The Beauty Of Photographing Mists and Fogs

Taking photos in fog or mist can be either very good or very bad. It can either set a beautiful atmosphere in your photos or it can very easily make your photos look hazy and washed-out. This article will explain how to get the best photographs possible when working in these environments.

If you are planning on shooting in the fog, the best time is during the evening hours or very early in the morning. Fog is also a lot more common near water (Ex. Lakes, Rivers) as it is it warms up all the air surrounding it. Throughout this article, we will mainly be discussing fog; however, the same concept applies to mist.

Shooting photos while in fog is obviously a lot different then your common photography within warm and beautiful weather. Your subject matters are not as clear or defined and the distinction of the color saturation is minimized. It's a normal flexible box which disperses light sources so the light comes from all angles and is much broader. The bad thing about this is that is reduces the contrast of photos dramatically.

Fog can be used as a very powerful effect when you emphasize the lighting, depth and outline of subject matters. It's these things that can make the whole scene feel beautifully mysterious, giving your photos a professional edge. The fog is well loved by photographers because of this reason. With fog, you can be uniquely creative with your shooting and create prize photos.


Emphasizing Depth

There are not set rules when shooting during dense fog. Remember, you're the photographer and photography is a creative hobby so how you use the fog and what you do is entirely up to you. It's good practice to try and get some of the subject matter near the camera lens when shooting to get a clearer picture. By getting subject matter close to the camera, your final photo will hold high contrast as well as color which is exactly what you need for a prize photo.

Emphasizing Light

With fog, the light source is much more scattered than it normally would be due to the water droplets which have formed the fog. This softens the light and at the same time makes streaks of light noticeable from the intensity of many light sources. A good example for you to think of is a photograph of a forest in early morning light where the picture is taken in the course of the light and the light is streaking through the trees and spruces as well as the leafage. Search online for photographs of this sort of image to get a better idea.

When taking photos in the fog, you want to make the light rays show off a varying quality to it that will give your finished photo the atmosphere you want. To do this, you need to plan out your shooting point. The rays of light will become most visible when you’re shooting near, although not directly at the source. This will ensure the abundant lights will be bright, streaking and split off from all the dark scenes.

Shapes with all of their Silhouettes


The fog can dramatically articulate you're subject matters as it devalues their structural contrast. Sometimes the subject matter can be made into nothing but a husk of a silhouette. When taking photographs in the fog, always ensure you exposed based on how the fog itself is rather than the subject depending on whether it matters if it appears as a darkened silhouette. You may even want to try some of the negative exposure options to ensure that the objects and subject does not look too bright in the finished photo.

Photographing without Help

It’s potentially difficult to get a sense of the scale when shooting in the fog, just as it would photographing in a forest to get the light streaks from the source above. You can't just walk into a forest and start photographing; you’ll need to look at the forest from the outside to find its limitations. Think of the saying "It's difficult to photograph a forest from within". The same thing applies to fog and mist.

By following this rule when shooting in the fog, it is possible that you will capture the beautiful moody effects in your photo.

Time the Fog just right for the Best Results

When shooting in the fog, timing is essential as this will help when defining the appearance of the light in the final photo. There is a variety of different fogs. We have thick clumpy fog and thin layered fog etc. The layer of the fog tends to naturally adjust with time so getting the right time is something that needs to be done to ensure maximum quality. It can be very difficult judging this though as the human eyes need to adjust to certain settings so changing contrasts very quickly is a must.

Another consideration that you will need to keep in mind is the texture of the fog. When shooting, the fog’s original texture may change quickly. What I recommend is that you adjust speed of your shutter on the camera (Do it in less then a second if possible) to attempt to try and stop the fog’s texture from smoothening out which could make a flat and washed-out photograph in the end. But if the fog is moving slowly, you may get away with longer exposures.

Doing a shorter exposure tends to do a lot cleaner of a job of keeping motion of the fog still which can create some great photos. There will also be a bigger at 100% impact of the image noise will be at its full size. This is actually a very common problem when shooting photos in the fog as the fog generally comes out later in the day to early morning so light source isn't great. The fog can also reduce the light that your camera receives which can cause problems. If you’re trying to stay away from the noise, it's not a great idea freezing the motion.

Watch out for rain

When photographing in the fog, you need to watch out for condensation. Why? Well, condensation is small water droplets and this can cause the lens of your camera to become blurred. This is why it may be a good idea to bring an absorbent cloth along with you to wipe away any condensation if you’re unlucky enough to get it. Thankfully, there is ways to prevent this from happening though. Before leaving the warmth of your home to the cold outside, you should carry it in a sealed and airtight plastic bag. You can only open the bag once the camera inside is at the equal temperature as it is outside. This will generally take about 30 minutes to an hour for the temperatures to match. It's simple science really.

Sometimes, condensation can be unavoidable though so again; it's advised that you bring an absorbent cloth along to wipe the lens clean.