In storytelling, weather is often used as an emotional device, reflecting the feelings and emotions of characters or foreshadowing the events of a momentous scene. Thunder and lightning are symbols of anger and calamity, rain is often the pretext of sadness, and sunshine is inextricably linked to happiness. Then there’s fog, a staple of thrillers and romances alike, used for its mysterious, magical, and unknown qualities. Fog clearing over a lake as two lovers meet at dawn; fog shrouding a mysterious figure, intentions unknown. Even in theater, artificial fog is used to dramatize a scene.

Fog is a powerful tool in photography too, adding depth, texture, and emotion to images. A normal landscape can be heightened with fog, while a subject can be turned into a chilling centerpiece.

There are several types of fog, each lending its own look and feel to the world. Read on to learn how different types are formed and explore the beautiful images captured as the fog rolled in.

Radiation fog 

No, this fog isn’t related to nuclear fallout; it’s a common fog-nomenom that happens after sunset, when the ground radiates the heat it captured during the day, cooling the surrounding air and creating a cloud of fog that persists through the night and usually dissipate by dawn. The Tule fog, a seasonal ground fog that settles over California’s Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys between November and March, is an example of radiation fog.

<a href="" target="_blank">Image by George Koultouridis</a>
<a href="" target="_blank">Image by George Koultouridis</a>

Pictured: [1] Image by George Koultouridis [2] Image by George Koultouridis

Advection fog 

This mist occurs when warm, moist air passes over a cool surface, causing the air to cool to its saturation point. This often happens as warm air moves over snow or cold bodies of water, which is why coastal areas like San Francisco and it’s famous Golden Gate Bridge experience so much of it. Advection fog can blanket huge swaths of land for days at a time.

Image by HelloRF Zcool
<a href="" target="_blank">Image by Radoslaw Lecyk</a>
<a href="" target="_blank">Image by Mehdi Photos</a>

Pictured: [1] Image by Radoslaw Lecyk [2] Image by Mehdi Photos

Evaporation fog (aka steam fog)

This is the mist that hangs over ponds, lakes, and even a heated swimming pool. Known by several names, all of them refer to the fog that forms over bodies of water when cold air passes over. Sometimes, the fog gets caught in a vortex, resulting in a phenomena called steam devils, where the fog visibly rises up in a lazy conical swirl.

Image by Songquan Deng

Sea smoke and Arctic fog

Occurring in the same process of evaporation fog, sea smoke is produced when cold air passes over a warm body of water. Arctic fog looks a lot like the inviting steam rising over a hot cup of coffee – it’s anything but. In this case, a “warm” body of water could be well below 0 degrees F, but the air is even colder, producing the deceptive fog over open bodies of water and ice packs.

<a href="" target="_blank">Image by yui</a>
<a href="" target="_blank">Image by Nancy Gill</a>

Pictured: [1] Image by yui [2] Image by Nancy Gill

Freezing fog

In cold weather, liquid fog droplets freeze to exposed surfaces, creating frost or rime. A hard rime is white ice that can look like barnacles extending from the surface, while a soft rime looks more delicate with its feathery spikes. In the western US, this fog event is known as pogonip, derived from the Shoshone word for cloud.

Image by Kelly Marken

Ice fog 

Ice fog is unique from the other types of fog listed here because it’s formed not from water droplets, but from ice crystals. It only occurs in the coldest regions of the world, where the temperature drops below -40 degrees C, the point at which the suspended liquid in fog begins to freeze.

Image by arcticphotoworks

Upslope fog

As wind blows against a mountain, air rises up along the slope. The air pressure decreases, causing it to expand and condense into water droplets. This fog can envelop wide areas of a mountain range or develop into a sea of clouds that hugs the valley below, making for a very picturesque scene.

<a href="" target="_blank">Image by MMCez</a>
<a href="" target="_blank">Image by aslysun</a>

Pictured: [1] Image by MMCez [2] Image by aslysun

Cloud forest

This isn’t a type of a fog, but a type of rainforest that is created by fog. They exist in tropics, high on mountaintops, where a year-round cloud cover caused by upslope fog has encouraged an ecosystem very different from the flora and fauna of a rainforest.

Image by Elliotte Rusty Harold


Vog isn’t actually fog – it’s a dangerous form of air pollution caused by volcanic activity. When sulfur dioxide mixes with water and oxygen in the air, it creates a haze that looks a lot like fog but can have damaging effects on agriculture and animal and human health. On Hawaii’s Big Island, where the Kilauea volcano has been erupting continuously for over 30 years, there is a monitored Vog index to keep locals and tourists informed about air quality.

Image by Felix Nendzig
<a href="" target="_blank">Image by</a>
<a href="" target="_blank">Image by George Burba</a>