Night Mist

I had intended to run a series of night-time street photographs on film this year, but as the M7 is currently out of action pending its 15-year service the project will need to be shot digitally.

Replicating the look of pushed film is not as easy as the purveyors of software filters would have you believe, and it is particularly difficult to emulate halation (light-scattering at the film plane) with packages such as Capture One or Lightroom. Rather than adopting an ever more complex image editing chain, I wanted to see if a physical diffusion filter could emulate the characteristic halation of pushed film.

These images were shot using a Tiffen Pro-Mist Black 1/2, and the difference with and without the filter can be seen here:

These filters are commonly used in video work, and can be seen in anything Star Trek films to TV series such as Elementary. In still photography they seem to be rarely used today, perhaps because the horror that was 70’s soft-focus glamour still lingers in some dark corner of memory.

The effect with the 1/2 filter is much stronger than I was aiming for, and a weaker filter is needed to give an accurate emulation of halation in Ilford Delta films. But the effect is nicely novel and, surprisingly, even the 1/2 filter used here does not excessively soften the overall image.

So the question is now as to whether or not to continue working with this filter or whether to move to something more subtle…


    • Well, I do not know about perfectionist but thanks anyway! I have switched to a slightly weaker filter, which does give a more subtle effect…

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