Shooting in fog

Discussion in 'Nature' started by keith_dobbs, Dec 1, 2009.

  1. I recently went out in search of fog to photograph and got some decent pictures. Does anyone have any good tips for shooting in fog (lighting, distance, angles)? Will it be detrimental to my equipment if my camera and tripod are not weather sealed?
  2. Here is another shot I got.
  3. Lovely images Keith! Very nice indeed - you've really captured the diffuse beauty that fogs imparts to landscapes.

    Camera should be fine - give it a wipe from time to time to get the moisture off.
    Tips - watch for sun peeping through as there could be shafts of light spilling down through the fog when it does (if it does!) and this can give some fantastic, if fleeting, effects. Distance - make the most of the diffusion effect that fog brings - can lend pictures a very special atmosphere.
  4. depending on the density of the fog I tend to shoot it +1 off the normal meter reading. This gives it a little more 'white' rather than the murky gray that you can get. But like I said, the thickness of the fog comes into play - so bracket it to your liking.
  5. Keith, your images seem underexposed, which frequently happens when the whiteness of the fog fools the meter into underexposure. Next time you're in fog, try the following:
    Go into your exposure compensation dial/wheel, and make a bracket. First shot at +/- zero, 2nd at +1, 3rd at +1.5m and maybe one at +2.
  6. Thanks for the helpful tips! Now I just have to wait until the next time there is fog to experiment a bit more. As for the underexposed comment-It was my intent to make the first image, the one with the trees, underexposed because I wanted a more ominous feeling to go along with it. Ill definately bracket my exposures next time. Thanks.
  7. Thanks for the helpful tips! Now I just have to wait until the next time there is fog to experiment a bit more. As for the underexposed comment-It was my intent to make the first image, the one with the trees, underexposed because I wanted a more ominous feeling to go along with it. Ill definately bracket my exposures next time. Thanks.
  8. Both are fine photos but I find the first one to be a little busy with no strong focus. I would suggest looking for area with some symmetry, fewer small branches and something to draw the users attention to. I find your second photo more appealing for those reasons. However, if you find an image that works because it has no symmetry, lots of branches, and nothing to focus on, ignore my suggestions!
    Other than that brighten the images a little. Camera wipe off any condensation that developes on it while you are shooting. Since foggy days are typically cool days, put the camera in a zip lock bag before you go back inside your home and let it warm up slowly. If you don't you could get some condensation on it.
  9. Thanks for the ziplock bag suggestion. I will give that a try next time. I do see what you mean about the lack of symmetry. The forest I was shooting in has tons of undergrowth and small trees so it maybe it nearly impossible to get a shot without the small branches. Maybe I'll try shooting in a nearby pine forest soon to see what I can do.
  10. david_henderson


    Remember that reflective light meters ( like your in-camera meter) will try and turn your light coloured fog into a mid-tone if the fog dominates the area from which the meter is reading, and you'll need to increase exposure accordingly by maybe 1-2 stops for digital.
    If, like your photographs the scene is relatively complex with some dark subject in the metering zone, then your meter will be indicating a little more exposure anyway than if you wer metering pure fog, or spotmetering fog. So IMO your shot 2-which I like btw- in my view needs a stop to a stop and a quater more. If the shot had been more dominated by fog then the exposure reading given would have been less and you'd need to make a bigger adjustment. Its very like the way you need to think in the snow.
    Alternatively, spot metering can be useful in these circumstances since you can judge what you need to do to get a little detail in the trees whilst at the same time not blowing out the fog or killing its atmosphere
  11. John MacP's comment about looking for shafts of light is right on the mark. At night, streetlights in fog produce their own version of shafts of light. For example, see the image ( ) I recently posted in the "Lighted by Streetlights" thread (
    In general, one wants to be on the lookout for lighting and micro-meteorological effects which highlight the density of the fog and it's point to point variations and take photographic advantage of these to obtain contrast in the fog (ie, not just between the fog and solid objects).
    Finally, don't let yourself be so overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of foggy scenes that you let the normal rules of composition take a back seat. I make this comment because this happens to me almost every time I go out to shoot in fog ... especially if it's a well-stratified, low-lying fog (eg, radiation, advection) fog I can find a vantage point slightly above it. :)
    Tom M
    PS - There's a great article about the different types of fog in Wikipedia ( ). Understanding fog helps one find good fog photo ops.
    PPS - Don't give in to the temptation to increase the contrast in your fog pix by post processing. In many cases, doing so actually decreases the visibility of the fog rather than increasing it.
  12. stp


    A "principle" of shooting in the fog that often works well (IMO) with respect to composition is to have something close that is not as hidden by the fog, with background subjects further removed from the camera that are much more hidden by the fog.
  13. I second Stephen: close objects will give you a black look compared to the whitish fog. And I do like to use the full conrtast pallet in photos: deep black to bright white. And expose a stop longer or two than measured ...
  14. Keith, I like your first shot very much – very gloomy, very "Tim Burtonesque"!
    Very evenly distributed patterns and yet the larger trees left and right frame it subtly.
    In general I love how fog gives you this kind of layered effect depending on the objects' distance. I also agree with others, that bracketing your exposure tending towards over-exposing, might give you some interesting, atmospheric variations.
  15. Fog is your best friend. Dramatic visuals and very easy predictable exposures. Be sure not to blow out highlights or underexpose too much. In general fog makes thing very easy. Your two submitted exposures are much too dark.
  16. “Your two submitted exposures are much too dark.”​
    That is purely a matter of personal interpretation.
    When I take up the camera to capture a scene, I try to record/reproduce it as faithfully as possible especially regarding post processing. I want it to closely resemble what I saw at the time and not twist it into something different. Guided by my own memory, I will arrive at the desired result. No matter whether that might seem "too dark" or "too bright" to others, it's what I intended it to look like, and that's all that matters to me.
  17. That is purely a matter of personal interpretation.

    To me, proper exposure is not entirely personal interpretation. If you want to go around underexposing everything by two or three stops and winding up with a dark, muddy portfolio that is noisy as hell when the exposures are rescued, go for it. If you ever take pictures for someone else, or expect to have them published or printed, then people are going to ask you what the problem is. Additionally, it's best to expose to the right, even if only slightly, as that's where the majority of the image data is. You can always create an artificial underexposure on the computer if you so desire, but if you capture that way you have severely limited your options, especially if you shoot jpeg. In any case, all of your exposures are spot-on perfect, so I guess you're offering this up more as an abstract point for argumentation.
  18. “To me, proper exposure is not entirely personal interpretation.”​
    Sorry if my reply wasn't entirely clear, but I wasn't referring to the proper exposure but the end result .
  19. Keith, I love fog so much that I keep the forcast on my desktop.
    Your photos look great to me, you may want to +expose to get a little more light, but I also like a little underexposed. If you have an SLR it should be sealed well enough. Sometimes where the fog ends the rain begins so be prepared for that. I have not had an equipment issue yet shooting in the fog.
  20. Here is one of mine..........
    Some things I would suggest is to keep your camera covered as much as possible especially if the air is damp. A good lens hood is a great help in keeping the lens clean, I just love petal hoods!
    I wouldn't worry too much about the tripod. However it might be a good idea from time to time to extend the legs and spray with water from a garden hose perhaps. Be sure to get the feet. Leave the legs extended to let them dry out.
    Oh and you could try for a hi-key shot like I got here, same lighthouse, by the way.
    Good Luck
    Brian Carey

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