When it comes to weather phenomenon, mist and fog should be applauded as a way of creating atmosphere and adding a sense of mystery to your landscape photography. They provide that special quality that can turn an ordinary photo composition into something extraordinary.
But to create a striking image these elements need to be handled carefully to prevent the image looking flat or the subject being lost in the fog. Here’s some advice on how best to approach these unique shooting conditions and produce a misty masterpiece.
Mist and fog can occur at any time of year, but are often more prevalent during the autumn months since they occur when there is an extreme difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures. These are natural phenomenon that occur when hot air meets cold air to form small droplets of water suspended in the air.
They usually form overnight as the temperature drops, but often last until the following morning, so you’ll need to set your alarm clock for an early start and head to a suitable photo location to catch it at its best. Unlike mist, which is quite mobile and short-lived, fog is thicker and can sometimes remain all day if there is no wind or sun to burn it off.
The best places to find pictures of mist are above or around bodies of water such as ponds, lakes, rivers and along the coast. Cool, damp valleys and natural hollows act as a reservoir for mist, but equally it can form around hilltops and over wet covered ground.
By getting out early when weather conditions are favourable you’ll soon build up a picture of where mist and fog forms in your local area, and this will be repeated, which helps when it comes to planning your shoot.
Locations that provide a high viewpoint looking over a valley or forest where there are features extending up through the mist work well. A low mist or ground fog is ideal for this, which will gently swirl around and reveal or hide elements within the landscape.
Also try immersing yourself in thick fog for a surreal experience, where compositional elements recede away from the camera. By placing a dominant subject in the foreground, it becomes the primary focal point and all other elements become secondary as they fade into the background.