Posted by: kerryl29 | August 1, 2022

The Story Behind the Image: Androscoggin River Fog

Six years ago this autumn I spent a couple of weeks in northern New England. The first third of the trip was based at a location I hadn’t previously visited and knew relatively little about prior to my arrival–northwest Maine. I arrived, following a two-day drive from the Midwest, in the tiny hamlet of Rumford Center mid-afternoon on a Sunday. At the family-owned motel where I was staying, I had a pleasant conversation with the proprietor who, after I explained why I was there, gave me some location suggestions and also mentioned that I was free to photograph anywhere on the property, which was located on the banks of the Androscoggin River.

After an unusually warm September up to that point (I arrived on Sept. 25) the previous night had seen temperatures drop to freezing and it was expected to be even colder heading into the 26th. Early morning would certainly include river mist. I didn’t need any more information to settle on the decision to photograph along the motel’s river bank first thing the following morning.

(I have discussed the subject of fog and its relevance to landscape photography on a number of occasions during the history of this blog, most extensively here, but here as well, and I recommend both of these posts if you want to read about the subject in some depth.)

When I got up and out in the pre-dawn darkness the following morning–the light was just starting to come up–it was cold. The air temperature was something like 28 degrees (F); there was frost all over the grass. As I made my way down to the river bank–it was a short walk, perhaps a couple of hundred feet, from my room–I glanced around and the impact of the river fog was palpable. I had to decide how best to work with it.

Though this was a river–not a lake or a pond–the water was so slow-moving that excellent reflections were available. I made some images, but I felt that, given the broad expanse across this wide river, I would need the fog to thin a bit, allowing the wider scene to reveal itself in part, before the full ambiance of the setting would be felt. And that would happen, I was confident, as the sun came up.

Sure enough, in relatively short order, the river mist began to thin. Above the cloud bank, a partly cloudy sky, with subtle coloring, showed itself. And as the lower fog bank thinned out as well, the treeline on the far side of the river and the contour of the hills in the background could be discerned.

I went to work. I decided that I wanted some semblance of a foreground, to create a sense of depth. There weren’t a lot of great options–believe, me I looked–but I settled on the tall grasses in the lower left hand corner. There was no wind, so shutter speed wasn’t a concern. Liking the cloud pattern, I placed the horizon line about 3/5 of the way from the top of the frame and let the reflections, and my foreground elements, fill in the bottom 40%. The background convergence, where the treeline on the right meets the hillside (in reality, the river bends between the two), with the fog/cloud accent, was deliberately placed left of center in the frame.

Androscoggin River at Daybreak, Oxford County, Maine

To view a larger rendition of this image, go here. Be sure to click on the image in the new window to see full frame version.

To see thumbnails of other images from this location made on the same morning, go here.



  1. Really lovely image, Kerry. Very three-dimensional — feels like I could walk right into the scene. Perfect timing with the clearing fog.

    • Thanks, Steve!

  2. Great image! One additional thing is, you need to arrive early to witness a scene like this. Occasionally it may happen after a rain or hail storm, but early mornings are usually the best time.

    • Thanks!

      Yes, this is absolutely an example of early morning conditions. A chilly (pushing or exceeding the freezing mark) overnight will lead to mist forming above the warmer water; basically, the dew point is being met, creating a fog-like substance. As the air warms up as the morning wears on, the necessary conditions disappear. So, you definitely need to be present and ready to go before first light.

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