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Fog Machines and Photography
Old 11-23-2003, 04:25 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I'm interested in experimenting with a fog machine in an upcoming shoot.

Fog machines that produce enough to envelope a whole model typically use glycol. (as opposed to desktop fog which often just uses dry ice) If you've been to my website you know I like to shoot nudes or near-nudes with flowing cloth and motion. I'd like to either add fog to the mix or replace the cloth with fog lit in various dramatic ways. My questions:

1. Numerous studies have found glycol fog to be safe, but some performers have found it irritates their throats or nose (because glycol is hydroscopic so it tends to suck the moisture out of whatever it contacts, e.g., in the nose and throat). How common, and at what concentrations does this become a problem?

2. Also, how much of a hazard is it for studio lights, cameras, lenses, etc? I've been told it can leave a residue (a thin slippery film) of glycol on things.

Thanks in advance!
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Re: Fog Machines and Photography
Old 11-24-2003, 11:48 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I've got a few years in the theatre business behind me and have had a some experiance with the stuff.

First off, people's reactions to the fog vary, but too much and it can be a real irritant. Eyes start to turn red, and depending on the person you could have a model with a real coughing fit on your hands. The stuff is safe enough in small amounts but how small depends on who's involved.

In a small space the stuff hangs around for ever and in the end you'll end up with a permenant haze in you studio until you air it out. Make sure you have plenty of ventelation and a couple of good fans to 'clear' the room.

Clean up. If you clean everything right away it's not too bad, but leave it for a day or two so that dust can get added to the mix and it's kind of like cleaning a range hood that's been neglected for too long. The dust acts like a binding agent and it's just gross.

There are water based fog juices that aren't as bad but they don't stay suspended in the air as long. So you end up using more which becomes something of a control problem. Before you shoot you might want to experiment with a fogger and a couple of sample bottles. Check with the folks you're renting from and see if the have small bottles of juice or if they'll pour you a couple of small bottles so that you can give the stuff a try.

Something you can do with this stuff to give you a little more control of the fog and keep it from just filling the room is to use a fog cooler. Some rental places will have bought one, or built one. In essence it's just an outdoor cooler that has a couple of grates in it to hold ice but still allow air to move from one side to the other. If you use small amounts of fog you can keep the stuff cool enough that it will more or less hang near the floor kind of like dry ice but it will last longer. It will rise more than dry ice but you should be able to keep it outta the rafters. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

I would definatly rent a fogger for a day and play around with using it in your studio. They take a little practice to use (it's very easy to get too much fog,) and I doubt you want to be experimenting with it while you have a model hanging around.

I'm looking forward to seeing what you do with the fog.

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