Late last year, a thick foggy morning motivated me to get out of the house. Landscape or nature photography is not my forte. However, a foggy Great Falls has been on my list to shoot for a while. Unlike other areas, we generally do not have very foggy days often. On this occasion, the warm morning temperature created a thick inversion over the entire northern Virginia area. So, I got in my car and looked for a place to make some photos.
When I arrived at Great Falls Park, I knew that this would be a perfect morning for photos. Walking through the parking lot, and the park trails, the fog was still hanging in the air. I was excited about getting to the edge of the falls however, the walk through the park was just as inspiring.
Finally arriving at the edge of the falls, I propped my camera on a tripod. Though it was not very bright with the thick fog and early morning light, I put on an ND filter. This smoothed out the motion of the water, and made for some nice prints later!
Last summer was a great opportunity to photograph shore birds. Some neighbors of my mother built nesting platforms for seahawks at the end of their pier. Along Featherstone Shores large birds will congregate and fly around the area looking for food. With the new nesting platforms, there were osprey that now stayed longer term.
At this part of the river, there are many piers that jut out into the water. With the neighbor having the platforms for the shore birds, I wanted to get a closer look. In the meantime, I took out a camera with me in case there would be a chance for some action.
Quietly, I walked out to the end of the pier, and setup my position for photographing the birds at the nest. Even though I had the longest lens that I own, I was still woefully short! Indeed birding photography requires the longest lenses to get the most outstanding images! While I had this lens racked out to 200mm, you would need something much longer to get the birds properly such as 400mm or 600mm!
Fog can do a photographer a lot of favors. In our part of the world, it is not a common occurrence for us to have foggy days. So if you are looking to get images of familiar places in a new light, adding a bit of fog can be helpful. Sometimes I come upon a scene, and it is not immediately apparent where I should start. Compositions with fog gets me excited since there is a completely different feel right off the bat. I know from the beginning that I am going to get something out of the ordinary, so my creativity neurons start firing when I start looking through the camera.
Fog acts as a large light diffuser. If there is a sun above it cannot cut through the fog directly affecting your scene. It’s light is spread out across a larger area making the light cast more even. This is the reason why you see studio photographer using large boxes where they place their flashes. A larger light source will make the perceived light softer on your subjects. Fog will automatically do this for landscape scenes.
Having clear subjects in photos is also a challenge for
me. Strong photographs usually have an undeniably clear main subject. With fog
it can be easier to isolate a subject for your composition. Clouds in the sky
can sometimes make my photos too busy – the fog took care of that problem for
me! The stark emptiness adds to the mood while focusing the viewer to what ever
is left in the scene. It can give a sense of melancholy, or foreboding, but it
does achieve the goal of setting a mood.