Some months ago I was writing a few posts about the beauty of snow and ice landscapes. Well, in this article I would like to talk about another incredible natural phenomenon which brings not only magic but tons of photographic opportunities in front of our eyes: the fog (a.k.a mist, haze, etc).
The fog can be encountered in various situations. In cities it can be usually seen in late autumn or winter, approximately between November and January. In the mountains it can be spotted all over the year, especially after a heavy rain as the moisture that gathers within the forest “encourages” it to thrive. Such haze I witnessed during the last mountain trip and got completely charmed by its beauty.
This is one of the moments when for a passionate photographer having the camera at hand is a must. But even if you are not passionate about photography it is still worth observing the phenomenon. It’s simply spectacular! Sometimes the mist gets so thick that someone barely manages to find the road. Happened this time too, however we were fortunate to know the surroundings well so we quickly found the path. So as a friendly advice it’s good to start a trip on this type of weather only if you know the area sufficiently well. And of course it’s highly recommended to start early in the morning and get back before dusk.
Back to the haze, an incredible moment that I witnessed is when the wind blew and scattered it from the surroundings. For a few seconds the sun could be seen shining and enveloping everything in light. Then after a few more minutes the fog came back and everything became misty again. This moment is hard to describe even in photos. A short clip might be more adequate but the best thing to do in my opinion is to simply watch the veiling and unveiling of the landscape with your own eyes. It’s such a pity to miss it!
From a photographic point of view the fog has two strong points. On the one hand it adds mistery to the landscape. People looking at the pictures might wonder: “What can we find behind the mist? What would we discover if we ventured there?”. On the other hand it hides many unwanted objects that could otherwise distract the attention of the viewer from the main subject. It literally transforms the landscape into a surrealistic one! And if some things can’t be totally hidden, at least they will be beautifully rendered into unique charming shapes.
Now I would like to share with you some of my findings regarding capturing this phenomenon on the camera sensor:
- I usually use manual mode when photographing fog as the light is relatively constant. However from time to time it is worth checking to ensure no massive overexposure occurs, especially when fog is scattered by wind. By the way, I’m planning to write a future post about using manual exposure in general. So stay tuned!
- Also in most photos I strive to obtain a transition from clear areas to misty ones, i.e. the foreground would be clear and visible with visibility decreasing gradually while moving towards the background. However there might be situations when “fog everywhere” aids the artistic expression by helping create extremely beautiful surrealistic shapes. An example is the fourth photo below (trees).
- Regarding foreground I think it should contain an interesting element that enhances the dramatism of the photograph, like a tree, a house or at least a path (see for example the first two pictures below). If this is not possible then in my opinion the best solution would be to shrink it as much as possible. As examples I would recommend the photos taken within the forest (see below).
- Unlike other types of landscape photos I shoot fog at all times on a misty day. This is because fog acts as a natural and very effective light diffuser. Of course when shooting at sunrise or dusk the dramatic effect is highly increased but I find other times of the day (including noon) acceptable too.
I hope you’ll find these pieces of advice useful. That said I will now apply the “one photo is more than 1000 words” principle and let the pictures do the further “talking”. Enjoy and take care!
PS. Check these posts too: