Capturing the subtle color variations in light and fog can be especially challenging for a photographer, but Ross Buswell, who also goes by the name Atmospherics, has mastered the art. His regular visits to Capilano River Regional Park in North Vancouver often result in hazy images that are dramatic and, well, atmospheric.
The lake, which serves as a reservoir for the city’s water supply, is close to Ross’ home, and he says he stops by the location once or twice a season, during various times of the day, to photograph the fog the Pacific Northwest is known for.
“There’s a variety of changing light and mist conditions at different times throughout the day, and the entire location takes on different looks for each season,” he says. “I’m gradually building up a series of shots from this location.”
Since he usually has his camera bag set up and ready to go at a moment’s notice, many of Ross’ photos are taken spontaneously – when he happens to find just the right combination of light, fog, and atmosphere to create the perfect shot.
Camera & Settings
24.3MP FX-Format CMOS Sensor, Full HD 1080p Video Recording at 60 fps
His landscape images are typically photographed with his Nikon D750 and a Nikkor ED 80-200mm f/2.8, or a Sony a7R, alternating between 14mm and 20mm wide-angle lenses.
For this shot, Ross used his Nikon equipment. Using his Manfrotto BeFree carbon fiber tripod as a monopod, he shot the scene at 200mm with an aperture of f/6.3, his ISO set to 400, and an exposure time of 1/320.
“The telephoto is a beautiful, heavy pro lens, and shoots remarkably well at any focal length or f-stop,” he says. “I didn’t need a lot of time to set this one up, as it wasn’t a time exposure and the lens didn’t need any filters attached.”
To frame his shot in a way that would accurate capture the landscape, Ross says he zoomed in as far as he could on a tree leaning in on the lower middle of the frame – but left enough room to include the pointed tree tops poking out of the mist in the distance.
“Both elements that I really think adds to the mysterious feel of the shot,” he says. “I wanted to capture the silence and mood of the swirling fog moving around the lake and the hills in the distance.”
Ross then applied a little light post-processing to enhance the elements he had so carefully captured. While most of his editing and color grading are done in Camera Raw, he says he does use Adobe Photoshop sparingly, as well.
“I don’t add in colors that aren’t already in the image – I just try to pull out some of the more subtle ones,” he says. “I do sometimes do further slight tonal adjustments in Selective Colors in Photoshop. Selective Colors is a very powerful module in Photoshop, and I use it in a very subtle way.”
Ross hopes his final image gives viewers a chance to enjoy some of the soft, quiet stillness of Vancouver’s Capilano Lake Park, adding that it’s “a beautiful spot I’m lucky to live near.”
The rest of Ross’ photography offers a similar atmospheric mood, showcasing some of the best landscapes found on the Canadian side of the Pacific Northwest. His work can be found on his Instagram or on Flickr, as well as on his website.
Jessi Gowan is an award-winning writer and photographer who specializes in rural landscapes and fine art abstracts, with a focus on form and composition. Her photography has been included in a variety of publications, as well as in exhibitions in Canada and the United States.