What does frozen fog look like

Frozen fog - winter macro photography

I immerse myself in a glittering fairytale world of white crystals. The filigree spikes cover everything around me. But this wonderland is not permanent, because the bizarre crystals are frozen fog. A short-lived but exciting photo motif for winter macro photography.

This article has been slumbering in my drafts for a long time - actually for over a year. But somehow there was no release last winter. But now it's time! Not that spring is suddenly just around the corner and nobody is interested in snow and ice anymore 😉

Formation of frozen fog

How is fog created?

Fog is actually nothing more than a very low hanging cloud. It occurs mainly in the evening or at night when warm, humid air cools down near the ground. Then condensation occurs, in which the moisture in the air collects itself into larger and larger droplets until we can see them.

How is frozen fog created?

If the warm, humid air cools down so much that the temperature drops below zero degrees, ice crystals are deposited which, depending on the intensity and conditions, form an icy fur or long ice spikes.

In my region, frozen fog usually only occurs in a weaker form. And when the conditions are right, I almost always have the bad luck that I have an appointment, call my job or I simply notice it too late. But whenever the opportunity arises, I'm outside with the camera.

And even if it's pretty uncomfortable outside, you shouldn't miss this magical fairy tale world. Take your camera with you and off you go!

Camera equipment

The best way to capture the details of the frozen mist is close-up.

It is a matter of taste and usually also a question of your wallet whether you use a special macro or zoom lens, extension rings, close-up lenses or a higher quality achromatic lens for macro photography.

In the past I usually took a standard zoom and added an achromatic zoom if necessary. In contrast to a simple close-up lens, this consists of two lenses that correct the optical aberrations of the other. This creates a better quality photo.

In the meantime I mostly use a 100mm macro or telephoto zoom lens with a focal length of up to 200mm. But since I have already tried most of the variants mentioned, I can say from experience that you can take good macro shots even with a small budget.

Most of the images in this article were created using relatively simple means and are up to 12 years old (e.g. the image on the left). As you can see, you don't need the latest or the most expensive equipment 🙂

Camera batteries in cold temperatures

Frozen fog requires low outside temperatures, which not only we photographers have to deal with. Above all, the performance of the camera batteries decreases when it is cold. For an undisturbed photo excursion into the wintry landscape, I therefore recommend taking a spare battery with you. To maintain its performance, it is best to wear it under a warm jacket or to keep it warm in your pocket.


In cold temperatures, gloves are indispensable when taking photos, because the housing of the camera adapts to the outside temperature in a very uncomfortable way. That can quickly spoil the fun of a winter photo excursion.

With the gloves on, you should still have a feel for the shutter release and be able to make settings on the camera. For special photo gloves you have to be a little more ambitious in photography in cold temperatures. An inexpensive alternative are thin gloves, over which you pull thick, fingerless gloves.

I also think pocket warmers are a good way to defrost stiff fingers in between.

Photography of the frozen mist

Since the lighting conditions are usually quite cloudy in frozen fog, using a tripod would probably not be a wrong decision. However, I myself prefer freehand photography and hate to use a tripod. That would be another frosty-cold thing that I have to lug around.

That's why I always try to find a balance between aperture, the ISO value and the length of the shutter speed. There are no perfect settings here because they depend on the following points:

  • the current lighting conditions
  • the speed of your lens
  • the noise behavior of your camera
  • whether you use a tripod or take photos by hand
  • and of course your personal taste in terms of depth of field

After a winter photo excursion

As mentioned above, the camera cools down extremely at low temperatures. Therefore, you should make sure that you let them "thaw" again slowly. Otherwise, condensation may form in the camera.

You can also work around or at least reduce this problem by using a bag such as a freezer bag. After the excursion, pack the camera in the bag, squeeze out the (moist) air and seal it tightly. After the warm-up phase at home, you can take the camera out again.

If it does happen and the condensation has built up in and on the camera, you should proceed as follows: dry the camera with a cloth and bring it to a place that is not too warm and has good air circulation. Then we have to wait and see.

So now all that is needed is the perfect conditions for frozen fog. Have fun taking pictures in winter!

This article does not contain any paid advertising and has no collaborations.

Categories photography

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