Mist will simplify the landscape, reducing it to a series of shapes, layers, and outlines. Your assignment is to capture its effect, and then to select your best single shot. Look for an obvious focal point to either isolate or use as an anchor for your composition-maybe a landmark, boat, animal, or shapely tree. Shooting from a lower level, down amongst the mist, can also produce stunning results. As you will soon discover, results can appear high-key and almost monochromatic.
Mist and fog can occur at any time of the year, but they are most likely during spring and fall. The most appealing type for photography is “radiation tog;’ which forms during clear, still nights due to the ground losing heat via radiation. In simple terms, the ground cools nearby air to saturation point and an attractive white layer of mist forms. Although it is impossible to predict just where and when mist will occur, or how dense it will be, by studying the weather forecast you will increase your chances of success. Look for cool, clear nights with a low wind speed, then set your alarm clock for an early start the following morning.
You will need to think carefully about location choice. Elevated viewpoints above the fog provide vistas of the mist hanging evocatively in valleys and immersing countryside and villages. You may even witness a cloud inversion when the combination of cold temperatures and high pressure create dense low-level mist, with only hills and peaks poking up above it. Large bodies of water can act like mist generators in the right conditions, so opting for a viewpoint overlooking a lake will enhance your chances.
View the images
- Telephoto lenses are typically best suited to misty conditions. Try using a 70-300mm telephoto zoom lens to condense perspective and exaggerate the mist.
- Just like snow exposures (see page 94), bright mist has a habit of fooling through-the-lens (TTL) metering systems into underexposing a shot. Review your histogram regularly and expect to apply positive exposure compensation to achieve the correct exposure.
- When you set your alarm, allow extra driving time as your journey is likely to be slower due to poor driving conditions and reduced visibility.
- Mist can rise or evaporate quickly, so work efficiently to make the most of the rapidly changing conditions.
- Telephoto zoom lens of about 70-300mm