Foggy weather can symbolize many things. Its eeriness has an element of magic, and many people enjoy the peace that a hazy morning brings. Many photographers enjoy capturing unique shots when the clouds are low, too, but doing so is far from easy.
Taking photos in mist or fog requires you to think more carefully about your composition, and choosing your equipment wisely will also help you capture more interesting results. So, how exactly do you improve your foggy photography?
Keep reading, and you’ll discover eight tips for taking better pictures in mist and fog. Our advice also works for haze and smog.
1. Isolate a Single Subject
If you look at your favorite photos, you’ll notice that many are pretty simple. You’ll see two main subjects at most, and you will almost instantly know what the photographer wants you to draw your eyes toward.
In foggy or misty weather, the subjects aren’t that clear—especially if they’re in the background. Your best bet is to adopt a minimalistic approach and isolate one thing that you think looks interesting.
Examples of subjects you can isolate include:
2. Manually Focus Your Lens Instead of Using Autofocus
Autofocus is an incredibly helpful feature, and many photographers go through their entire careers without needing to use something else. But if you’re taking photos in foggy weather, you should strongly consider manually focusing your lens instead.
Foggy weather makes it difficult for your camera to determine what it should track, hindering your final image. If you keep getting suboptimal results, switching your focus mode to manual will probably help.
Manual focusing is tricky when you first try it, so you might need to experiment a little before getting comfortable.
3. Prepare for Your Photoshoot in Advance
Storytelling is one of the most crucial aspects of a good picture, and foggy and misty weather is no different. If you take an aimless image, your viewers might get confused about what exactly they’re supposed to look at.
You can’t know for certain what will happen when you go out with your camera, but preparing in advance will at least cover you in most scenarios. Think about the type of shooting opportunities you’ll likely have available on the day, and consider the equipment you think will do the best job for you.
Rather than publishing single shots, you might want to think about how all of your images combined will form a story. You can later post them as a carousel on Instagram or—if you’re feeling particularly creative—make a Reel instead.
4. Use Wider Aperture
Modern camera lenses have a broad aperture range, with wider ones letting in more light and narrower ones doing the opposite. Depending on your lens, you might have f/2, 1.8, or 1.4 as the widest possible; in other instances, you might only be able to widen it to 5.6.
When you photograph in foggy weather, you’ll want your subject to stand out as much as possible. To do this, you’re probably better off using a wider aperture. Doing so will also help if the lighting is low, and you’ll avoid grain in your photos because you won’t need to raise your ISO.
If you want to use a wider aperture, you will—in most cases—need to buy a wide-angle lens.
5. Use a Lens With a Longer Focal Length
If you don’t want to use a wide-angle lens for taking photos in the fog, fear not—lenses with a longer focal length are also incredibly useful. When we talk about longer focal lengths, let’s say anything above 50mm for convenience’s sake.
When you use a lens with a longer focal length, you can cut unnecessary noise from your picture and hone in on what you want the viewer to look at. As a result, your images will have less of a chaotic feel than they would if you tried to cramp multiple things in the shot.
6. Consider Interesting Perspectives
If you look on any social media platform, you’ll notice that a lot of the pictures look similar these days. While imitation is an important part of the learning process, you probably won’t stand out if you copy everyone else.
Foggy and misty weather allows you to try a whole range of unique perspectives. If you live in a big city, you can try to find vantage points where you’re above the clouds (just make sure you don’t trespass on private property). Similarly, you can also try taking pictures from the water or even consider black-and-white photography.
7. Get Your White Balance Right
Getting your white balance right is a good starting point if you want to take better photos without trying much. Many beginner photographers neglect this aspect, but they don’t realize that they make post-production much trickier by doing so.
You can use one of several methods to alter the white balance on your camera. Adjusting the Kelvin meter is one easy option, and another is to take a picture of a sheet of paper—or another white background—in the lighting conditions you aim to shoot in.
By adjusting your white balance, you’ll ensure that the colors of the mist or fog look natural—and so will everything else in your picture.
8. Use Light to Your Advantage
Fog or mist might seem like a detriment for many photographers, but you can get incredible results if you use lighting to your advantage. The conditions of the time you shoot can dramatically alter the moods that your images evoke; sunrise might feel more dreamy than an overcast sky, which will look pretty moody.
Depending on where you live, you might experience mist or fog at different times throughout the day or year. So, keep track of it.
Fog and Mist Photography Can Be Stunning, but It Isn’t Easy
Foggy and misty weather are excellent opportunities to take unique photos that will wow people. However, getting the best shots requires a little more thinking than several other photography genres.
When capturing pictures in the fog and mist, think about where you can find unique vantage points and consider styles that aren’t frequently used. You’ll also need to think about your equipment, plus the lighting conditions. Factor all of these in, and you can get exceptional results.
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