I live in Point Reyes where coastal fog is a frequent companion. It arrives at any time of year, but appears especially during the first and last hours of daylight. At first, I tried to avoid it as I sought my photographic compositions. Gradually, though, as I continued to photograph the landscape, I became drawn to the fog. Now, I welcome it into my work.
When I began photographing the landscape I sought maximum clarity and sharpness for my compositions. Typically, I’d look for a clear atmosphere to portray long views with maximum detail. I was enamored of Ansel Adams’ incredible Yosemite masterpieces. Adams, a maestro of depth of field, had achieved meticulous details in his stunning photographs. Early on, I must have somehow missed or passed by the several excellent images he produced that featured mists and fogs. Because I was blind to the virtues of fog, I single-mindedly waited for very clear days to make many of my earliest landscapes.
After not too long a period of time, I began to let fog enter my own compositions. At first, I found moments that incorporated fog and brilliant light in the same view. Examples are Lightpool, Morning Light, Mount Tamalpais, and Fog Blankets Bolinas. These first photographs are less about mystery and more about majesty. Dramatic in scope, they reveal fog and brilliant light at once.
Then, one early morning in February, 1997, as I drove past Nicasio Reservoir, a dissipating fog over the water was creating a mysteriously beautiful landscape. As I scanned the partially-hidden forms from roadside, I noticed that the fog, by obscuring familiar details, highlighted others, creating a world I had never seen before! What previously seemed ordinary took on an aura of enchantment. The fog opened up new possibilities. I was hooked! I came back the next morning and made the photograph Reappearance. Over several mornings, during the same window of fog, I also photographed Radiance and Soft Morning Fog.
Flash forward to a more recent series of foggy mornings in late October and early November 2017. Early morning walks in the Giacomini Wetlands near Point Reyes Station inspired me to gather my camera as I explored the newly created views. October Morning Walk #55, shown below, is one of several images made during those mornings. They inspired and are featured in my book One Place Deeply. You’ll find more of my best fog photographs here: Fog Collection.
I love the mystery of the fog and how it creates layers in the landscape. In Point Reyes I feel fortunate to have these opportunities to photograph it.