November 1st Means Fire Sales on Fog Machines

It's that time of year again -- Halloween is almost in the books and anyone who sells those cheapo novelty fog machines will be pretty much giving them away tomorrow morning.

They only start out at about $30, were in the low $20's by today and soon will be about ten bucks. The fog juice will be cheap, too.

They don't work too great (they tend to gum up eventually) but at $10, if they smoke up good for even one shoot it is pretty hard to lose on that deal.

How to Make This Photo

Pictured above is one of about 20 decorations at the home of our next-door neighbors, Mark and Prissy. (Our block really gets into Halloween. The kids come from far and wide to check out the creepiness and gorge themselves on candy.)

The only added light for this was one small flash—a Nikon SB-800—placed at her feet. The ambient light, a sodium vapor street light, was coming from behind. The haze from the cheap Halloween fogger helped to spread and refract the light in the area around the ghoul. (Which is what makes them awesome for standard portraiture, too. Here are two examples.)

I exposed for the fogged backlight (about 1/4 second) and the flash on the ground lit our calendar ghoul from the front. The streaks were caused by zooming during the exposure. You'll get better results if you (a) zoom from wide to tele, and (b) start zooming just before you press the shutter.



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Anonymous Shelby White said...

Heading in to buy one tomorrow hopefully!

November 01, 2008 5:45 AM  
Blogger John said...

I love this shot! Unfortunately for me, with the amount of chaos going on, watching the kids and watching for cars, ...all of my shots were done with (gasp) on camera flash. =)

November 01, 2008 10:31 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

I found a simple DIY for making a 'chiller' for a standard fog machine that might be worth while to some users. A chiller cools the temperature of the fog exiting the fog machine which keeps it low to the ground. Enjoy!

November 01, 2008 10:52 AM  
Anonymous Ben Boyle said...

Of course if you don't want to buy and are feeling handy... Make your own!

November 01, 2008 1:44 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Fink, CPP said...

Just got back from Party City. Got the fog machine, fog juice and a remote for under $40! I've been looking at them forever and the Strobist blog made me just do it!

November 01, 2008 4:01 PM  
Blogger Guy Rhodes said...

If you know you're going to store a fogger for a long time without using it, run some ***distilled*** water though it, until the vapor coming out of the nozzle is clear. This will help keep the unit clean and stop the gunking up, and is also a good way to clean out problematic units.

November 02, 2008 5:01 AM  
Blogger Jon - Jon C. Haverstick | PHOTOGRAPHY said...

I picked up two of the last four fog machines at Target for $9.99 each on Saturday morning when the store opened. Fog juice was half price ($2.59), so bought a bunch. I made the mistake of buying my first fog machine a couple weeks ago at full price, not thinking about them going on sale after Halloween... Now I know. But I figure 3 should get me through until next Halloween, even if one gunks up irreparably.

Looking forward to trying it out before long. I have in mind a combination of this: and this:

November 03, 2008 1:44 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

When you're done using a fog machine for the day you should always run clean water through it as guy rhodes mentioned. We use them for training in the fire service and flush them after EVERY use and have no gumming probs.

November 03, 2008 8:26 AM  
Blogger David Horton said...

Some of my students got a chance to experiment with fog machines during a model shoot... inspired by this post.

Take a look at some of their work.

November 09, 2008 8:44 PM  
Blogger Caradoc said...

If your fogger *does* get gummed up, the distilled water trick may clean it. If not, add some pure white vinegar to the distilled water and try it again.

I had one fog machine end up so gummed (after a loan to an acquaintance...) that I ran about a pint of pure white vinegar through it before the nozzle cleared.

If that had failed, my next step would have been to remove the nozzle and soak it in CLR with a distilled water rinse before trying again.

For the DIY'er interested in a heavy-duty chiller (to make the low-lying fog) try a look here:

November 10, 2008 12:04 PM  
Anonymous After Hours DJ said...

I'm more of a fan of Haze v. Fog. Much thinner and the machines don't have a warm up time. Just plug and go. American DJ has a nice one as does Jem / Martin.

November 12, 2008 9:42 AM  

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