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Photographing in the Fog

Updated on January 13, 2015
Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0
Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0 | Source
CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source

This photographic challenge can provide loads of fun while also allowing you to entertain different facets of your photography. This project can be an opportunistic one as when fog appears and you immediately start your photo shoot or it can be created with the aid of a fog machine.

The artificial type does not look the same in photos and you will also need a large enough room in which to conduct your photo session, or at the very least a source of electricity, but it's a viable alternative to the unpredictability of finding a real fog bank and allows for a much greater extent of flexibility.

First let us understand the difference between fog and mist and how they are created.

"Fog is a collection of water droplets or ice crystals suspended in the air at or near the Earth's surface.[1] While fog is a type of a cloud, the term "fog" is typically distinguished from the more generic term "cloud" in that fog is low-lying, and the moisture in the fog is often generated locally (such as from a nearby body of water, like a lake or the ocean, or from nearby moist ground or marshes).[2] "Fog is distinguished from mist only by its density, as expressed in the resulting decrease in visibility" Wikipedia

This project has several variations from the serene scene of a misty landscape to a suspenseful creation of mystery. Record scenes of fog or mist laden landscapes preferably during the early hours or the dusk hours and take advantage if the Sun is peeking or the moon is visible to include them in the composition. Include any visible subjects such as trees, structures, or people.

If the fog is thick enough, these will appear as silhouettes, but even if it's a light mist any subject found within will become discernible but probably will not be clearly visible and this adds to the mystery of the scene. Lone subjects which are found within a fog bank make better more striking images.

You can add a colored filter to your lens to impart a color hue to the entire scene, but do this judiciously as any filter will reduce the available f-stops, and the amount of light entering the camera.

As with most night shots or with any scene where the available light is compromised or dim conditions are present, you will probably need the aid of a tripod to securely hold your gear and prevent blur while the shutter remains open.

If your intention is to recreate foggy conditions in a studio, then consider having your subject don costumes with overly exuberant appendages such as overly large ears, hands, feet, hats, and so on. You can record their images as silhouettes or allow them to be somewhat visible. Under the right conditions these images assume an air of mystery and suspense from an otherwise monotone composition.

Consider undertaking this project near specific holidays such as Halloween or for parties. A Halloween party complete with a fog machine is exceptionally entertaining and even better when you add a photographic element.

Regardless of which fog image you choose to photograph; natural or man made, the photos will assume not only an atmosphere of suspense, but the naturally occurring scenes also have the potential of becoming very nostalgic and inducing romantic ambiances.

You may also benefit from taking some photographs with a monochromatic medium or transform the images digitally into black & white, especially if the scene lacks any visible areas of interest or color.

CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source
(CC BY-ND 2.0
(CC BY-ND 2.0 | Source

Use your images for calendars, greeting cards and general photography purposes. Stay on top of weather reports to anticipate foggy or mist conditions.

Keep in mind that with natural fog banks there is a lot of moisture present so preparing your equipment against water damage is essential as being ready to take it apart and gently blot out any moisture that enters it.

Having some clean and lint free cloths is important as you will need them to wipe away condensation from the lens.

Try to record some images that have front and back elements such as a bright flowering plant which is in front of the fog and low to the ground. You should interpolate any such subjects between you and the fog to create some surreal effects and perhaps add color to the scene. Focus on the subject and let the fog blend in by using a wide aperture.

Sometimes the fog will not reach the ground but will hover just above it, if there are any colorful elements such as flowers, grasses, even boats or cars or even people focus on them and let the fog blend in, again a wide aperture is used to accomplish this. If you can reach a high altitude such as a mountain top where fog regularly occurs then shooting it from this vantage point can make for some really spectacular images.

Be ready to improvise. Often the fog will blur or hide any color from the scene and everything will just appear as a big grey mass. For occasions like this a red rose for example, placed in the center of the composition will add that color touch that will turn the image from a simple one to a great one, and almost anything that is brightly colored will do just as well. The objective is to use color to break the scene from its monotone.

CC0 1.0
CC0 1.0 | Source

Would you be willing to try photography in the fog?

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© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Thank you randomcreative, glad that you enjoyed it

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      I especially love the shot with the clock tower. Great topic!