I’ve always said that fog is a photographer’s best friend. It does amazing things to landscapes and I love being out in it; hushed and peaceful. Nature feels restrained, yet somehow closer, more intimate. Recently some foggy goodness coincided with my noticing a stretch of woods that I pass by fairly often. I’d seen it before, but never really looked at it. When I did I decided that I’d check it out the next day.
And it was foggy.
The woods caught my attention because of the few leaves still on some of the smaller trees. I thought that with the right sunlight they would show up beautifully against the trunks of their larger neighbors. And that would have worked. Maybe next year I’ll get those conditions. This year was misty and mysterious.
Fog makes you look for layers even more than usual. Anchors can be very important in these kinds of landscapes. Close objects that have the most contrast and texture, middle things that are starting to fade and then those in the back that are barely there. I love doing it and on this morning was no exception. Fueled by one cup of coffee and the security of another waiting at home when I was done, I donned my blaze orange and headed out.
The damp leaves muffling my footsteps. The eerie sound distortion that disorients just a little. The leaves dripping softly nearby. The crabby buck huffing and puffing and leading his band of does away from me. Jeez. Can’t take me anywhere. I barely saw them through the fog, but boy did I hear him. Such throat-clogging noises I never heard from a deer before. Sorry dude!
But eventually he got over it and I didn’t hear him again. By this time I was a bit cold and jonesing for the rest of my coffee, but I had to linger. Fog doesn’t last forever, especially this far from the river. I stayed to get the most of it while I could.
At first I went with a pretty literal processing technique which is my usual style. I think for nature it is particularly appropriate so that it serves as an accurate record of not only what I saw, but as close as I can to approximate the reality of the beauty I behold. That’s not my only guideline. When I want to post or present things together I like to keep the processing the same – to keep them of a piece.
But when days go by and there’s a gap of time when processing a batch of photos, a new idea can fall into it. A different vision. To try things. Bend reality just a bit. Fog can take it. Fog is adaptable. I find the scenes take well to breaking out of one approach with the result serving different moods. Check it out.
This first one came to feel more imposing because of the temperature shift. A warm white balance is more soothing to me and the cooler range more unsettling.
I didn’t do anything too drastic. Just small tweaks. Additions. Subtractions. Mostly just playing around with effects and sliders. Almost as much fun as taking the photos.
Just look at this shot looking down what appears to be an old logging road.
It presents much differently. Less inviting, but still holding a mystery. I think disappearance. Dissipation. Something you thought you saw just for a second. Let’s look deeper.
A bit more clarity and contrast, but not much color. It makes me think of isolation. And you still can’t find what you almost saw a second ago.
I played a little more with these next shots featuring the same bendy tree.
I like them all for different reasons. Even though it’s an autumn scene, I think the black and white is intriguing because the tonal range is wide enough for it without being too contrasty. That’s the challenge with fog – to not go overboard with the contrast or clarity sliders. Our eyes are looking for it, especially these days. Film wasn’t so aggressive with contrast and certainly fog has far less clarity than we sometimes process it. I pull back and take out contrast every time I add it. I want to play, but it also has to look like it was actually foggy.
So back to reality. Fog is wonderful, but doesn’t last. Surely that’s part of the appeal. That ephemeral quality that makes you go out and get it while you can. It’s unpredictable and fleeting. A great motivator even for the most lazy photographer. Not that I’m admitting that!