It was late October in Maine: 38 degrees and raining. But this was a nature photography workshop and the instructor, Brenda Tharp, was determined that we were going to get in our shooting time. So instead of hanging out in the classroom or seeking out a cozy pub, we reluctantly donned our rain gear and followed her into the woods.
What we found there was a magical world of soft light, raindrops on mosses, richly saturated tree bark, and moisture that hung so heavily in the air you could barely see the path ahead. Although we were dripping wet and shivering, and our hands were so cold we could barely operate the camera controls, we all got our best shots of the week. I learned an important lesson that day, more than 15 years ago:
If you shoot when no one else does, you get images no one else gets.
Over the years, I have especially become a fan of dense, foggy weather. If I’m at home, I will walk out into our woods or take a quick drive to the lake. If I’m on Amelia Island, I head for the river, marsh or maritime forest. One of the things I love most about the Blue Ridge Mountains is the frequency of fog and low clouds. Sometimes it gets so thick that you have to turn around or wait it out; driving ahead isn't an option. And if I’m fortunate enough to be in Northern California when the coastal fog rolls in, I head for the hills, where I can sometimes get above it all. The mood created by fog is almost mystical. Both people and animals slow their pace, as if in another time or world. It is almost always very quiet—perhaps because most people stay indoors if they can. I find it incredibly peaceful.
What is your favorite weather—whether for photography or simply enjoying life? Do you have a special fog experience to share?
If you have ever tried photographing fog, you may have experienced seeing it with your eyes but not in your images. It plays tricks on the camera meter. To capture the fog in your images, you need to open up by ½ to 1 ½ stops, depending upon the density of the fog. Try bracketing your shots by ½-stop increments on the “+” side of the aperture scale.