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Archive for the ‘Fog Machine’ Category

Sultry Smoke and Shadows

January 21st, 2012 No comments

Shadows are as interesting as the light. Chiaroscuro is a term used in photography, as well as cinema and painting, that literally means “light-dark” and originates from the Italian Renaissance. The shadows help define the image, making the two dimensional appear three dimensional.

The idea for this shoot was to have the model, Saori, emerging into the light from the shadows. To get that effect, I used a black seamless background, making sure that the key light did not spill onto it by keeping them well-separated. I started with a large gridded softbox close to Saori, on camera right to light the portraits and close-ups, highlighting Julia’s makeup work. By moving the softbox in very close, the light falls off quickly so the opposite side of her face is quite a bit darker than the side with the light. To control the shadow’s darkness I used a large white foamcore panel and a silver disk reflector for fill light.

For the full body shots, I really wanted to get the shadowy look, so I used a more focused light – a gridded strobe on a boom in front and above Saori. For an interesting background, I put a fog machine and another strobe to backlight the smoke/fog behind Saori. For some of the shots, I used a blue gel on the strobe to make a blue smoke effect. With this set-up, Saori’s face was well lit and her body gradually became darker, fading into blackness.

Post-processing was done with Lightroom 3.3 and Photoshop CS5.

Credits:
Inspired modelling by Saori Sloan
Beautiful peacock themed makeup by Julia Lockley

 

 

 

Black Light Photography with a UV Cannon

March 6th, 2011 2 comments

Credits:
Model: Stephanie Peregrinus
Bodypainting: Meg’s War Paint
Music: ®Evolution by Melange Promenade

Video created using Animoto.

Here’s a video slideshow created with photos shot using a 400 watt UV cannon as the main light source.  In an earlier post about black light photography, one of the readers suggested trying a UV cannon, a special effects light often used by clubs and DJs.  In my other shoots, I used four 40 watt fluorescent tubes. They worked well, but it would be nice to have a more powerful light source to allow me to use a faster shutter speed and lower ISO.

UV Cannon

American DJ UV Cannon

The black light cannon worked well, but was different to work with compared to the fluorescent tubes. The main advantage of the UV cannon was how is easy to set up. You just point it at the model and plug it in. It takes about 10-15 minutes to warm up and gives a good strong light. It can be moved around and repositioned, although it should be turned off and cooled down before moving it to avoid damaging the bulb.

I was surprised that it doesn’t give off as much light as I thought.  I expected it to be much more powerful than the 160 watts from the 4 fluorescent tubes. In practice, it was not really more powerful than the four fluorescent tubes, mainly because I can put the tubes very close to the model most of the time, which is not practical with the UV cannon.  Also, the UV cannon is a hard light source that casts a sharp shadow, making the light quality quite different than the fluorescent tubes.  I surround the model with the tubes, reducing shadows and creating a more even light. I placed a white nylon diffusion panel in front of the UV cannon to help soften the light, which further reduced the power from the light.

Overall, the UV cannon would probably work best placed in front and above the model in a butterfly lighting setup. It also would be best to use when you want dramatic shadows. It’s high power would also work great for lighting backgrounds and sets. I’m continuing to explore different ways to use it.

I’m interested in hearing from other photographers who have done UV photography – any suggestions or ideas? What is your favourite UV light set up?

Here’s the same video on YouTube for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch:

5 Tips for using a fog machine for studio photography

September 26th, 2010 4 comments
The Trouble with Ducts

Fog machine with side lighting. Model: Katilin V, Makeup by Catriona Armour

Fog adds a cool look and atmosphere to a studio shoot. I bought a fog machine at a local party supply store and got an extra bottle of “fog juice”. One bottle lasts for a long time so I have plenty of it left, even after using it for about a dozen shoots. This fog machine has a handy remote control that lets me fire a blast of fog when I’m ready to shoot. They are pretty popular for Halloween so you may see them for sale for a good price at this time of year.

The type of machine I use is a “glycol fogger” and it works by heating up a fluid called “fog juice” and then shooting the fog out of a nozzle.  Since I am a chemist as well as a photographer, I needed to know what fog juice actually is. It is mainly glycerin, propylene glycol and water and is non-toxic (note – a similar sounding chemical – ethylene glycol – is toxic and should not be used for fog machines!). However, there is always the possibility that certain people could be sensitive to the glycerin and propylene glycol so it’s a good idea to make sure everyone is OK with it when the fog starts.

There are other ways to generate fog. For example, dry ice and water works, but it’s expensive and difficult to use. Dry ice must be handled carefully because it is extremely cold and will burn bare skin. Because dry ice produces carbon dioxide gas when it warms up, it should be used in well-ventilated areas, and never in small enclosed spaces due to the risk of suffocation.  The fog is colder than the surrounding air and will sink to the ground, which might be an interesting effect. The fog from the glycol fogger doesn’t sink – it tends to float at the level where it was generated.

Here are some tips based on my experience with using the fog machine.

A Force to Reckon With

Fog machine with back lighting. Model: BabieAngie, Makeup: Krystal Leong

Lighting

The fog needs lighting to make it visible. Back lighting with the strobe out-of-frame or hidden behind the model looks great. Also, side lighting works well as shown in the shot of Kaitlin V. I use a hard light – usually a strobe with a tight grid or snoot to give a beam of light through the fog. Use the same precautions that you would normally use when potentially shooting into the light – use flags to shield the lens and avoid lens flare. Sometimes a bit of flare looks cool with the fog so you may want to experiment!

Fashion Doll

Fog machine using a black background and strobes with blue gels. Model: Charity, Makeup: Jennifer Ruth, Fashion Stylist: Celina Prado

Use a dark background

The fog is white and does not show up against light backgrounds. Use a dark background such as black seamless paper or black fabric for the most dramatic look. I learned that the hard way when I tried shooting against a white background and the fog was hardly visible!

Use gels

You can change the colour of the fog by putting a gel on the strobe that’s lighting the fog. You can also light the fog with two strobes, using gels with harmonizing colours to create a dramatic look.

Tribal Belly Dancer

Fog machine and strobe with red gel. Model: Stephanie Peregrinus, Makeup and hair stylist: Catriona Amour

Have an assistant

It helps a lot to have an assistant (for me it’s usually the makeup artist!) to direct the fog by pointing the machine in the right place – usually in front of the lights or behind the model. I use a light weight fog machine so it is not too difficult to hold for a while. Some of the more industrial grade machines are heavier so you need a strong “fog wrangler” for the job! Make sure the assistant knows that the nozzle of the fog machine can get quite hot! I get my assistant to move the fog machine in the right place, then let her know when I’m going to blast some fog with the remote control.

Use sparingly

The best looking fog is usually very soon after it comes out of the machine. This is when you get lots of swirling, smoky fog. It quickly diffuses and after a while it dissipates through the studio, creating a haze that doesn’t look so great. When there’s too much fog between the camera and the model, it just reduces the contrast. If I’m doing several sets, I usually wait until the end for the fog, or open up the studio after a while and blow it out with an electric fan!

Have fun

Don’t forget to have fun and experiment with it! If you have some tips for using fog in photography, please share them in the comment section.

Credits

Catriona Armour

Krystal Leong

Jennifer Ruth

Charity

BabieAngie

Stephanie Peregrinus

Kaitlin V

Celina Prado

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