Inclement weather can squash your enthusiasm for getting out and making photographs. Who wants to go outside when it's damp and nasty? You may want to reconsider that attitude. You want your photographs to be different than everyone else, right? Fog and snow are my favorite nasty weather conditions. We've done several blogs on the snow, so let's get into some fog.Let's talk good stuff first. Fog, haze, and mist add drama to your photographs. The light fog around the boat dock makes the image feel tranquil - the beginning of another fine day on the water. The water droplets in the fog disperse the light, like a huge softbox. The early light and mist have created a limited color palette for this simple composition. If you have a strong light source like the sun, shining through some trees, with Alaska ice fog - that stuff can hang around for days on end - you can get nice shafts of light trying to break through. The sun is going to be harsh even with the fog, so be careful pointing your camera directly into it, but it creates plenty of drama for your photo. This was last January, in Fairbanks, so the sun was only out a few hours and just skittered above the horizon when you could see it.
The fog can obscure distractions that might otherwise have a negative effect. Your viewers' eyes will concentrate on the shape and texture of objects in the foreground when the fog hides everything behind it. With the right lighting, you can direct their eyes around the image from the obvious architecture of the Lincoln Memorial, to the bit of tree limb lit by a spotlight, to the duck on the reflection of the pool. All the buildings that normally distract your viewer are hidden by the fog, colored by lights and the beginnings of sunrise to your right.
There are things to watch out for when you're out there. The fog can trick your light meter and cause an incorrect exposure. Add some exposure compensation, and check your first shot. Otherwise, you'll have to spend time correcting photos in post processing. If you want your subjects to be dark shapes, expose for the fog; if you expose for your subject, you make need to add negative exposure so they don't appear too bright. Again, check your exposure and compensate.
Another concern is the fact that fog is, obviously, composed of water droplets. This can create a problem for lenses and cameras that aren't protected with weatherproofing. Keep your gear safe by covering it when you aren't taking a shot and frequently wiping off your equipment. Put it into an airtight bag when you come in out of the weather, and allow it to slowly adjust to the difference in outside/inside temperatures and humidity. I try to give the gear at least 30 minutes to normalize, then I remove it from the bag and wipe it down again. If you ruin your gear, the penalty is harsh.
Foggy conditions can give you some interesting photos. Don't avoid the weather, embrace it. If you get out early enough, you may happen across a strange light in the old house on the Civil War battlefield - maybe it's ghosts. They can only be seen on a cold, foggy morning (by a photographer with Photoshop). ;-)
Winner! Brenda won the Crush the Composition DVD, presented by Scott Kelby. Congrats! Thanks for the comments and keep them coming, here or on our Facebook page (LINK).