Friday, March 12, 2010

FOG FANCIER

A fog which formed and disappeared within the space of five
minutes a few evenings ago, right at dark
—hence the bluish light.
Since moving to this riverbank, I've become something of a fog connoisseur—that is, I've learned to recognize and appreciate fogs in all their diversity. I'm not just talking the difference between wispy-thin fogs and pea-soup-thick fogs, either. I mean a whole gamut—distinct, dissimilar, ranging in density, apparent color, height, and duration, to name just a few variables.
Does that surprise you, strike you as odd—the notion that not all fogs are alike?
At the most basic definition level, fog is simply a massing of tiny water droplets suspended in the air near the ground. Technically, the only difference between fog, mist, and haze is that fog is denser; the only difference between fog and a cloud is that fog is simply a cloud that touches the ground or, say, the tops of trees. Weather specialists differentiate between fog, mist, and haze on a scale of density based on visibility, plus the difference between mist and haze also compares relative humidity.
Dawn three mornings ago, looking up the hill
toward my neighbor's yard.
Yeah, I know, this scientific hair-splitting is about as interesting as watching eggs coddle. I'm not even going to mention such yawn-inducing matters as condensation nuclei, hygroscopic particles, or thermal radiation. Suffice it to say that most fogs, mists, hazes, and clouds form when the relative humidity is at or near 100 percent. Moisture (humidity) gets added to already damp air, or the air or water suddenly changes temperature—all this revolving around the dew point. Okay, no more weather jargon, I promise.
What I find interesting—and most enjoy—is the look of the fog/mist itself, and the way it changes my view of an otherwise familiar landscape. This has partly to do with how thick or thin the fog is, how high up from the ground or water it extends, and whatever light might happen to be shining through.
The island across from the cottage yesterday morning.
Some fogs are so dense it's like being surrounded by a soggy gray blanket. I can't see the island across from the cottage, and once or twice haven't been able to see the big box elder a dozen feet beyond the front door. Other, thinner fogs only lightly veil the world around. Still other fogs are so thick you think you could walk upon them, completely obliterating whatever is below—usually the surface of the river—yet are only two or three feet high…a puffy, silver-white carpet from bank to bank.
Midday a couple of days ago, when the river
was at it highest; it has since gone down.
Illumination is the real show-stopper. Fogs at dawn might be pink or gold, while those at dusk blue, purple, magenta. The fog might be snowy white, glowing spectrally, like a congregation of ghosts. Or pale yellow-green, like sickly protoplasm in an old 1950s horror flick. I've even seen fogs with swirls of color, caused, I suppose, by the rainbow-like prismatic effects of sunlight shining at the optimum angle through those suspended water droplets.
Some fogs take a long time to form or hang around half the morning; others appear and disappear within a matter of minutes.
Unpredictable, ethereal, spooky, ephemeral, mysterious, mesmerizing. I am indeed a fancier of fogs.
———————

18 comments:

Joy K. said...

I recall driving through a thick fog one morning on my way to work. It was just moments before the sun rose, and suddenly it all turned lavender. It was like driving through a cloud of cotton candy. The effect lasted a minute or so, then it was gone.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Joy K…

What a wonderful experience.

I don't think a lot of folks have any idea that, depending on the light, fogs can seem to take on an array of pale pastel hues—everything from lavender to pink to yellow to blue. Sometimes it's the fog that colors up, sometimes the fog remains white and the atmosphere around it appears to be what's colored. And usually, the effect doesn't last very long—but it's really amazing when you find yourself it its midst.

Thank you for commenting—and if this is your first visit to the riverbank, welcome! BTW, I like your blog.

Tramp said...

Despite all the science there is something unworldly, secretive and mysterious about fog, not only that it hides things from our view but also that we don't know when it will lift to reveal more to us. It is there for us to wonder at as well as measure.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Tramp…

I couldn't agree more. Fog changes our perception by changing our immediate world—altering us along with the view, transforming the familiar and comfortable into something edgier…mysterious, peculiar, beautiful.

You also bring up another point and that is the nature of fog which most interests me does not come from scientific understanding, but from emotional reaction. I like learning and understanding about things, but for me, it's the subjective that makes me care. Science invariably fails when it comes to the human experience. Science can't tell me anything about wonder or joy or love. At the end of the day, I want to write and read about nature mostly from the subjective viewpoint.

Bernie said...

Hi Grizz, well I have been in a fog all week but not the same fog you have told us about which was quite a science lesson.....it has been foggy in the mornings here as well then quite nice when it burns off......I don't mind the fog at all if I am not driving in it. Be well my friend.....:-) Hugs

Rochelle said...

Wow that first picture is amazing!!!

Gail said...

HI GRIZ

I am intrigued and drawn to fog and mist and haze - I love the mystery, illusions, silence, wonder and lack of clarity. Like nature's 'fun-house'. :-)

Beautiful pictures Grizz and great info about fog and clouds and mist - written in such a way as only you cold make interesting, Now that's skill!!

Love Gail
peace.....

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bernie…

We all have our foggy weeks—figurative and literal. I'm glad you're back in blogland. I know you've had a sad, difficult time recently. I hope you're doing okay.

I like fog, too, and don't mid it even when I have to drive through the stuff. There's always more beauty than bother, in my opinion.

Please take care of yourself…

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Rochelle…

That shot was taken when it was almost too dark to see across the stream. The fog started coming off the water in a thick, white blanket. I grabbed my camera and dashed outside. Even after adjusting the ISO to 1200 (I think that's what I shot this frame at), the shutter speed was 1/10th of a second…way too slow to handhold—but I did it anyway and got lucky on one frame. It isn't as neat as I'd have liked—when the fog first appeared it was denser, more defined, really spooky looking—but better than I hoped. And maybe 90 seconds after this shot it was mostly gone.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

I like fog for exactly the same reasons…because it allows and stimulates my imagination to go galloping off in every direction.

Hey, it's not so much my writing skills as the Irish gift for gab and blarney. Plus just enough science so you think I'm smarter than I am. :-D

KGMom said...

Hi Fog Fancier--
I had two opposite encounters with fog. The first was when I had to drive a rental car at 5 a.m., and encountered pea-soup fog on a totally unfamiliar road. One of the scariest drives of my life.
The second was the day our daughter got married, this past October. We hoped for lovely autumnal weather, but got instead a rainy day. Then just as the reception was about to begin, the rain cleared, and a lovely Brigadoon like fog descended on the river, transforming it into a lovely fairy tale setting.
Fog--go figure.

Teri and the cats of Furrydance said...

from sparkling to dull, from mist to almost 'in the clouds", your photos today are amazing

Cherrie said...

great pictures!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

KGMom…

You never can figure fog, for sure. I loved the story re. your daughter's wedding—that's just so neat.

The worst fog I ever drove through—and I'm not making this up—I was driving an old girlfriend, her mother, and a cousin up the spine of the Appalachians all the way to Maryland one winter's night. Two-lane roads. Somewhere in the Shenandoahs, long after midnight, we ran into incredible fog. The higher up a mountain, the worse it got. Near the tops, it was so thick—so blanketing dense—you literally couldn't see the front of the car, just a glow from the headlights. So, being younger and dumber, I would get out and walk along beside the car, shining a flashlight on the road's marked centerline right at my feet, and steer through the open window; my girlfriend took care of gas and brakes. I'd have to walk about a half mile up one side and another half-mile down on the opposite until the fog thinned enough to be able to see 8-10 feet in front of the car. Then I'd get back in, creep on ahead. A hundred yards down from that point, visibility would expand to 20-30 feet, then 50-80, and so, and the lower half of the mountains were fog-free. I know now we were really driving through low clouds which were enveloping the higher ranges. Anyway, we crossed a half-dozen peaks that way, met not a single other car (I being the only genuine fool on the road that night) and added hours and hours to our already long trip. But it was a real adventure.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Teri…

I like photographing fog; I'm glad you liked some of the shots.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Cherrie…

Thank you. The first shot is, I think, my favorite.

Rochelle said...

Grizz, I'm impressed that you take shots and actually do more than point and shoot with a digital like I do. I used to know all about shutter speed and film exposure and now I could have my eyes closed and snap and these amazing little pocket digitals take far better, clearer, colorful shots than I ever could when trying, so I gave it all up, lol

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Rochelle…

The little point-and-shoots are really amazing. I just need interchangeable lenses for birds and landscapes and such…but no, I'm not smarter than a basic digital camera when it comes to most exposures.