Photographing foggy landscapes
Don’t worry about “bad” weather – find a way to use it to your advantage! Instead of waiting for warmer months or staying inside until the cold autumn or winter mornings have cleared, why not try venturing out in the fog? Foggy landscapes can be full of atmosphere and interest. Especially down by rivers and lakes you can find moody scenes just waiting to be captured on camera. Sometimes, they will work better as black and white or tinted monochrome or split-tone instead of full colour. Experiment until you find a look that you like!
Because of the lower light, you will often find that you need to use a tripod. Slow shutter speeds are common for landscape photography anyway, so you should get used to using a tripod if you want to be a landscape photographer. You may also find it helpful to invest in a cleaning cloth that has anti-fog properties so that your lenses and filters don’t fog up too easily. We want to record something of the foggy landscape around us, not the fog on the lens!
You will often find that fog is densest near to rivers and lakes. If you have a wide body of water in front of you then you may not see much of the far shore. It can, however, work really well to have trees in the distance that are silhouetted. Foggy images are not often about the details of the landscape showing up in the usual way. We find that shapes become more important than colours. The fog naturally blurs some details, too, of course. Early in the morning, you may find that some of the light of sunrise is diffused through the fog to created patterns of light or that it colours the fog slightly. Yes, it is quite unpredictable how things will turn out. But, it is worth the effort as you will often be rewarded by something more unusual to your “normal” images.
When processing foggy landscapes you may find that monochrome works better than colour. You can also play around a lot with contrast. A very soft image may be the feel you are after. Or, you might pump up the contrast to create bold silhouettes. There is no real “right” answer. Sometimes, a slight blue tint can help to convey the feeling of a cold morning, for example.
Here are a few examples of foggy landscapes to inspire you to try your own:
© Joe Lenton, 2014