Home photography ideas: Use artificial fog or smoke to create a cinematic portrait

We’ve all seen those steam-filled railway platforms in black-and-white movies from the ’50s, and the way atmospheric they will be. Even at a concert the looks of artificial fog (dry ice) creates a moody atmosphere, and it’s no different within the stills photography world.

By adding some artificial fog – we used a can of Atmosphere Aerosol – you’ll turn plain environments into dramatic stages, with shafts of sunshine illuminating the areas around a model. All you would like may be a willing participant, a window with some direct light and harsh shadows, and therefore the fog to fill it with. this system works best indoors with no air movement, but if the air is comparatively calm outside and you’ve got the power to get tons of artificial fog, you’ll get your shoes on and head into the outdoors .

We took our model, Esme, to the Avon Valley Railway in Bitton, UK, for our photoshoot. As you’ll see, those vintage railway carriages made the right location for a touch of simulated steam! However, this is often also an ideal project for capturing stunning portraits reception . So, grab your camera, your artificial fog and model, and we’ll explore what you would like to try to to .

Take your tripod

Shoot handheld initially to seek out your favorite viewpoint . If your shots are blurry because you would like to use a longish shutter speed, use a tripod. However, we found that a tripod wouldn’t slot in the strange shapes of the carriage, so we went handheld for many of the shoot.

No sun…?

No problem. you’ll definitely shoot this project without a flashgun, but if you’ve a dull, cloudy day then some artificial light might be your grace . Cover your flashgun with a warming gel, confirm it’s set to at a good zoom (35mm is fine) and place it outside the carriage, about six feet away, pointing in through the window. Leave it bare to make the long, hard shadows you would like to intensify the fog.

Find the right backdrop

We visited Avon Valley Railway to seek out the right train carriage for our backdrop. This restored 1950s carriage already oozes character. Finding an appropriate location is half the battle in getting your smoke-filled photo to seem authentic and atmospheric. However, you’ll also try using your front room or study to capture a similarly cinematic effect.

Include some props

If you’ve got a special location, confirm you’ve got props. The lamps within the train carriage looked good, but they looked even better once we’d turned them on. We made sure that each light was on during the shoot to act as ‘practical lights’, as they assert in cinematography.

Go the additional mile

When you’ve gone to the trouble of finding a fantastic location, you don’t want your model to take a seat down wearing standard T-shirt and jeans. Go the additional mile and find some clothing to enrich the situation – it’s even as important because the camera settings.

Add some fog

We used an aerosol fog spray by Atmosphere Aerosol to make our fog, and it’s currently only available within the us . If you’re not within the US you’ll also use a smoke machine instead. Spray the fog ahead of the windows in broad swathes to spotlight the strong shafts of sunshine .

Direct your model

You can be creative when posing your model: does one want them to face ahead of the windows, with the sunshine striking the fog and creating leading lines, or does one need a smokey side-shot? We took both, but preferred the seated pose showing more of the carriage.

Expose for the sunshine

To minimize depth of field, we set an aperture of f/2.8 at ISO100 in manual mode. We then adjusted the shutter speed until the ambient light was a stop under-exposed, to form the foremost of the sunshine streaming through the windows, and really bring out the feel of the fog.

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