Five tips for taking photos in the mist and fog

Tower Bridge in the fog

Rain, mist and fog all have the potential for ladling atmosphere and mood into a scene, provided that you learn their special characters. Mist, fog and enveloping cloud in the mountains offer some of the best photographic opportunities of all, bringing a subtle and gentle white or light grey minimalism to any scene. Here are a few tips on how to get the best pics on a foggy day.

1. Get up early!

Ok, so a damp, foggy morning might not look that inviting, but the weather and landscape conditions that tend to give rise to mist and fog can provide an almost magical atmosphere.

2. Use a wide-angle lens

By using a wide-angle lens and shooting close to a foreground, you can usually make use of a strong three-dimensional depth. As with snow, keep an eye on the exposure to make sure the camera’s auto system is not making the images too dark.

3. Don’t be afraid to experiment

By experimenting with your camera position you can exploit the way that fog and mist can separate parts of a scene into distinct, almost cut-out planes. This effect is at its strongest if you shoot towards the source of light (one side of a misty scene is often brighter), while shooting with the brighter part behind you tends to reduce contrast and render the scene with greater subtlety.

4. Head to the water

Early winter mornings near low-lying water have to be top of the list for atmospheric photo opportunities.

5. Bide your time

Above all, this kind of weather condition allows you to isolate subjects from their surroundings, and this is a frequent goal in photography. Swirling mist from a distance, as happens in humid weather in mountains as it drifts across hillsides, can provide a constantly changing picture, exposing a single tree or outcrop for a moment, then hiding them. In this situation, from a vantage point across the valley, for instance, use a telephoto focal length and spend some time waiting to see how the scene changes.