One of my favorite conditions to shoot film is in the fog.
It creates a mood and atmosphere that I love and can turn even the most ordinary scene into something magical and mysterious.
If you’re looking to take your favorite film camera into mist, here are a few tips that have been helpful for me when photographing a foggy morning!
1. Plan Ahead for Shooting Fog
The first thing I’ll say if you’re wanting to take photos in the fog is to plan ahead. While fog is more common in some places than others, it is a weather pattern that can be predicted wherever you are.
Take a look at your weather app for that “fog” icon the night before you plan to shoot, or if you’re really into meteorology, look for a combination of atmospheric cooling and high relative humidity, and you should be in store for some foggy conditions the next day!
You should also plan to set your alarm early, as morning before or just after dawn tend to be the best times for fog. As the sun rises and heats things up, the thicker fog will tend to dissipate and conditions won’t be as favorable.
2. Bring a Tripod
While it’s not always necessary, you may want to bring a tripod if you’re looking to shoot images in the fog.
Given that you’ll likely be shooting in the morning when light is low, and add to that the way the fog will naturally diffuse what light there is, you may need the stability of a tripod to use slower shutter speeds.
As far as subject matter goes, one of my favorite things about shooting in the fog is that it can turn the most ordinary scene or subject into something magical and mysterious.
Fog naturally adds depth to a scene by obscuring what’s in the background to make your subject really stand out. In this way, some subjects would be impossible to shoot without the fog eliminating the distracting background noise.
Let’s say you’re standing in a forest, for example. On a clear day, a photo of any particular tree would probably be muddied by the presence of the countless other trees that surround it. The presence of fog, however, creates layers that make background trees gradually fade into the mist, and makes your subject stand out in comparison.
4. Use Leading Lines
Another great tip for shooting in the fog is to use lines to lead the viewer’s eye deeper into the fog.
Things like train tracks or roads that gradually disappear into the fog are great examples of this and create a sense of mood and mystery about what lies beyond.
5. Embrace the Negative Space Fog Can Create
As fog naturally obscures the background of your scene, another great technique when shooting in the fog is the use of negative space.
Similar to shooting in snowy conditions, a blanket of fog is a minimalist photographer’s dream, as it creates a kind of blank canvas background for you to choose a single subject to place upon your image.
Don’t be afraid of taking a “less is more” approach in the fog, and use that empty space the fog creates to bring further attention to solitary subjects.
6. Choosing a Film Stock
If you’re wondering what kind of film is best for photographing in the fog, I’d say you have a lot of options.
You can use color or black and white film, although colors can be very muted by thicker fog, in which case, the scene may be naturally more “black and white” anyways.
Film speed again is up to you, however, given that you may be shooting in lower light conditions, having an ISO of at least 400 might be helpful.
I’ve shot everything from 400-3200 ISO films in fog and have had good results with all of them!