The Continuing Story of Mist Opportunities
This year the fall colors in the New Jersey Pine Barrens were not as good as the past few years, but mornings with mist have been epic. In January, I posted about photographing mist. Now, in October, there have been even more mist opportunities that should not be missed.
Mist in the Pine Barrens briefly changes the world. Our landscape is beautiful in a rugged and sometimes harsh way. It’s a world teaming with life and water which causes a rough-edged beauty. Mist changes that. For an hour or two, on misty mornings, those rough edges of the Pine Barrens soften into a mystical and surreal world.
On misty mornings, color in the sky often comes long before sunrise creating an almost alien landscape. I’ve stood before scenes like this wondering if I had arrived there by spaceship.
Sometimes, the early morning light will diffuse through the mist and bathe the landscape in a warm glow.
Working The Mist
Mist is always moving. That movement will hide and reveal the various features of the landscape. Time your photograph when the mist reveals what you want in your image and hides what you don’t. Sunlight can also create a beautiful play of light and shadow in the mist. In the photograph below, the early sun lights the living trees as the dead cedars remain in the shadows.
Sun and mist can even turn a local swimming beach along a Pine Barrens river into something quite magical.
Looking for mist rising above trees from hidden bogs and savannas can yield scenes like this one. Here the mist mixes with the early fall colors.
Mist In The Pine Barrens Ghost Forest
Ghost forests are made of dead Atlantic White Cedar trees that grew along Pine Barrens waterways. As water levels have risen from human intervention, environmental conditions, and beaver dams, the trees die. Because cedar wood is very hard and rot resistant, these dead, or ghost trees will remain standing for many years. Add some mist in the ghost forest, and, well, you see.
Sun and Mist
With the rising of the sun, the nature of mist changes. The golden hour color reflects through the mist as the sun starts to burn the mist off. This creates a slow transition between a soft, surreal landscape back to the rugged Pine Barrens. This image below was made on one of my photography workshops where participants were treated to this beautiful transition.
The sun eventually will burn off the mist and sometimes reveal little standout gems in the landscape that are beautifully lit while the mist masks the background.
Almost every Pine Barrens scene has innumerable intimate landscapes waiting to be found. Finding these scenes within the mist is like treasure hunting with a telephoto lens.
The last vestiges of a misty morning helping to light a fall landscape.
The Pine Barrens is a place that never ceases to show its magic. Mist is one of the pinnacles of that magic, but can be fleeting. Predicting where and when it is going to happen comes from experience, instinct and a bit of luck. That’s why regularly photographing your local landscape is going to yield your best work. You can visit locations regularly and develop the instincts to predict when to be there when the special things, like mist, will happen. When they do, they are a short trip away.