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Fog and Mist
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Fog and Mist

Of all weather phenomena, fog and mist are among the most powerful in evoking emotion. The reactions they elicit often vary from person to person: The soft morning mist rising above the Irish countryside that stirs feelings of serenity in you may bring on a twinge of melancholy in your companion.

Like brazen, daylight thieves, both fog and mist steal from color, texture, and shape, reducing scenes to a muted palette of hues and simple forms without details. It's important, then, to build your compositions around subjects that can hold their own. Rather than try to capture a broad landscape, seek out the stark shapes of a lone tree and a stone wall. The farther subjects are from your camera, the more they will lose their impact, so be sure to place the most important subjects closest to the camera—a barn in the foreground of a farm scene, for example.

The reflective brightness of fog and mist fool most autoexposure systems into allowing for more light than is actually available, so you'll have to increase exposure over your camera's recommendation. If your camera has an exposure compensation dial, use it to add an extra stop (+1). With manual-exposure cameras and some point-and-shoots, you can create the same compensation by setting an ISO speed that is half the actual speed of the film you're using. This will provide an extra stop of exposure; remember to set it back to the correct speed once the fog or mist has burned off.

Long telephoto lenses compress the effects of fog and mist; the longer the lens, the more pronounced the compression. When shooting mountain landscapes, photographers often use lenses 300mm or longer to accentuate an effect called atmospheric perspective, which amplifies the sense of distance in mountain shots.

Next: "In the Rain"

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