How to turn smoke into low lying fog for your next spooky photo shoot

Aug 29, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

How to turn smoke into low lying fog for your next spooky photo shoot

Aug 29, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Low lying fog can be fantastic for those creepy photo shoots, especially out on location. Or, perhaps you’re trying to recreate the look of a particular 80s pop music TV show. Whatever your reason, low lying fog often works much better than a more elevated smoke-filled atmosphere choking your subject.

In this video from Jay P Morgan for The Slanted Lens, we see how to make a smoke machine produce low lying fog. And all you need is a cooler and a big block of ice.

YouTube video

The basic principle is quite simple. The smoke machine blows smoke into a hole on one side of the box. It gets cooled by the chilled air inside, thus becoming heavier than the warmer outside air. When it escapes from the exit hole on the other side of the cooler, it stays low to the ground.

For best results, dry ice would work better than regular ice as dry ice is much cooler, so the fog stays colder for slightly longer. If you’re using regular ice, as the smoke is light, you want the smoke to flow over the top of the ice. If you’re using dry ice, as CO2 is heavier than air, you want the smoke to flow below it.

Using this method, you can put low lying fog pretty much anywhere. In a studio, the creepy forest, or even on top of a swimming pool.

One tip, though. If you don’t want your room filling with smoke, make sure to tape up the lid before you fire up the smoke machine.

Jay uses the Rosco Mini-V and for outdoor situations recommends the standard Rosco Fog Fluid. For indoor use, he suggests the Rosco Stage & Studio Fog Fluid.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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One response to “How to turn smoke into low lying fog for your next spooky photo shoot”

  1. Stefan Kohler Avatar
    Stefan Kohler

    It’s funny there is dry ice mentioned – because dry ice does work way better then smoke Maschine fog.
    Problem with chilled fog: it gets warm quite fast and then it’s coming up again ?