It be a bit foggy out there

10th April 2014
Sunrise and sunsets are nice - but there's something sickly sweet about them. You can only have so much. A bit like sugar they have an instant kick but often that's all. After a while they are a bore to look at. So give me a foggy day any day. Whereas in life we are always trying to see the big picture - with mist and fog the landscape changes so that we only get glimpses of that picture and as such it makes us, the viewer, look harder. Less is certainly more when it comes to photography.

Fortunately, living on an Island provides plenty of misty days. Unfortunately, many of these are accompanied by rain and wind. But, get a day where it's misty and not too wet then it's worthwile getting out there...and you get the whole day...there's no such thing as the golden hour - it's now the grey day! As such any little glimpses of colour appear to be magnified.

Metering in the Mist. You're inbuilt camera meter is likely to get confused in fog, (the same goes for snow - or anything where the majority of the image is of one particular reflective quality). It thinks the whole scene is 18% grey and as a result it's likely to under expose the shot. So if you take a reading off the mist and it shows F/8 @ 1/125th Sec - you actually need to dial in some compensation and shoot at F8 1/30 for bright fog or 1/60th for more dense grey fog. In essence, we are trying to expose at zone 5 (18% grey) whereas the fog is likely to be in zones 7 or 6. Your camera thinks zone 7 is zone 5! So we therefore increase the exposure by 1 or 2 stops. Think of it this way - on the same day at the same time you've got two walls in front of you - one all black and one all white - when shooting the black wall your camera would read it as being very dark - (remember - it thinks it's 18% grey and will try and expose the wall so it's this colour) and therefore would increase the exposure time whereas with the white wall it'll think it's bright and reduce the exposure. However, both walls should actually be shot at the same exposure. Somewhere between the two exposures would be correct.

The Photos

Start looking for shapes and patches of clear air in amongst the mist. For shapes - trees are perfect.

Plantations are great....although they can be a bit eerie....but that's what you are after!

and don't forget about metal trees!

With this shot the colourful green mosses appear more vibrant due to the grey surroundings.

Black and white is also a good option and if the sun is trying to break through don't be afraid of shooting into the sun. The fog acting as a natural density filter.

As the fog lifts and falls there will be gimples of the landscape which adds to the intruige.

Other than the thick mist we are also treated on the Island to coastal fog and mist on the hill tops.

During Spring and Autumn look out for mist forming on the hill tops, particularly when there's a slight breeze, as the evening sun drops along with the temperature.

Sea mist/coastal fog is the number one for dramatic images - espcially if you can get above the fog and also if there's enough about for it to populate the valleys.

As the sun rises/sets you can get the rays passing through the low cloud and creating excellent shadows in the mist.

Although it's easy not to bother when it's not looking too great out there....think the opposite. This really is the time to be out.

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