We have all had them, those foggy mornings. Mornings where nothing is clear, no matter what you try. There is always something that remains hidden. Impossible to create a complete picture of what you are trying to see. Just when you get closer, the details reveal themselves, only to have the past views closed off to you. It’s like walking in a dark place with only a candle in your hand.
Some people have that foggy feeling every morning, others will search that sensation of being alone while surrounded by everything. Mist or fog in the morning creates a very special feeling for those who dare to go out and experience it. Not just to drive or walk though it, but to experience the eerie sense of solitude.
Fog or mist can come in many different densities. The worst (or best) is the one where you can hardly see what is in front of you. The one you get while walking in the clouds in the mountains. One second you have full view of the valleys, then next you see only a grey veil around you, disorienting you to the point where you could walk off a cliff without hesitation. For photography, that would not be the best fog to experience .
A little bit of mystery and imagination goes a long way. Showing a grey veil with nothing else like the thick mist I described above is not very photogenic. No, photographers need a little bit of detail and a lot of mystery to make the fog work for them.
Running through the cover of mist
Over the years I have always tried to go out into the fog, whenever the occasion arose. Sometimes at midnight, sometimes in the morning. It’s the morning mist that is the most magical. The morning light from a sunrise not too far away gives the hope of a beautiful day, without giving anything away but quietness. And the occasional deer, running away from the blissful human.
Bridge into infinity
Finding the photogenic spots can be tricky. In normal, clear weather, we have the impression that everything will do in the mist. But the best places for me are the ones that provide a path into the mist, into the unknown. A rail bridge is one of the better subjects for me. The eye is drawn into the mist, into oblivion, into a dream world, just out of reach. At the same time, it’s a railway, anything can come out of there as well.
Into the distance
Railways make for great fog subjects. For those who wonder if there is any danger walking, sitting or lying down for these pictures, a simple glance at the state of rust on the rails might provide an answer. Behind me was a 6 feet high snowbank covering the railway. Snow plows had made sure that no living train could come through there.
Fog pictures are all about the leading lines, lines that make your eyes move towards a certain point in a picture. While this is true for most pictures, misty pictures accentuate that effect. Whatever is in the foreground is mostly clear and visible, then the eye wanders off into the distance.
The promise of a little bit of sunshine through the fog is a bonus. In normal times, it wouldn’t come into my mind to shoot a hydro pole all by itself. They may have some attraction for some people, but I am not part of them. The less I see them, the better I always think my pictures will be. Yet I seem to always end up with hydro lines or poles somewhere in my shots. Fog takes away that harsh contrast between the cables and the sky, making the shot acceptable.
Just a road
Just a country road and fog are the best combinations for a foggy morning. These mornings are even better if there is no traffic to be “enjoyed”. Silence, and light. That’s all I need for my foggy mornings. And for those who wonder what the difference is between “fog” and “mist”, photographically the effect is the same; fog is a cloud that reaches ground level, even if that "ground" is a hill or mountaintop. Mist forms wherever water droplets are suspended in the air by temperature inversion, volcanic activity, or changes in humidity. Fog is denser than mist and tends to last longer.
Until next time…