Fog can add a magical quality to your landscape, wildlife, and travel photographs. In this article, I share several tips for successfully photographing fog, illustrated with 30 inspiring fog photos from me and some of my favorite pro photographers. You can also watch the video below, where I discuss some of my favorite tips for taking amazing fog photos. At the end of this article is a PRO subscriber exclusive video discussing techniques for processing fog photos.
When Does Fog Form?
As a general matter, fog can form when the temperature and dew point of the air get close, typically within 5°F of each other. The dew point is the temperature the air needs to be cooled to in order to reach a relative humidity of 100%, which forces water vapor out of the air as fog, precipitation, or dew. Local landscape features and conditions can greatly affect the formation of fog. For example, you can often see fog on lakes and rivers during autumn and early winter, when waters are still warm, and the air is cold. Elevation changes can also influence the formation of fog, for example in mountain areas where you can often get fog in the valleys below. Fog is more likely at sunrise (and usually begins to dissipate when the sun starts warming the air), although fog can form any time of day. Rapid clearing of clouds at night after precipitation is especially favorable for the formation of fog.
Here are 30 inspiring examples of fog used in photography. Enjoy!
#1: Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, USA
I took this photo in the California redwoods. A thin layer of fog clung to the tops of these mighty trees, and when the sun shone through the fog, the fog scattered the light forming photogenic sunbeams. This effect only happens when the fog isn't too thick, and isn't too thin, but rather is in a nebulous "just right" zone between these two extremes.
#2: Green Mountains, USA
I love how the fog helps separate several layers of visual interest in this dynamic composition by Kurt Budliger. The alternating layers of reflection, fog, autumn color, and clouds keep the viewer's eye engaged and exploring the entire photograph.
#3: Yangshuo, China
Rick Sammon took this stunning black & white photo of fog below the mountains of China. The sunbeam affect is created by the sun passing through a thin layer of clouds. The fog below imparts an otherworldly feel to the scene.
#4: Canaima National Park, Venezuela
I spent a week backpacking in the highlands of Venezuela and was stuck in the fog almost the entire time. On my last morning as I was hiking out, the fog broke, revealing this amazing tabletop mountain clad in mist. I was quick to snap this photo before the fog came back again!
#5: Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland
This panorama photo by Joseph Roybal uses the fog as a compositional shape. The fog creates a line leading from the right of the photo to the castle on the left, balancing the composition and adding a healthy dose of mystery to this scene.
#6: Deadvlei, Namibia
The dead trees of the Deadvlei in the Namibian desert are world famous, but you don't see a lot of photos from there featuring fog! Erez Marom was lucky to capture this scene with fog rolling through, creating some separation between the dead trees in the foreground and the sunlight kissing the massive dunes in the background.
#7: Adirondack State Park, USA
I was backpacking in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, waking one morning to a thick layer of fog on the lake where I had set up camp. Really thick fog can totally obscure your view, so look for something relatively nearby to stand out from the fog. I waited for the moment when the fog lifted just enough for me to see this small island offshore.
#8: San Juan Mountains, USA
George Stocking captured this stunning photo while exploring the Colorado Rockies. The fog clinging to the mountains above creates a moody backdrop to the stunning display of fall color below.
#9: Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
Kurt Budliger made this photo in the pre-dawn light. The mountains played hide-and-seek with the fog all morning, but Kurt was lucky to capture this break when the early morning color was at its most intense.
#10: Grand Teton National Park, USA
The mountains were completely obscured, but I drove along a road leading away from the peaks until they rose up above the fog. Then, I waited for the morning light to graze the mountain tops and the dramatic storm clouds above. The fog, still in shadow, is rendered with a cool tone in the final photo, creating a powerful color complement to the warmer tones above. You can learn more about the making of this photo here.
#11: Yellowstone National Park, USA
Fog often forms over the geothermal features of Yellowstone National Park. George Stocking captured this scene with the sun behind the fog, which created sunbeams. You can also see the shadows of the trees on the fog!
#12: Blue Ridge Parkway, USA
I took this photo in the highlands of North Carolina. Fog in the forest helps separate the background from the colorful foreground (reducing visual chaos in the process), and gives this photo a moody look.
#13: Disko Bay, Greenland
Erez Marom captured this "fog bow" while chasing icebergs in the fjords of Greenland. A fog bow is essentially a rainbow formed in the water droplets found in fog, but one that doesn't show any colors.
#14: McWay Falls, USA
This beautiful falls drops down to the ocean on the Big Sur coast of California. Joseph Roybal was lucky to capture this scene with some fog clinging to the surface of the ocean, scattering and softening the light.
#15: Bahia Kino, Mexico
George Stocking photographed these cacti with a hint of fog behind them. The fog helps separate the foreground shapes from the background, adding a feeling of depth. There's just a hint of sunshine coming through the fog, adding an important point of interest in the photo.
#16: East Greenland
What's better than photographing icebergs? Icebergs with fog! Rick Sammon captured this scene while cruising through the fjords of East Greenland.
#17: Danum Valley, Malaysia
During my time in the rain forest of Danum Valley, there was often fog at sunrise, but it wasn't particularly interesting down in the trees. When I flew my drone above the fog, however, things got much more interesting. I captured this panoramic scene one morning as the sun rose above the mountains, with fog in the forested valleys below.
#18: Leuenfall, Switzerland
The mountains were shrouded in mist when Erez Marom made this photo. When photographing fog, you often have to be strategic about your timing. Here, Erez waited for the moment when the fog separated the ridge in the lower left from the hill in the lower right, and both were separated from the mountains in the background. This creates distinct areas of visual interest, making the composition more dynamic.
#19: Groton State Forest, USA
Kurt Budliger captured this peaceful, zen-like morning reflection on Ricker Pond in Vermont. When processing this photo, he was careful not to remove the twilight blue hue.
#20: Weissbad, Switzerland
Erez Marom captured this lone tree after a heavy snow storm. The foggy background isolated the tree perfectly, surrounding it in a sea of white.
#21: Grand Canyon National Park, USA
George Stocking has many amazing photos of fog in the Grand Canyon, and this is one of my favorites. Golden hour light looks amazing with fog, especially when the fog is backlit, causing it to glow from within with a fiery light.
#22: Olympic National Park, USA
Getting above the fog is always a good idea, if you can. With this photo captured by Kurt Budliger, he watched as the fog swirled around this forested hill, waiting for the moment when the fog created the most interesting shapes.
#23: Grand Canyon National Park, USA
Here's another foggy Grand Canyon photo from George Stocking. I love how the fog creates multiple layers in this composition. The bit of sunlight hitting the peak in the upper left (and the rising fog bank behind it) takes this one over the top, in my opinion.
#24: Acadia National Park, USA
Just a hint of fog in the background can add an ethereal touch to any scene. The fog isn't very thick in this autumn cascade photo taken by Kurt Budliger, so it softens the contrast in the scene just a little bit. The reduced clarity in the background helps enhance the feeling of depth.
#25: Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, USA
While exploring the marshes of the eastern shore of Maryland, I spotted these five geese on a foggy morning. When the sun rose, it backlit the fog with golden light, giving the scene a colorfully ethereal mood.
#26: Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, USA
Massive redwood trees? Check. Blooming rhododendron? Check. Fog to separate the foreground from the background and add a magical feel to the scene? Check. George Stocking knew he had something special when all of these came together.
#27: Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia
Erez Marom captured this unbelievable misty morning above the intricate dunes of the Namib Desert while flying overhead. There's just something magical about fog in the desert!
#28: Olympic National Park, USA
The dreaded "marine layer" often forms off the Olympic coast, blocking sunset views and thwarting effective photography. But Joseph Roybal turned this offshore fog into photo magic, waiting for a moment when the sun shone through enough to give the scene some highlights. He used a wave in the foreground to lead the viewer's eye deeper into the scene.
#29: Acadia National Park, USA
Shooting through fog reduces contrast and color saturation. This can give your photos a painterly look, such as with this shot from Kurt Budliger.
#30: East Fjords, Iceland
I photographed this foggy morning using my drone, which allowed me to easily explore the shoreline looking for interesting foregrounds. The fog rolled in and out during the sunrise, allowing me to capture many different compositions as the light changed. There's nothing quite as magical as photographing a foggy scene with beautiful sunrise color!
Processing Fog Photos: PRO Video
Learning to use fog creatively is the first step. The second step is to properly process your foggy photos. My best advice is to do so with a light touch, as you don't want to add too much contrast or saturation, which will destroy the soft, ethereal look that fog gives. If you want to learn more, I have a video below which shows how I process fog photos, with several examples of different scenes requiring different approaches. This video is available to PRO subscribers only. A PRO subscription takes a deeper look at how compelling photos are made, and unlocks access to this video as well as a number of my other courses and tutorials.