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Essential Tips For Capturing Landscapes In Fog & Mist

Here are a few tips to help you capture outdoor shots on misty days.

|  Landscape and Travel
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Fog and mist give instant mood, adding an extra level of environmental interest to your shots. You actually do not have to do anything special apart from just being out in it with your camera. So, whether you are walking the dog or on your daily commute to work it is worth having a camera with you for those unmissable mist images.



Photo by David Clapp



Any camera is good for mist photography and you can use any lens too, so just stick to your favourite combination. There is nothing wrong with using a top-end compact if carrying a DSLR around with you is not feasible.


In terms of lens choice, a wide-angle lets you show the tonal differences between foreground and misty background in a gradual way. Look for bold foreground detail and strong lines (rocks, trees, pathways, rivers etc) to make the most of this effect.

Foreground is just as important with telephoto lenses. Shoot a misty scene with no foreground and there is no perspective, no sense of depth. This can work fine but most scenes need some foreground interest to give that three-dimensional quality and the tonal transition is much more abrupt.

Ultra-Violet Or Skylight Filter

You probably already have your lenses fitted with an ultra-violet or skylight filter; if you don't it is a worthwhile consideration if you bear in mind that a filter is cheaper to replace than a lens.  On misty days when you can have tiny water droplets settling on your lens this will affect image sharpness, so being able just to wipe them off without being too delicate is a bonus.



If you have room it's a good idea to pack your tripod as exposures can be on the long side as not much sunlight will be able to get through the fog/mist you're photographing. It should also help you keep horizons straight too, although some cameras feature a level or some sort of grid-guide that can help you level your camera for straight horizons. 



Photo by David Clapp


Valleys And Low-Lying Areas

Mists forms in low-lying areas (valleys, for example) and over water so if you fancy the idea of shooting mists, those are the sorts of places to head for. To add a touch of mysticism or eeriness to your work head for thick wooded areas where fog and mist will weave around the trees.

Meters Can Be Fooled

Camera meters are often fooled into underexposing misty scenes so they come out looking very grey, rather than light and airy which usually looks better. Setting +0.5EV or +0.7EV will help avoid this. In strongly backlit scenes you might need up to a +1 or +2 exposure value to record the delicacy of the mist.

Shooting in Raw and doing the adjustment later is an option but it makes sense to get it right in the first place.

Work Quickly

Finally, remember to get there in plenty enough time so if there is a mist, you have time to scout a few good spots and then decide which is best. Conditions can change very rapidly, so shoot quickly, perhaps bracketing exposures, and then move on.

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MrDennis 10 266 Wales
23 Sep 2015 6:32PM

Gannet flying through the Thick Fog at Bempton Cliffs 2015.

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