Get Your Head Into The Fog

Tips to capture the dramatic effects of fog.

When moisture is suspended in the air near the earth’s surface, fog is the result. Fog is essentially a low-lying cloud. The way a cloud and fog differ is based on elevation. Clouds are found at higher elevations and are broad based, while fog is locally created by moisture from lakes, rivers, streams or coastal ocean waters. It can be thick and soupy or thin and airy. Both forms produce dramatic results. Here are some ways to best capture the drama.

Exploit the Mood: Fog photography is all about capturing a mood. Since its density often varies by the minute, no two moments will be the same. As it rolls in and recedes, be cognizant of important compositional elements and wait until they’re prominent. As the fog rolls in, be aware of what’s hidden and what’s exposed. Keep your eye up to the viewfinder because the moment at which everything comes together may be short lived. This is especially true if the sun peaks through. It will highlight varying parts of the composition. Press the shutter when it illuminates key elements.

Tips to capture the dramatic effects of fog.

Protect Your Gear: Fog can be thick or thin. The thicker it is, the greater the potential to build up condensation on your camera, lens, tripod and front element. Carry a chamois to wipe off any moisture. If condensation accumulates on the front element, the image will lack contrast and the focus will appear soft. Periodically wipe down the camera to prevent water issues. This is especially true if it’s salt-water fog. If it is, be sure to wipe down all your gear with fresh water on a damp rag to prevent corrosion. I carry a shower cap and place it over my camera and lens to add a layer of protection.

Tips to capture the dramatic effects of fog.

Nail It: Fog has many moods. They can be enhanced via the exposure at which the image is made. The darker the exposure, the more ominous the mood. With this in mind, I strongly encourage you to bracket your exposures as you’ll also be bracketing the mood of the photo. Post processing can further enhance the effect, but it’s essential that your exposures are nailed to pull the most from your files. If the sun filters through the fog, be careful of blown-out highlights—watch for blinkies and check your histogram often. If the contrast range gets excessive, bracket your exposures and postprocess using HDR software. Finally, since fog tends to produce flat conditions that lack contrast, be sure you place your focus sensor on a spot that can acquire focus. If the conditions are very flat, you may need to switch to manual focus.

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Photography is what motivates me to move through life in a positive way. Photography is ͞All About The Light͟ and it’s the first thing I seek out before I press the shutter. Optimally, I pursue great subjects in great light, but if there’s an ordinary subject in great light, I still press the shutter. I love to share the photographic knowledge I’ve accumulated and I hope my enthusiasm is contagious so I can motivate others to feel the same way I do about my photography.

4 Comments

    First off, let me say thank you for sharing all your vast knowledge. I receive around 20 other newsletters, but your’s are the most informative and useful. This article was very helpful, as we are about to go on a cruise to Alaska, and as I understand, there are going to be a lot of mornings with foggy scenes.

    Thanks Skip – have a great trip and I hope you capture many winning images. The mood that fog presents is unique. You certainly will get some fog in AK – enjoy it!

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