December 1, 2012 Amazing Night and Morning Part 1 - Night Fogbows

If at first you don't succeed, try 1000 more times, then perhaps a night and morning like this may come along. The land from Sioux City to Nebraska City, in Iowa, is flat between the bluffs. When it is moist, clear and calm, it's a great place for fog to form. The trick is getting just right fog, as the hills/bluffs aren't that tall. So it is easy to get socked in with too deep general fog. It's apparently even more easy to just not even get fog, when you are damn sure it is a perfect setup for it. Any added wind or added dryness, or even unexpected cirrus or mid-level junk, can keep temps from dropping low enough to form fog. It really is an utter nightmare to chase, for the perfect conditions to happen. Now throw in wanting it with a good moon phase, after you've seen it a few times without....lol. My nemesis. I've gotten close to worthy fog and op before, but not fulfilling. I will go and go and go and bust and bust and bust when I want to see what the potential with something is. This night, it really all came together and then some. I mean I guess it could "sea out" deeper, better than it did, but it was close enough. What ends up happening is more than I even thought of happening. I never even thought of having the moon up and just to the west at sunrise with that op. So that you get moon-lit fog in the hills and well then a sunrise. Moon behind you is best on the fog it seems. To have cirrus around and other clouds is not usually helping your fog formation. I can't even begin to think of the odds for what happens at sunrise to happen again. Great fog(huge difficult factor on its own, as again so easy to be too deep there or just too shallow 5 foot fog bands)...great moon phase...and the time it does those two finally, well there's perfectly placed cirrus to the southeast, not harming our temps and fog....and last but far from least....at and before sunrise during twilight the moon is angled just west of straight up, giving perfect lighting. We wound up with an amazingly epic sunrise scene. We were content before we even got the lunar fogbows we got, before the sunrise we got lol.

The day was hazy with weak fog and mostly stratus. The stratus was clearing here right at sunset, ideal for ground fog if it's moist and winds stay light and it's clear. There was enough nw flow off the ground to be clearing out the skies, but the surface front was to the northwest yet and dying out more or less. I thought, well this looks like a pretty great setup for possible sea out fog ops from the bluffs in western Iowa. I knew the moon was close to full but checked on it's rise and set time. Rose a bit before 8pm and was 90% full. We'd have it all night. I e-mailed Chris, Evan and Brett about the possible op. I almost didn't because I didn't figure anyone would be game anyway and actually go. Right away Chris and Evan were both interested and ready to go. I'm so glad they did, as I'm 99% certain I'd never have gone the entire night like we did if I was solo the whole time.

Evan heads up to town from Omaha and we meet Chris on the hill by Little Sioux. Chris having driven down from near Yankton SD. The thing about crazy ops is usually they aren't right out your back door or at friendly hours of the day. And they bust a lot to get to the good stuff. Evan hasn't had as many crappy trips for this as Chris and I have lol. And I've done it the most.

Soon as we cross the bridge in Blair to Iowa, we hit fog. Pretty dense fog. We get behind a car on the way into Modale. Too foggy to pass them, so we just stayed behind them. As we are about in Modale, there is zero sign of the town. Out of nowhere, the house south of town pops out to our right lol. Then it gets even worse. It gets as bad as it gets. The car ahead of us stops, in the south side of town, because they couldn't even find the road anymore. Like a complete stop. It was amazing, really. We opt for the interstate from there, as it seemed we'd be less likely to nail a deer we had no chance of seeing in time. It was bad but not too bad to drive in.

As is typically the case with Murray Hill, if there is anywhere that is dry, it is the whole area below the hill. Like it is just a bit higher down there than the rest of the flats. Oh yeah, during those parts where you couldn't even find the road, you could really see the moon and stars above plain as day. That is always so neat.

Chris shows up and we decide to head over to a hill north of Pisgah, because it was sorta lame at Murray Hill yet. We play with fog bows over there. Coming into that town we had again found 0 visibility fog again. And I'm talking, have to stop the car because you can't find the road 0 visibility. Seemed to love getting real bad near the towns. Everywhere else was 2 yellow highway lines visibility, which is bad enough. I really wish we had tried to image a couple of those crazy spots from the car. You'd have to keep kicking the wipers on because you were just certain your window as also fogged the hell over with dew, but it wasn't. There just wasn't jack for visibility. Finding this road north of Pisgah was "fun" and we knew exactly where it was. Chris missed it. I saw it, backed up to turn on it, but couldn't even see it with my head out the window there lol. Was like dude I can't find where to drive onto it.

Playing with the op. Meeting myself "from the other side". Just walk slow into exposure, then at end quickly jump and turn around and stand still for a second. Then run back fast as to not show up on the left. Not all fog makes great fogbows. These want uniformly sized water drops. Some fog you can't even make fogbows.

Chris had recently upgraded to the 5D II and 24-105L. I too just got that same camera and 3 primes. This was our first thing to really shoot with our new gear. Half the reason we were both so game this night, as well as the year completely sucking for chasing and weather ops as it was. These fogbows were shot with the Samyang 14mm F2.8,which I'm quite happy with. The thing has amazing resolution. Other shots would be with the Zeiss 21mm F2.8 which is completely nuts. I now get what all this micro contrast talk is with Zeiss lenses. The fine detail contrast and resolution is really surprising to see on the full size files.

More walking into the fogbow.

Really I'm not taking a whiz.

Evan and Chris standing behind me, with my car headlights down there a ways and the moon poking through above. Evan has tape on the back of his camera with his name and number on it(good idea btw). This was with the 14mm Samyang. Full size resolution I can just about read that on his camera lol. That lens rules and is so silly cheap for such a lens.

We head back to Murray Hill to see how the fog was progressing. That is the road back to Pisgah with a car on it. Really damn foggy no visibility drive this night. Even where there was no fog, the whole night the road looked like it had poured out, ponding and everything.

Telephoto shot back to the southwest from the hill, Little Sioux in the fog. That to me is pretty good fog depth for here. It's better than the even thinner stuff you can get that just doesn't cover things up well near the hill base. But a real "sea out" that has depth progressing part way up the hill we are on, well when that happens you cann't see anything out there, barely even light getting through on long exposures. Just a sea of flat fog. I will take this for sure though.

As the light breeze blew around it would mix out the fog some and thin it down.

Then it would thicken back up. It can be utterly amazing how fast this all can change. And it can be highly frustrating that something is wrong and it will never improve too. I thought this night we'd actually have problems of fog getting too tall. Evidently the wave that came across and took out the stratus at sunset was rather dry and that flow extended far down.

Chris down there on the edge. A sea out would have the fog coming part way up that hill. For a good part of the early night our moon was getting blocked by clouds to the east, at least partially.

Looking about due west out to the flats.

Had to try this real quick before the cirrus moved in, that we could see to the west.

I decide to explore the hillside to the east. Everywhere I walked I had a bright light around my shadow. The opposition effect. The moonlight reflecting off the heavy dew.

While back at Murray I begin to wonder why we never tried what we always talked about doing with fogbows when there were more of us together shooting them. Drive through them. So back to Pisgah we drove. Through the same impossible to see fog. Our fogbows now weren't as vivid. Our fog there had changed a lot too, for the worse. Felt discouraged at that point. Just a bit too much breeze mixing it all back out.

We then decide to do one with a star trail, a north facing shot. After a dead end filled with deer as we explored options, we opt for the flats below Murray Hill. So back over there we drove. This idea will be better suited for no moon nights. Our fog or cirrus would make the stars almost impossible to even see at times. This has potential. The trick is warming the gear up big time before you start it. Once the gear is the same temp as the outside air, hello dew.

It's probably 3 a.m. now and getting sleepy is becoming a problem. Being cold wasn't helping either. You get warmed up in the car and it makes you more tired and also you get cold so much faster next time you go out. We head up the hill again anyway. The view east was sad, like no fog. Yet on our way up the hill it was all changing fast. In no time the east was pretty full and some of it blowing over us.

I explore over the hill again. There was a sweet river of fog that would flow through here then down into the flats behind me to the west. Both times I went for it it would vanish on me. My feet were now soaked as hell with a bit of cow poo thrown in as well I'm sure. Hell there is a patty behind me in this shot.

We were quite content with the night already. Then she went crazy. Wind from the east blew a river of fog at us. Soon we had our lunar fog bow we had been hoping for. The moon was damn high for this. Only way it would work was on a steep hill looking down. It's faint here, behind the tree.

Pretty amazing scene and lighting with the lunar fogbow.

Evan now down here with me, under the fogbow.

Lunar fogbow getting better. Problem was our fog was racing back down the hill leaving us behind. No point in chasing it as you need the slope to get the bow with such a high moon now.

First we had the wind change and increase that blew that fog in on us from the east. That changed and blew it away but that same change also moved in some fog from down below to the west. Evan and I were over there on that hill for a while before this, with no fog around but down below. It wasn't too cold. Like 40 maybe. When the wind picked up from the sw, holy crap. As the fog rolled over us from down below, it brought much colder air with. Felt like a 20 degree change and sucked fast. In a way all this was perfect. Too deep and you have fog between you and the moon/light source which makes for a dim fogbow or none at all. We could just chase this optic up and down this hill with the changing fog. Problem was it was now closing in on 6 a.m. and twilight would soon render it a lost cause. Glad it happened when it did though.

Can start to see the early twilight effects on the longer exposures. Also notice the opposition light coming in below.

Panned down to get the strong opposition light with the lunar fogbow.

What a night. We had been there since 8pm doing all this. Now 6 a.m. and it was about to go completely insane. The most amazing lighting and morning scene I've seen. Please go to part 2 here to see the moon-lit foggy sunrise op part of this epic night. (CLICK HERE)