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Many will argue that the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, is meant to be seen under a cloudless sky, giving the best opportunity to see the famed blue-haze; a sort of natural pollution that fills the valleys.
Whilst there’s no arguing the blue makes a beautiful contrast against the green eucalyptus trees in the foreground; some of my favorite photos, have been taken in heavy mist, which blocks out all but the closest objects. Wentworth Falls Lake can often disappear in thick fog and forget seeing the Three Sisters or distant valley views.
So why bother taking photographs in misty weather?
So what is it about mist that is unique?
It’s the blank background, that allows you to focus on a single object, one tree, one leaf, one rock. There is nothing else in the background to distract you. Not everything is clear, sometimes your brain has to look all over a photo to figure out, what it should be looking at.
Mist moves quickly, so taking photographs in mist requires quick thinking and a little pre-planning (have some spots you’d like to photograph in the fog, in mind first so you can go straight there). You might find that it’s foggy in the mid mountains, but then clear in the upper mountains. However, be patient because in another ten minutes, everything might be shrouded in mist once more.
My favourite album to listen to when it’s cold, rainy and misty is the Piano Cloud Series. You can listen to it now, or download free for three months with Apple Music.
Mist is difficult to predict, hard to know how long it will last and fast moving which makes photographing in fog, challenging, but the results can be mesmerising. I generally take fog photos without any lighting, so as not to cause bounce back from particles in the air, but if you have sunlight streaming through fog, it can cause the whole area to take on a surreal orange glow; a photographer’s dream.
You won’t find any crowds on misty days so there’s a high chance you’ll find parking easily and you’ll potentially have lookouts all to yourself. Even if it’s raining, there are plenty of lookouts that you can experience from the warm confines of your car. You’ll find a list of the best Blue Mountains lookouts for a rainy day, here.
An easy lunch idea when the weather is cold and drizzly is a pie from one of the many outstanding bakeries throughout the mountains. I taste-tested every single one and here’s my final list of the best pie shops in the Blue Mountains.
I’ll probably regret giving away my secret spots but some of the best places to visit in the Blue Mountains when it’s misty are:
- Mt Wilson – tiny village, lots of gardens, excellent in autumn, historic buildings
- Mt Victoria – A couple of shops, an old pub and a classic cinema
- Katoomba – Lots of Art Deco buildings, big hills and laneways
- Leura – Gardens, beautiful houses and beautiful village shops
- Wentworth Falls – Lake with an easy circumference walk
- Bullaburra – Bush views from the pedestrian overpass
- Lawson – Castle looking ruins, historic houses and easy bush walks
It’s unlikely you’ll get fog much lower than Lawson and if you do, then part of the fun is exploring, and finding unique photo opportunities caused by the fog.
Hints and tips for taking photos in fog.
Your camera may have trouble focussing in thick fog because there’s so many water particles in the air, and no object is clear to look at. If you’re camera has manual focus functions, then use it, otherwise focus your camera on an object, hold focus (if that’s on option) and then move your camera to the area you wish to photograph. As a last resort, you could try using an additional light source (phone light, torch or car headlights) on an object to see if that helps your camera focus.
Using time-lapse mode (be sure to use a tripod) can be an effective way to capture fog moving through the trees or along a road. Bring props and costumes for creepy portrait shots. Having someone a few metres (or feet) away in thick fog, causes them to appear as just a shadow. Make the most of the plain background, wear bright colours, flashy makeup or black and white photos work particularly well in misty conditions.
Most of all, don’t hesitate to take the shot because it may not appear that way again.
If you’re interested in mist and fog, then you might also be keen to read my post on clouds; if that’s how you can across this post, then you can find other fascinating articles about travel and photography on my blog, or listen to my podcast, Travelosophy.