Although fog is quite a common phenomenon around Vancouver, it is rare to encounter fog downtown. One of the biggest problems when shooting in any city is visual chaos, or the overwhelming number of competing elements. Quite often, even the best efforts to simplify the image fail and leave you with clutter.
Therefore, I look forward to shooting in fog. Not only does fog help you to simplify but it creates a powerful mood for your imagery. When intense fog blanketed Vancouver I immediately headed out to take advantage of the conditions.
I went to a small plaza at the side entrance of the Waterfront Station. This entrance is elevated in relation to the main entrance. Usually in fog the light is quite dispersed and non-directional so I ignore it completely.
My first step was to find the stage or background. I have already decided on black and white imagery and set up my camera for the black and white preview with shadows +3 and highlights +1. This high contrast preview allows me to simplify my preview and focus on the key elements only.
What took my attention was the glass barrier. My first idea was to use the glass facing as a leading line toward my subject – a man standing quite far away. I took this image.
I wasn’t impressed so I turned away. First, I noticed a pretty high hedge, which I placed in the lower part of my frame. With my shadows turned +3, the hedge turned black, providing me with the first layer of simplification.
Second, I noticed beautiful high-rise buildings partially embraced by the fog. Now I had to deal with a huge multi-level garage. The question was how to eliminate this distraction? At that moment I looked back at the glass fencing. What if I blocked the left side of the frame, placing my camera against the glass? Well, once I did it, the ideal reflection appeared in my frame. Not only did I eliminate part of the garage but the entire left side perfectly matched the right side of my frame, split by the vertical line of the garage. At this point I knew the general idea of my image.
Third, I started moving my camera closer to the glass. Of course, as with every glass facing there were some round connectors so I had to make sure I positioned my camera to avoid them. I wanted a smooth transition between the left and right side of my frame.
Finally, I needed my subject. With the side entrance on my left to the station, I could count on people leaving the station. I positioned myself quite low holding my camera close to the glass (for perfect reflection) and waiting for people to enter the frame. At this point I knew exactly where I wanted to place my subject within the frame. For about 20 minutes I took about 10 frames with numerous subjects but this gentleman provided exactly what I needed to complete my image.
My first attempt at shooting through glass. I noticed the glass connectors and had to reposition my camera to avoid this distraction.
1/320 sec at f/8.0
I shot at least five images with different subjects, all providing me with a slightly different idea. Here are my favourites.
Gear and Setup:
XF 35mm F1.4
JPEG + RAW,
ISO AUTO min 200 – max 6,400
Minimum Shutter Speed – 1/320
ACROS + R
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