Photographing the Fog

Last week I had the opportunity to do some photography in thick fog. I have never shot in this type of weather, but as I work downtown and have a beautiful 7th story view of the river, I thought it would be fun. On the way up the elevator I picked up a co-worker from another floor and we made our way to the roof.I took the Leica with me, loaded with Kentmere 100 black and white. I really only intended to take a couple of photos since film, much like the Leica, is a luxury. Once I stepped out on the roof, however, the entire roll of film was fair game. It was absolutely stunning seeing the fog roll in across the river from Arkansas to Memphis. Mud Island, the small amusement park across from Riverside Drive, was completely shrouded in white mist. I was barely able to make out the flags on the tip of the island.Fog, Memphis, Arkansas, Bridge But fog is almost a bit misleading. I didn’t have a meter, so I used the “Cloudy 8” rule — an adjustment of the Sunny 16 rule used on bright days. I set the camera to f/8 , 1/ISO (100), and shot at infinity. The fog tricked me. Because it was so dense, and changing so dynamically, I managed to underexpose most of the shots by a stop or more. The result is shots that look great at 4×6, but would be horrible at 8×10 due to pale contrast and an over-abundance of grain. This wasn’t helped by the fact that a) I developed in Rodinal, and b) I was shooting a slower ISO.

Nexus to the Rescue!

But it wasn’t all a loss. Desiring to have a couple Instagram shots to share, I broke out the Nexus 6, and I was glad I did. The Nexus compensated for the weird lighting, and I was able to capture some downtown fog shots that I couldn’t get with the Leica and film.Nexus 6, Memphis River BridgeOf course I had a little help. The default camera app is OK, but tweaking the shots with Snapseed transformed them.Snapseed, Memphis River BridgeBeing on the roof offered an additional bonus: balcony awning and pillars. These allowed me to frame and compose a shot that morphed, again with Snapseed’s help, into a cool piece.Raw image before any modificationsPost-processed in Snapseed

Final Thoughts

I wish I had judged the lighting better with my Leica, but even I can misjudge a situation. This was certainly one of those times. Needless to say, I was glad I had my phone with me. It may be big and cumbersome, and the camera app may leave some things to be desired (raw support), but it is still a capable shooter in a pinch, and it saved the day for me.