Photographs of scenes or subjects nearly shrouded in fog are often atmospheric and can evoke a strong emotional response from the viewer. When fog sets in, an ordinary landscape may suddenly appear eerie, mysterious, or melancholy and it can be a wonderful opportunity to capture the mood in a photo.
Although shooting with fog does come with its own set of challenges, these can be readily addressed and you can focus on taking stunning images.
Consider how fog changes the appearance of your surroundings so you can make allowances in your compositions:
- Fog desaturates colors – in the presence of fog, colors generally lose a great amount of their brightness and saturation.
- Fog lessens tonal contrast – fog acts like a giant softbox which diffuses light and scatters it over a wider area. Contrast is significantly reduced.
- Fog hides details – depending on the density of the fog, objects can lose a certain amount of detail. If the fog is very thick, these objects can even totally disappear.
Tips on photographing in fog:
When shooting in fog, you will most likely need to use exposure settings for low-light situations (a combination of a slow shutter speed, large aperture size, higher ISO number). It is ideal to use a tripod to lessen camera shake (How Does Your Camera Image Stabilizer Work?).
Fog is like snow in that it is highly reflective to light. This can confuse your in-camera light meter into reading the scene as being very bright and it could underexpose the shot. You may have to do some exposure compensation to rectify this. Take a few test shots and experiment with the exposure settings to figure out which you prefer the most. Learn more about light and exposure here Understanding Camera Exposure.
Fog may decrease color and contrast, and hide details such as textures, but you can use it to highlight interesting shapes. Fog usually turns objects into silhouettes, and these can be quite stunning in a well-composed shot. Make use of negative space and minimalism to keep the focus on the object’s shape.
Normally, fog can make a subject or scene appear flat since details which accentuate form, such as textures and shadows, are reduced. However, you can still use fog to highlight depth in your shot. Objects near to the camera may appear clearly visible and defined, while those further away appear more hazy and more of a silhouette. This difference can enhance the sense of depth in your photo (How To Creatively Use Depth Of Field In Your Photos).
In case you are looking for foggy areas, it is usually near the ground and near water, and fog usually appears early at night to early morning. Fog can also appear in various ways: it can be thin, evenly diffused, and stationary, or dense and moving steadily with the wind. Sometimes fog can dissipate quickly so you have to be fast when taking photos. Other times, it can become so thick you can barely see what’s in front of you. Needless to say, be careful when shooting outdoors in fog and always be aware of your surroundings, especially these are unfamiliar territory.