I have to admit to being fascinated by fog and mist. Almost excessively so. There’s something mysterious about the way it shrouds everything, especially as it rises off the fields. It’s not a unique event in Shropshire so every photographer seems to have it in their portfolio!
I remember as a kid living just outside London, the fog would occasionally be so thick that you couldn’t see more than twenty feet in front of you. Getting to school was a major adventure, half the journey would be spent bumping into things (mostly intentionally). Some of the kids ended up lost for days, being immediately disoriented and turning the wrong way out of the front door. They’d be found confused and walking around in circles in a field somewhere.
I was actually kept at home once for three days by my mum. I wanted to go to work but she was an insistent woman 🙂 I remember it clearly, when you opened the front door the fog would drift into the house and street lights stayed on throughout the day. I’m joking of course (well in part at least) but in case you’re wondering, this wasn’t Victorian London (I’m not that old) it was the suburbs but the yellow tendrils of smog still reached a long way.
I’ve read numerous books (no really, I have, honestly. The Woman in White (at least the bit with the fog), The Woman in Black, Jamaica Inn, The Fog) where dense mist has been a feature, adding to the tension. Watch any film interpretation or adaptation based on the classics and you’ll see plenty of fog being used to heighten the mood.
“So what’s this got to do with photography?” I hear you ask. Well, it’s actually a great backdrop, but it’s actually very hard to get a good photo, or any photo come to that, at least for me it is anyway. You see, the trouble is you either get up in the morning and find a thick blanket of fog in front of you, sometimes so thick that you wander onto someone else’s drive and try to get in their car because you can’t see your own – or it forms while there’s no camera gear to hand. Which let’s face it is a fundamental problem. Both are frustrating (first example – might as well photograph a white sheet).
So the other day, while taking a break and driving back from a Sunday afternoon coffee, I noticed mist rising as I drove out, and it was still hanging there as I drove back. It was about 4pm, the sky was a lovely violet blue and the mist was close to the ground, such that the trees were clearly visible above it, but nothing else was. Perfect. I had a couple of locations in mind for a shot like this, so I raced the 5 miles home, all the time marvelling at the sight from the car, grabbed my camera and a lens and raced out again, 5 miles to my chosen spot.
Well by the time I got there at 4:30 it was just a solid grey wall of fog. And I mean solid. Memories of my childhood returned. I got out of the car and I couldn’t see a blasted thing. Apart from fog that is. It was even foggy in the car when I got back in, that’s how thick it was 🙂 An hour later it had cleared. Opportunity well and truly gone, later on that evening I saw someone’s photos from the top of the Wrekin and they were fantastic.
I know, I know, I should be prepared and keep a camera in the car, but last time I tried that, when I went to use it the battery was flat and I’d also taken the memory cards out and forgot to put them back.
Anyway I’ll persist with my challenge, I’ll steel myself and get up early through the rest of the winter to at least have a look out of the window and make a judgement call.
here’s a photo taken recently when I did have a camera with me, having just finished a shoot, around 5pm. No excuse there eh! But I want the fog to be a little bit thicker, and I want the light to be a little bit brighter as well. It’s seriously a frustrating but intriguing challenge. I have seriously considered camping out somewhere in favourable conditions to get my shot, that’ll be an adventure to look forward to although I’ll have to take plenty of supplies with me. And a fully charged battery of course!