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Hidden Path, Hudson Valley
Hidden Path, Hudson Valley

I love capturing fog in nature, and often the subject of the image becomes the fog itself. How do we photograph fog? Well for sure there has to be some context and that is where composition and the use of light is essential.

While I was drawn to the shapes of these trees and the path that leads  between them to some further unknown destination, it is the fog that creates the mood and feel. The atmosphere is what I really wanted to convey, and so the challenge is not to let the other parts of the scene obscure the main character of the image, the fog.

I can’t tell how much I have practiced this, and how often I have failed. But slowly my sense of composition and balance is getting closer to what my senses tell me when I’m in the field. What does that translate to in the real world? Simplify, simplify, and simplify. Lead the viewers eye without any distractions, tell your story with as little words as possible, or in this case, remove everything from the frame that does not add to the image.  Time and practice is all it takes, and those investments are never wasted when it comes to photography!

From a technical standpoint, I find I usually have to overexpose my meter reading by about a stop or so when photographing in heavy fog, otherwise I don’t get the important parts of the image into the right hand side of my histogram. I want to preserve the dark shadows more than the highlights here, and not lose the detail in the trunks of the trees. While this scene does not exceed the dynamic range of most DSLR’s, by exposing to the right I keep the shadows cleaner (less noise), and my large prints look that much better for it.

Below you can see my histogram in Lightroom 3 and the different parts of the image that I think about when both exposing and processing the RAW file. The final image was finished and printed completely in Lightroom, I didn’t see any need to export to Photoshop.

Comments, feedback, and questions are always welcome, thanks for reading!


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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I can definetely relate to what you are describing in this tutorial Robert. I find this type of shot to be the most challenging for me particularly when it comes to preserving shadow detail that is so critically important. The amount of time a photographer has to get that perfect photo is also a challenge particulalry in this type of scene so what I try to do is take as many variations of the shot as possible and I can usually salvage 1 or 2 during the editing process.

    1. Thanks Tom – yes it can be difficult, which is why I try to practice as much as possible. Careful with making many variations – part of the process of conveying what is in your mind and heart is knowing what the print looks like before you press the shutter – pre visualizing! Sure digital allows us to shoot first and edit later, but I find looking more and shooting less a better strategy in the long run. I’ll write a blog post about this very topic soon…


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