Shooting in a Fog?

A lonely walk? What feelings does this image portray?

A lonely walk? What feelings does this image portray?

Fog. It doesn’t happen every day. Get out and go shoot it!

A foggy morning, a misty evening an afternoon haze are all fantastic opportunities to take photographs with rare and special qualities. Be ready when they come along to make the most of them.

The white atmosphere that these weather conditions share separates your subject from the background, accentuates shape and creates silhouettes. This is a great time to shoot FAST and  FOCUS attention on your subject and THINK and about your composition and framing.


  • Emphasizes depth
  • Emphasizes shapes as silhouettes
  • Emphasizes light beams
  • Separates objects from background
  • Creates low contrast
  • Creates low saturation
  • Creates tremendous composition options

Fog creates an immediate sense of depth by whiting out the background for you. It is one of those magic times that occurs when the weather is changing from cold to warm, usually in the morning or evening so you need to be prepared to get up and go when the chance comes along. Fog can be challenging too because your image can become muddy and gray if not considered when you shoot FAST. Remember that your camera light meter wants to average out the view to neutral gray and so your foggy shots will look gray unless your THINK to make a change so your camera gets it right.

Important: Make sure you turn OFF your flash. Think of fog lights in your car. If the flash goes off the fog will reflect it back and you will get a wall of detailess white. Smartphones: To avoid gray lifeless images try setting your scene mode to Snow or Sand mode to keep the whites fresh and bright.


These images invoke a sense of sadness and loneliness that would not have been possible without the special effect a foggy morning offered. Foggy weather is inherently strong for graphic possibilities. Low contrast, subdued color and lots of shape, it is a paradise of opportunities to practice tic-tac-toe (rule of thirds) framing.

Fog helps increase your compositional “Signal to Noise”. Your photography has a subject that you want to convey a thought or feeling which is the “Signal” you are communicating. A distracting background creates visual “Noise” to distract the viewer. Fog removes or subdues the background for you, automatically increasing the emotional “Signal” in your image. I have an article coming that looks at signal to noise as part of the THINK collection. (gg 13 Jan ’14)

Compacts and DSLRs: Set your exposure compensation to + 1 or +2 to brighten up the shot.

Last Saturday a warm foggy morning greeted Toronto after a bitter freezing spell. I took the opportunity to take a few shots with my smartphone to illustrate that you can take advantage of every situation with any camera if you shoot FAST. I used foreground detail to create a smile, The middle shot is the same church with tree branches to break up the white sky and frame the spires. The third shot separates an historic building from its gleaming 21st century neighbourhood.

Smartphone: These images were shot with an entry level Samsung Galaxy Ace point smartphone with Backlight scene mode.

THINK about it. If you want to take a shot of something specific and go out on a foggy day you will have to hunt for it in the fog. That means you will have to move about and look around. It is a discovery process that make you THINK about where to go to see your subject. It will also challenge you with composition framing as well as exposure.

Take a look at the random collection of foggy photographs in the link below. and spot the silhouettes strong graphic qualilites. Notice how often the images follow the tic-tac-toe grid or deliberate break it for serenity or other moods. Google “Fog Photo“.

Compact Digital Users!

Remember that you can get the same foggy look in the mist as well as in rain or snow fall. In every case you are out in the weather so you need to protect your gear.

Protect and keep your lens free from condensation or water.

Keep your camera close to the exterior temperature so it does not fog up. Keep it in an external bag or pocket not a warm pocket.

DSLR Users!

Professional Tip: Fog machines are almost mandatory equipment for many dramatic films, TV commercials and ads. A very light haze in the room will ad subtle atmosphere and separate the subject from the set often in conjunction with a telephoto lens. Heavier hazes will create another time, nostalgic look or mood.

I have an article coming that looks at how to take the special qualities fag creates an use them in any situation, any time the situation calls for it. (gg 13 Jan ’14)

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