Fog for Great Lake Pictures

Fog is a powerful ally for outdoor photographers, and it makes for great lake pictures. Here are a few photo tips to give you the how to knowledge for shooting romantic and alluring lake photos.

The most obvious yet often overlooked outdoor photography tip is to know what to expect from the weather. I keep up to date on weather forecasts whether I’m planning a trip, am already on one, or am just near home. I check forecasts several times a day with my iphone or computer, and have portable weather band radios that travel with me in case I don’t have wi-fi or cellular access. This makes it easy to know sunrise and sunset times, lunar phase, and expected atmospheric conditions where I am and where I’m going. The professional forecasters are not always right, but they are getting better each year, and they have always been better at weather prediction than I have.

Another important tool is an alarm clock. In the places I’ve been fog is more likely in the early morning, and is usually thickest a little after dawn. Winds increase and air warms as the day proceeds, and fog disappears. Shoot at or a little before dawn means getting up in time to get to the water with all the gear and a mind that is reasonably awake.

It turns out that fog is fairly easy to predict and it is likely if the dew point and temperature are within 4 degrees F (2.5 degrees C) of each other and winds are calm or very light. When these conditions occur over a lake the fog can be quite spectacular. I spend a lot of time in Minnesota and Wisconsin during the summer, and have learned that lake fog can be very thick when water warmed by spring and summer days is confronted with cool air coming in from Canada. Shore lines can be almost imperceptible or actually disappear even on small lakes, and fog can obscure the sun or turn it into an orange disc so dim that we can look directly at it. Often I shoot directly into the sun, and docks, watercraft, and wildlife will be rendered in muted colors or as silhouettes.

flowage-pre-dawnFog means reduced light levels, so a tripod can be very helpful when shooting on land, and especially during the special light that precedes dawn. I couldn’t have gotten the photo of the mist arising out of the darkness without one. It was shot at ISO 400, f/4 for 1.1 seconds, far too long for a hand held shot, especially with the 80-400 zoom I was using.

We tend to think of fog as a phenomenon of the cool months but all of these photos were shot in summer. The pre-dawn photo above was made in late August, and the fisherman on the dock was photographed on the 4th of July! It was a cool morning — 32 degrees F (0 C) — and ice was forming on the dock as fog condensed on it! The fog was so thick partly because the water was more than 40 degrees F warmer. The boat was photographed the next day on the second of several cool mornings in a row. Both shots were hand held, but I had made some pre-dawn photos on July 4th using a different camera on a tripod. I protected it and the lens with an elastic edged bowl cover I’d purchased in the housewares department. I keep several of these with my gear so it is easy to protect tripod-mounted equipment in fog, mist, and rain.
man-on-dock boat-into-fog

The small lake and island were photographed in June in Iowa using a tripod on the shore. The thinner fog permitted more color and detail in this photo. The black and white photo for a boat and a foggy sunrise is actually a composite. I photographed into the sun early on a late July morning, and shot the boat a few minutes later, and combined them and converted to B&W with Photoshop.

lake-in-park boat-sun

boat-from-low-angle This final photo was made from the water so that I could get a low angle on the unoccupied boat. I guided it with a rope that I released once the boat was positioned to suit me. By the time I was done wind was coming up and the boat had drifted into deep water, forcing me to take the camera back to the dock before swimming for the boat. It was a rather long swim and slightly tiring, making the images all the more exciting to have. This is my favorite of about 15 exposures.

I hope this helps you get some great lake photographs. The main thing is to know when fog is likely and then do what it takes to be there! So keep an eye or ear on the weather, pack a tripod or have another means to steady your camera, and go to bed early the night before. Some snack bars are a good idea, too! It can often get hungry on a lake before the fog lifts.


PS – Comments and questions are always welcome.

© 2011, All rights reserved.

Leave A Comment...

You may use these HTML tags & attributes in your comment: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Sharing Buttons by Linksku
SEO Powered By SEOPressor