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Thread: Photographing Fog before daylight

  1. #1

    Photographing Fog before daylight

    Okay I have read the tutorial on photograhing in the fog. However it has left me with some unanswered questions.

    I went to the coast a couple of weeks ago and spotted what looked like a perfect image to capture, but the camera and tripod was back at home , but will have to watch the weather for a strong fog advisory, anything less would be a waste of time. So I plan on going back with the single purpose of capturing what I saw.

    First it is a long curving line of lights (on poles) following the road and the shades over the lamps made the lights shine down into a cone shape, each cone reaching out and almost touching the next one in line. This will be in dark with the lamps as the only source of light as it is well out of the city limits. Because it will not have any color to talk about it seems to me it will be the perfect candidate for B & W.

    Now my question: Using the 17-55mm f/2.8 lens what would be a good aperture and shutter speed to start with under those conditions?

    Second question: What would be a good ISO setting under same conditions?

    I have read that with the 17-55mm lens from f/2.8 up to f/8 is the best range for this lens, but I am not experienced enough yet to know. I have been trying different settings to learn just what it can do but still need more practice.

    Being it is a considerable distance to drive, but well worth the trip if I get what I want, it would help to have a reasonable starting point. Traffic will eventually pick up and too much would be a waste of time to try any longer. Thus I ask for some suggestions to help. I plan on taking as many shots as possible. Getting the right angle, critical for this shot, that I want may take some time also.

    This image is stuck in my mind and will not leave me alone until I capture it. Thanks in advance for any and all useful info. If it were closer to home I would just spend the time trying everything but at the price of fuel it would be cost prohibitive.

  2. #2
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing Fog before daylight

    Carl - First thought: Your going to want a good depth of field if you're looking at a row of lamp-posts. So you're wanting to be down at f8/f11. But, do you want to lamps to have starburst on them? If so, then you want to get further down, even as far as f22.

    Yes, every lens has its 'sweet spot' the setting at which it supposedly performs at its best. But for our practical purposes, the demands of achieving the artistic goal should over-ride that particular consideration.

    If we're talking about it being dark, then we're possibly talking about a very, very long exposure. But, what's to be showing in the image. Is it just the lamps and the lamp-posts, with everything else gone to black? Or are we to see detail in the background?

    I don't think the ISO setting is so important. What is important is getting the exposure right so that you don't have the dark areas full of noise. So, don't think of taking lots of lots of images. Instead maybe think of taking a few very long exposure shots (we could be talking many minutes here - Colin is the best person I know to comment on this).

    Does that sort-of help?

  3. #3

    Re: Photographing Fog before daylight

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Carl - First thought: Your going to want a good depth of field if you're looking at a row of lamp-posts. So you're wanting to be down at f8/f11. But, do you want to lamps to have starburst on them? If so, then you want to get further down, even as far as f22.

    1) What I want to capture is the cone shape that the lights are forming in the fog along with the lamps and post. It is a sharp curve in the row and then they straighten out. It is hard to describ what I saw if only I had a picture of it.

    Yes, every lens has its 'sweet spot' the setting at which it supposedly performs at its best. But for our practical purposes, the demands of achieving the artistic goal should over-ride that particular consideration.

    2) Point taken.

    If we're talking about it being dark, then we're possibly talking about a very, very long exposure. But, what's to be showing in the image. Is it just the lamps and the lamp-posts, with everything else gone to black? Or are we to see detail in the background?

    3) If memory serves me right I remember seeing some outlines of trees in the background. The only thing that seemed to hold the lights back was the fog. On a clear night or morning the lights are very bright.

    I don't think the ISO setting is so important. What is important is getting the exposure right so that you don't have the dark areas full of noise. So, don't think of taking lots of lots of images. Instead maybe think of taking a few very long exposure shots (we could be talking many minutes here - Colin is the best person I know to comment on this).



    Does that sort-of help?
    Sure it does, it gives me food for thought and thats what I need at this point. Thank You!

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    Re: Photographing Fog before daylight

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl in Louisiana View Post
    Second question: What would be a good ISO setting under same conditions?
    That's an easy one. If it doesn't move and you have a tripod, in almost 10 out of 10 times ISO 100 will be your best choice.

  5. #5

    Re: Photographing Fog before daylight

    Quote Originally Posted by thatguyfromvienna View Post
    That's an easy one. If it doesn't move and you have a tripod, in almost 10 out of 10 times ISO 100 will be your best choice.
    Thanks Alexander Rose,
    I am now trying to get in the habit of shooting with 100-200 ISO all the time, just was not sure about such settings at night time with little light.

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    Re: Photographing Fog before daylight

    Carl,
    if it was THAT easy...
    Remember I mentioned a tripod.

    When you're shooting handheld though, you might often have to compromise image quality for sharpness.
    A higher ISO setting means way more noise but too long shutter speeds mean shake.
    Noise can be handled post processing to a certain extent but a shaky and blurred photo cannot be recovered.

    A rule of thumb: 1/focal length on 35mm is what you can handhold.
    Multiply by 1.5 for your crop factor, so at 70mm focal length aka zoom, most people would add shake at shutter speeds slower than 1/100th. (70x1.5).
    Image stabilizing (optical or in body) can help you by 2-3 stops, turning that 1/100th to 1/25th or even better.

    Just get out and play!
    That's the wonderful thing about being digital.
    Shoot as if there was no tomorrow! Fry your memory card! Be experimental with the settings, have a look at your LCD and learn from your mistakes. In my opinion, that's the fun part about learning the technical aspects of photography.

    PS: No need to add the Rose part to my name since it's only my last name.

  7. #7

    Re: Photographing Fog before daylight

    Quote Originally Posted by thatguyfromvienna View Post
    Carl,
    if it was THAT easy...
    Remember I mentioned a tripod.

    When you're shooting handheld though, you might often have to compromise image quality for sharpness.
    A higher ISO setting means way more noise but too long shutter speeds mean shake.
    Noise can be handled post processing to a certain extent but a shaky and blurred photo cannot be recovered.

    A rule of thumb: 1/focal length on 35mm is what you can handhold.
    Multiply by 1.5 for your crop factor, so at 70mm focal length aka zoom, most people would add shake at shutter speeds slower than 1/100th. (70x1.5).
    Image stabilizing (optical or in body) can help you by 2-3 stops, turning that 1/100th to 1/25th or even better.

    Just get out and play!
    That's the wonderful thing about being digital.
    Shoot as if there was no tomorrow! Fry your memory card! Be experimental with the settings, have a look at your LCD and learn from your mistakes. In my opinion, that's the fun part about learning the technical aspects of photography.

    PS: No need to add the Rose part to my name since it's only my last name.
    Thank you Alexander,

    I did not miss the tripod and it stays in my car all the time unless I am using it. With a shot like this on these lights I will be using it. I figure I'll have to be there around 2:00 am to beat the traffic and have time to get the angle I want so time will be on the short side. Your comments have helped alot and I will give it a try as soon as the next heavy fog prediction comes thru.

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    Re: Photographing Fog before daylight

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl in Louisiana View Post
    Thanks Alexander Rose,
    I am now trying to get in the habit of shooting with 100-200 ISO all the time, just was not sure about such settings at night time with little light.
    I'm with Alexander, always shoot at 100 when you have tripod and you are shooting scenery. if you dont have a tripod, still try and take the shot, its good to practice and improvise. By using a higher ISO and what is available you can still try your luck. By sitting down, putting your elbows on your knees and stabilising your camera hard up against your cheek you should be able to shoot at one second hand held. Looking forward to seeing the shot, it sounds good.

  9. #9

    Re: Photographing Fog before daylight

    Quote Originally Posted by WJT View Post
    I'm with Alexander, always shoot at 100 when you have tripod and you are shooting scenery. if you dont have a tripod, still try and take the shot, its good to practice and improvise. By using a higher ISO and what is available you can still try your luck. By sitting down, putting your elbows on your knees and stabilising your camera hard up against your cheek you should be able to shoot at one second hand held. Looking forward to seeing the shot, it sounds good.
    Thank You Wayne,
    I will tuck that bit of info under my hat and try to always shoot at 100 ISO. I do have a tripod, it is from my 35mm film days but to me still a good tripod and will keep it for now. The new ones are pretty expensive and will wait till later on for a new one. Thanks for the info on how to shoot without a tripod as that could come in handy when the tripod is not around, as I do sometimes get off thinking I'll not need it this time...lol

  10. #10
    thatguyfromvienna's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing Fog before daylight

    Another neat trick from the old days is the improvised string monopod.
    Basically, you attach the plate of your tripod to your cam, attach a string to it and step onto that string, pulling it firm.
    This way, you considerably reduce camera shake too.
    It's no replacement for a real tripod but can save your rear if you just need that one extra stop covered.

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    Re: Photographing Fog before daylight

    Hi, Carl - I did a similar thing with the Colorado Bridge in Pasadena. It's at the end of the Arroyo Seco and crosses the Arroyo Seco Parkway south of the Rose Bowl before the Parkway becomes the 110 freeway. Several years ago, the bridge was completed restored to its historic configuration with cast aluminum fixtures and such like. It's often used for 1920s and 1930s movies with old cars. I used 1/100 and ISO 100 to shoot. I took 14 images and settled on one for my calendar that showed the whole curve of the bridge with lights. I was very lucky that there was just enough fog to shoot through and give the foggy night feeling and not too much so that I got only a couple of lightposts. Some of the images were from the west end which elevated me a little above the surface of the bridge such that I could get both the cones of light through the fog and the circular pools of light on the sidewalk. The ones from the east were essentially from ground level, so I got the cones of light and not the circular pools.

    HTH.

    v

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    Re: Photographing Fog before daylight

    Your welcome Carl, and with regard to the old tripod; you may be just as well off to buy a remote trigger (cable or digital). The tripod cannot move then when you press the button so it doesnt have to be an expensive upgrade. Mine cost me AUD $20.00.

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    Re: Photographing Fog before daylight

    Another "trick" ...

    Sometimes you can prop the camera up on something - and use the self-timer.

    Generally "fog at dawn shots" will need exposures in the region of multiple seconds though. This one I shot the other day was a full 30 seconds at F32 (although I did have a degree of ND filter dialed in).

    Photographing Fog before daylight

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    Re: Photographing Fog before daylight

    Carl I did forget to say always take the shot regardless. I took this today with one arm holding up my son who was having a good wriggle and snapped it with the other hand anyway. So one hand & standing up, at 1/10 second and I think F: 3.2, 100 ISO. I couldn't get to the car to get the tripod as I had family to tend to but still worth taking the shot.
    Photographing Fog before daylight

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    Re: Photographing Fog before daylight

    Low iso is useful for fog shots as noise will be far more visible in them.

    The only note of caution I would urge for new photographers is; please don't become a slave to the "always shoot at 100/200 iso" rule, there are many other times when you'll ruin a shot by other means*, or when noise won't be so visible, meaning raising the iso to 800, or beyond, is the right thing to do.

    * e.g. camera shake or insufficient Depth of Field

    If all else fails, you can always use a third party noise reduction method (I use Neat Image) in PP to deal with the noise - indeed, it should be particularly effective on noise on mist and fog.

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    Re: Photographing Fog before daylight

    May i suggest, a trial run? even without the fog that you want to shoot being there, conditions and exposures will be similar, go and play at the same location take a multiple of exposures at different apertures, speeds, and ISO and see what works best for you and your equipment. as Dave says don't get bogged down with the low ISO because it will depend on the camera your using, mine produces good results upto 6400 depending on exposure length and how big you want to print. Then when the fog arrives you'll have a good idea of the best composition, where to set up, where to park yada, yada, yada, and don't forget the all important hi vis vest.... wouldn't want a squished photog !!!

    regards

    mark

  17. #17

    Re: Photographing Fog before daylight

    Thank you drjucie, Alexander, Wayne, Colin, and Mark,
    All great info to have and again many thanks for sharing! Thanks to Colin and Wayne with photos and great info on capturing their images. I will be practicing a little later on and save the trip for the real deal. It is at a truck weight scale so I will be able to get off of the interstate in a safe area, after talking with the officers at the scales of course.

    Mark the 60D does good at 6400 ISO and Dfine 2, a noise software by Nik, does a great job of cleaning up the image. I have shot up to 3200 & 6400 at night for our church baseball team and they have come out great enough for 6 X 4 prints. So far I have not printed anything larger that the 6 X 4 as that is the largest they want.

    I do plan on starting with portraiture and will want and expect much more out of my work in that area. I am just so bogged down right now with learning the software through tutorials and you tube. But feel now that I have somewhat of a tiny grip on it, will be seeing if that is so soon.

    Again many thanks for all your support thus far!
    Last edited by Carl in Louisiana; 15th April 2012 at 09:38 PM. Reason: another spelling mistake.

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