Fog is oddly comforting. It obscures much of the world, allowing you to see only what’s close by, affording a rare chance to concentrate on your immediate surroundings amid the endless clutter and activity of modernity. Yet it is not fully isolating – far away sounds carry through it, reminding you there is a world beyond your view, but it’s not quite as demanding of your attention. It’s nature’s Prozac.
I’ve always enjoyed hiking in the fog (probably because most everyone else stays home), and fog provides a really useful photographic opportunity for those so inclined. The same virtue of allowing greater focus on a particular subject without being distracted by background clutter is every bit as useful for photos as for life in general.
For something like this, pretty much anything in the background is going to weaken the impact of the image. The inherent grain of the film is often going to disrupt the uniformity of the fog, which is not to everyone’s taste. There’s also slight vignetting in this shot (caused by stacking filters); again, some won’t care for this, but I’m happy with the overall effect and the way it highlights the ship in particular. This was shot with a Sigma 100-300 on my Pentax SFX.
Not all fog is created equal. Some closes the world down to a tiny gray sphere, some lets you see off into the near distance a bit. Think of it as different dosages.
Sometimes what you can tantalizingly just make out is more interesting than the clearer elements of the scene, drawing your eye deeper into the frame. This was taken with my Rollei 35.
When shot with digital rather than film, fog becomes a much smoother, more uniform thing. The images take on a very different feel – a bit cleaner, a bit sharper, still atmospheric, but as usual with digital slightly less engaging. Fog does help digital in this regard, I think; one of the problems of digital photography is that it looks too close to perfect – fog softens and blurs, taking off a bit of that hard edge of perfection. Shot with my Canon T3 and 75-300mm lens.
Sometimes simple is best. With most of the world hidden in the fog, it’s a lot easier to find opportunities to catch an isolated scene. This was originally taken in color, but desaturated to black & white the image is simpler and more striking. Canon T3, 18-55mm kit lens.
Fog is a photographer’s little helper. Thanks, Prozac.