How to Get the Best Photographs in Foggy Conditions

Weather: the most unpredictable aspect of the photography craft. You can carefully track all the weather forecasts, and chances are that the weather will do something totally unexpected.

This is often an issue in areas located close to water or in humid climates. These areas will often deal out plenty of mist and fog. The difference between mist and fog is where the water droplets come from. Fog is a cloud that hits ground level while mist is made up of water droplets rising up from the ground due to temperature differences.

Photo by Cris

Haze, on the other hand, is caused by air pollution and it occurs when light is reflected off of it. Haze isn’t even always caused by exhaust pollution – a simple dust cloud is enough to cause it.

For the sake of discussing how all these conditions affect photography, I’ll just refer to them all as “foggy.”

Dealing With Foggy Weather

There are several things that you need to understand when planning to shoot in foggy scenarios. The high humidity in the air causes condensation. Condensation creates water, and water doesn’t go well with electronics. If your camera is weather-sealed, you are probably okay for extended periods of time. If your camera isn’t weather sealed, you should be okay as long as you are really careful. Stay on the safe side and keep your camera as dry as possible.

The same goes for your lens, too. The lens has electronic components inside. Those electronics drive the focus motor and the image stabilization (if there is any), so they need to be kept safe and dry.

Photo by Arno Hoyer

Humidity might also mess up your front lens element, requiring you to wipe it from time to time, but that shouldn’t be a major issue.

Creative Uses Of Foggy Scenarios

You’ll usually find mist in the air in high altitude locales or near water in the early hours of the day. You can use that weather for portraiture during sunrise since the mist will create a lot of interesting atmosphere. It will also bend the light a bit, adding some neat depth to your images.

Photograph mountains in the same setting and the mist will create layers between mountains. This layering effect helps distinguish which mountains are closer to the foreground and which are further away.

Photo by Dzvonko Petrovski

You can also combine layering with portraiture in the early hours. Shoot a portrait against a background that has layers to create an additional interesting element in the image.

Photo by chauromano

During humid mornings, you can often find passages, roads, and paths in the woods steeped in a dense, low fog. This phenomena can be used to your advantage in order to create gloomy shots of the forest. Incorporate elements like trees, flowers, rain droplets, and so on. You can also photograph portraits or even pets in such a setting. Scenes like that are perfect for melancholic photographs, which are pretty hot on the market, at the moment.

Photo by Susanne Nilsson

Rising above the fog or mist in the morning or at the end of the day can afford you the opportunity for some captivating photographs. A few items peaking through a dense blanket of fog, with the sun projecting a low, angular light certainly calls for a dramatic shot. The angular position of the sun will make the fog look a bit more three-dimensional with much more depth and detail. It will also add an orange hue to the light shaft, casting nice long shadows from the things peaking through the fog or mist. To achieve this, you’d need to be standing around 600-800 meters above ground level in order to rise above the fog. This is the usual altitude range at which the fog stops appearing. Depending on your weather conditions, you might have to go even higher, but it shouldn’t be that much more.

Photo by Bitterroot

Summary

Fog, mist, haze, and every other variety of atmosphere-obscuring phenomena can be used to your advantage if you are creative enough. There are millions of samples to get inspired from, so do some research, craft some ideas, and head out there to shoot. Don’t let the fog stop you. As a creative individual, you should be able to think outside the box and use every resource at your disposal. Let nothing get in your way!