
Hope you like your picture now and if you have any further questions ask in the comments!