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Guide to fog machines for photo and video
Reading time: 6 minutes - November 14, 2023 - by Markus Igel

Guide to fog machines for photo and video

Adding fog effects to your shots has never been easier! With Lensgo and SmokeGenie, there are several fog generators available on the market and we have them all! That's why we want to give you an assessment of what the various fog machines are best suited to and can be used for.

Why use fog for photos or videos?

The use of fog in photos and videos can create various artistic effects and improve the visual impact of the image, which we would like to explain to you below to illustrate the importance of fog:

  • Atmosphere and mood: Fog creates a mysterious and atmospheric mood. It can diffuse the light and create soft contours, giving the image a dreamlike or mysterious atmosphere.
  • Depth effect: Fog reduces visibility, making objects in the distance appear fainter. This can create an interesting depth effect and give the image a certain dimensionality.
  • Lighting effects: Fog can refract light rays and diffuse light sources. This leads to interesting light effects, such as rays shining through the fog or a halo effect around light sources.
  • Hiding details: The fog can be used to hide or obscure certain details. This can be used to give the image a certain abstraction or to draw the focus to certain elements.
  • Emphasizing contrasts: Fog can help to emphasize contrasts. Objects in the foreground can appear sharper, while those in the background are softened by the fog.
  • Introduction of movement: The fog can move in the image, especially in windy conditions. This can give the image a dynamic component and introduce a certain movement or restlessness.

It is important to note that the effect of fog depends heavily on your own style and the style you want to achieve. Some photographers use fog to create a romantic or melancholic atmosphere, while others use it to create a dark or surreal mood. Experiment with different types and amounts of fog to achieve the desired effect.

We want to show you what a compact fog machine like the LensGo SmokeB has to offer in terms of content production and versatility. LensGo itself has a good video here, which we will therefore refer to:

Lensgo SmokeB Fog Machine

  • Compact fog machine
  • 40W vaporizer
  • Integrated rechargeable battery 2550mah
  • 18 minute continuous operation possible

Different ways to create smoke and fog

Especially if you want to use fog in the studio or indoor set, there are several ways to generate fog, in addition to the classic fog machine, you can also use smoke spray / fog spray. But you can also use compact fog machines in a handy size that are based on a powerful e-cigarette.

Of course, natural fog can already exist on site, especially if you are in a field or at a lake in the morning or evening hours in the fall or spring, it may well be that there is fog there or that it is rising. A small chemistry set, aka. dry ice with water, can also be used to create fog, which is particularly heavy and collects on the ground and has a particularly mystical effect and is often used for effects around cocktails, chemistry labs and the like.

As a last resort, you can also use a smoke flare / smoke bomb, but we strongly advise against this, because although they are easy to use, you can quickly get into trouble with the authorities. These smoke generators produce massive amounts of smoke and can be perceived as a fire by passers-by. You should talk to the local fire department beforehand so that they are at least informed. You will still have to go out.

Effect of different smoke generators

  • Fog spray: Fog from a can is very "Hazy", there are less heavy clouds, but rather a complete haze that spreads through the room. This is largely due to the fact that, of course, neither combustion nor vaporization takes place, but only a final mixture is spread from the can.
  • Fog machine (big): Here the fog can be controlled in different ways, depending on the mixture of the fog liquid and how much power the fog machine has. Some can also be adjusted in terms of output. These fog machines can only be used outdoors with a generator / power station. However, the amount of smoke/fog produced is usually very large.
  • Fog machine handheld: This is where the form factor comes into play! They can be transported in a space-saving manner and, depending on the model, the intensity can be regulated and the battery can be changed. These devices can create both haze and fog clouds and can also be used for some outdoor pictures. They can also be used to emulate dry ice. The intensity of the fog can also be varied via the liquid used.
  • Smoke flare: Large smoke development with a long service life. Relatively short burn times and legally very difficult. The unique feature here is that the flares produce smoke / fog in different colors.

The big advantage of compact fog machines is their price and versatility, as few devices can be used for so many different things. The LensGo or SmokeGenie, with its range and settings, can produce fog that simplifies everyday life on set and is easy to use even for non-professionals. As is the case with the LensGo fog machine, which can be operated quickly without any settings.

The SmokeGenie is aimed at ambitious photographers and videographers who need a lot of fog over a long period of use and are dependent on the many functions in the depth of the device.

SmokeGENIE Handheld Professional Smoke Machine Pro Pack

  • compact smoke machine
  • up to 4 hours battery life
  • Exchangeable battery
  • 25 different settings for the spread and quantity of smoke
  • various attachments
  • ideal for creative photos, film productions and performances

Notes on the use of fog and smoke

We would like to give you a few tips on the subject of fog below:

  • Dismantle the smoke detectors before use
  • The less wind there is, the longer the smoke or fog stays in the same place
  • Find out whether the fog leaves any residue behind
  • Outdoors, fog can be perceived as fire, which may well lead to an operation
  • Find out whether the fog is harmful to health
  • Ventilate the room well afterwards

Condor photo fog effect spray

  • Inexpensive spray
  • Compact to store
  • Very good for dark effects

Application examples for fog

Fog offers many areas of application beyond portraits! The heavy fog can also be used particularly well in food photography or for elegant product shots where you want to create a certain mood in the shot. For example, when unveiling a new product.

If you want to make light sources visible, you can also use a mist filter instead of fog.

Mist filter range

Fog and pyro are also one of the stylistic elements of stage shows and event locations such as discos, where it also makes sense to play with the effect. Special events such as a bridal dance can create an incredible moment with ground fog. When photographing athletes, fog makes them look even more heroic.

Dry ice fog in food photography | Image: Terobes Arts
Fog in cosplay photography | Image: Terobes Arts
Smoke flare application example in portrait

Conclusion

Fog brings a great effect to the scene / shot, which you should certainly try out once to be able to say at the end whether it makes sense for you. Many of our films are filmed with fog as a stylistic device and many events use fog to make the light show visible. So why not use it for once?

As is so often the case in photography, there is no right or wrong, only experience, and when it comes to fog, we have certainly shown you a few ways to achieve it. However, the possibility of producing fog with a small device such as the Smoke B or the Smoke Genie is exciting. Fog from a can, such as the Smoky, also offers great potential for use, especially by videographers, creating a hazy atmosphere on set.

Smoke flares, on the other hand, have aged somewhat over time and the risk of injury and the possibility of a greater penalty are more of a reason for us not to use them. Also, people on Instagram and other social media have already seen enough of the color-intensive shots with smoke flares in recent years.

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