I am still trying to figure out how traditional film photographers got great outdoor photos. I struggle with haze and a loss of vibrancy in distant photos, as if the images were photographed through dirty glass. Maybe filters? More vibrancy in the film (I know that drove a lot of Kodak users to Fuji)?
Anyway, I don't have to rely on film, and can fiddle around with Photoshop until I get things right. I used it in this image to lighten some dark areas and then eliminated the haze effects by painting the whole image with a low-opacity color burn (I used to use a neutral gray for this but I have had better luck using a color with much of the blue taken out (using the RGB sliders in the color selection)). I gave a second helping of the color burn to the buildings only, to make them pop a bit. I try to stay far away from the contrast controls - every photo I have ever ruined started downhill with the contrast control. Instead, I went into each of the R-G-B channels in the "levels" section and fiddled with the distributions a bit, in effect widening the distributions (only a little) to get a tad more contrast.
I think it came out pretty well -- I was at an art show with a guy selling almost this exact same photo from the exact same spot and I think mine compared favorably with his art shot. The only thing I think might have improved it was to get morning light, but I was not going to camp out for 18 hours to do so.
Anyway, this is Vernazza, one of the five towns of Cinqueterre on the Italian Riviera, taken from the fabulous walking trail the connects the five towns. As usual click for enlargement.
On the monitor screen, the colors are perhaps a bit over-saturated but by trial and error it looks great on paper (at least with my printer -- the color variation among printers and papers is really astonishing once you start paying attention to it).
Below, by the way, is the original digital image. If someone can tell me what I am doing wrong (filters, camera selection, etc) to get such crappy original images, I would be appreciative. It looks like I haven't cleaned the lens or something. All I am using is a pretty good quality UV filter (mostly just to protect the lens) on a Nikon D50 with the stock Nikon lens.