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Posts Tagged ‘fog’

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

 

 

 

How to Create a Cool Animated Mist Effect in Photoshop CS5

May 23rd, 2011 2 comments
Animated Gifs

Animated Gifs

I love these animated gifs and wanted to try something like that myself. I did a photoshoot a couple of months ago and used a fog machine to create a misty background. It would be cool to show the mist swirling around in a short animated gif. The original photo had some mist, but I wanted to add some more in Photoshop and then animate it.

Original:

Model

Original Photo

Animated:

Fog Animation

Fog Animation Effect

Photoshop CS5

Level of difficulty: Intermediate. You should be familiar with working with layers, resizing images and using the warp tool.

Create the mist layers:

(Click on the screen shots to zoom)

    • Create a blank layer above the edited/retouched photo
    • Paint some mist on the blank layer & name the layer Mist 1. I used these mist brushes by SpiritSighs.
Mist Brushes

Mist Brushes

    • Copy the layer, name it Mist 2 and warp it using Edit => Transform => Warp. You can warp the mist to make it look like it has drifted around.
    • Copy the warped layer and repeat with another warp (Mist 3).
    • Copy the above layer and warp it again (Mist 4). You will now have the original image plus four mist layers above it. Click on Fig. 1 to expand.
Mist Layers

Fig. 1 Layer palette with mist layers

Create the Animation Frames:

    • Select the 5 layers and open the animation window (Window => animation – Fig. 2). Make sure you are in frame view (Fig. 3).

Fig. 2 Opening the Animation Window

Fig. 3 Animation window in frame view

  • Click on the frame and duplicate it by dragging it to the new frame icon. Repeat this four times to give a total of 5 frames (Fig. 4 & 5).
Duplicating the frame

Fig. 4 Duplicating the frame

Duplicating the frame

Fig. 5 Duplicating the frame

  • Click on the first frame. Go to the layers panel and make only the base layer (retouch) visible (Fig. 6).
Layer visiblity

Fig. 6 Click on the eye to hide, click again to reveal layer

  • Click on the second frame and make the retouch layer on the Mist 1 layer visible using the layers panel
  • Click on the third frame and make the base layer & the Mist 2 layer visible.
  • Click on the fourth frame and make the base layer & the Mist 3 layer visible
  • Click on the fifth frame & make the base layer & the Mist 4 layer visible
  • Select all 5 frames by clicking on the first and Shift-Clicking on the last one.
  • Change the frame delay time to 0.1 (Fig. 7) You can try different timings depending on what works best for your project.
Change frame delay

Fig. 7 Change frame delay

Tween the animation to make it run more smoothly

  • Click on the first frame and Shift-click on the second frame
  • Go to the animation menu and choose Tween… (Fig. 8)
Animation Menu

Fig. 8 Animation Menu

  • Enter 10 in the “frames to add box” and select all layers, and position & opacity (Fig. 9)
Fig 9 Tween Dialog Box

Fig. 9 Tween Dialog Box

  • Select frames 12 & 13 and repeat the Tween for these two frames. Repeat this for frames 23 & 24 and 34 & 35 (See Fig. 10)
Tweening Frames

Fig. 10 Tweening Frames

  • Duplicate the last frame (45) and move it to the front
  • Tween the first and second frames as before. This makes the animation smoothly cycle back to the beginning.
  • Make sure the repeat mode is “Forever”
  • Save everything!

Check it out – when you press the play button you will have a pretty smooth animation!

Save the animated gif

  • Resize the image to the size that you want (I used a height of 375 pixels because it gave me a file size under 2 MB). Go to Image => Image Size and select the size that you want, making sure to lock the aspect ratio.
  • Go to File => Save for Web & Devices.
  • Set to “forever”
  • Select Gif and Save (Fig. 11)
Fig. 11 Saving the GIF

Fig. 11 Saving the GIF

To view the animated gif, open it with your browser.

I’m looking forward to doing some more of these animations and have lots of ideas for future shoots! If you have tried it, please share by posting a link in the comments section.

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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