Smoke machine Tips and Tricks: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey

Smoke machine Tips and Tricks: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey


In this video, I’ll share my top tips for using a smoke machine in a small home studio! Hello I’m Gavin Hoey and you’re watching Adoramatv. Brought to you by Adorama. The camera store that’s got everything for us photographers. And in this video I’ll share my top tips for using a smoke machine in a small home studio. Along the way, we’ll take some great pictures too. Now I’ve tried all sorts of smoke machines over the years and this is my firm favorite, this is the CHAUVET Hurrican 1200! It’s a really small, light weight, smoke machine that packs a lot of punch. Great in a small studio space, but the best bit is the remote control! Whatever smoke machine you get, look for one that has a variable output. That allows me to control the amount of smoke from a tiny amount, to a huge amount, just by turning the dial, and it’s that level of control that really makes a big difference in a small studio! Now I’m going to try three different types of smoke, we’ve got CO2, light, and thick smoke fluid. Each one will have its own amount of texture, and take a different amount of time to dissipate into the atmosphere. All of them have got some of this added this is Fog Scent, and if you’re spending a day in a room full of
smoke, having a little bit of an aroma can make a big difference. Today we have tutti frutti. Just make sure you get the stuff that is actually compatible with a smoke machine! So with that in mind, let’s get our lights set, let’s get a model in, let’s get shooting. So to help me with today’s shoot. I’ve got the incredible Meg Biffin. Meg’s going to be the model, and before I fill the room with smoke I’m actually going to set the lights, and that might seem like the wrong way round, but trust me, once you’ve got a room full of smoke, you’ve got to work really fast. So the lights. I’ve got an eVOLV 200, which is the key light in a glow softbox, that’s going to light Meg, but I’ve also got a second light, another eVOLV 200, and this one is only going to light the smoke. Now the best way to light smoke is from behind. So I’m going to put this behind Meg pointing at her back like that. So let’s take a picture like this before we put any smoke in the room, and see how it looks! Okay, here we go! Smoke shows up best against a dark background, and as you can see, those pictures have a basically black background. So what we’re going to do now is, to apply a bit of smoke to the room. I’m not going to change the position of the lights. We’re merely going to add some smoke into the atmosphere, and I’m going to use the CO2 effect smoke. Now according to the description, this smoke should give a dense cloud that very quickly dissipates. You’ll find the same smoke with various names. Have a look in the description for anything that’s described as quick dispersing, or special effects smoke. So the brightness of the smoke in the background can actually be controlled, by adjusting the power of the background light. If your smokes too bright just reduce the power of that light down. If you want to change the color of the smoke just add a gel to the background light. It disappears really fast, which means you have to keep topping it up in the room. And of course that means you get through lots of the fluid the CO2 effect does what it says! It gives a bit of texture, and then very quickly dissipates. Which in a small home studio, is a really good thing. So this time we’re going to use the light smoke fluid, and that should give a different look. It should give a little bit of texture. That quickly dispersed into a a bit of a haze, rather than actual smoke, so to light the smoke this time, I’m going to do something different, such as the specular LED system here. So we’re going to use that behind Meg, here’s how it looks without the smoke. Here we go. Oh it looks perfectly fine, let’s add some smoke into the scene and see how that looks! So Meg are you ready? Sam ready? Okay here we go. This stuff is great for a small home studio. it starts with some texture, and then after a minute or two, it’s just a haze. I had to keep topping up the room with smoke a little bit. But we actually got through fairly small amounts of fluid. Once we finish the haze disappears in around about five to ten minutes. So the final smoke is going to be the thick fluid, and this should give a really textured smoke. Something that hangs in the air for a very long time. So with that in mind, there’s a few things I’m going to do. The first one is we’re going to use this slowly, build the effect up! We’re also going to make sure it starts behind Meg, because once it’s in front well, we won’t see her anymore. So let’s take a picture now with this current lighting setup. I’ve still got the eVOLV 200 lighting Meg, but behind I’ve changed out the light for a different one. Again just to mix it up, we’ve gone with the light blaster. Have a look at this. Here we go, so you can get an idea of how the light blaster is going to work, because although the room is fairly clear of smoke, there’s a little bit left in the air from the light fluid. It’s been about 10 15 minutes, so you get an idea of how quickly that dissipated. Okay, let’s start with a little bit of smoke, just behind me. The thick fluid gives really dense smoke with loads of texture, so when it gets to this stage, and the room is basically filled with smoke, it’s getting really hard for the camera to focus. Now it would be an ideal time to empty the room of smoke, but if you need to keep on shooting. Here’s a quick tip, go closer to your model, the closer you are, the less smoke there is between you and the subject, and you should be able to keep on shooting. So let’s do that, here we go! The only downside is.. it’s very hard to control because once it’s in the room it’s difficult to get rid of. In fact I only use two short bursts of smoke throughout this entire session. So there we go, we’ve got to the point really where it’s getting very hard to focus, so we’re going to call that a wrap. We’re going to clear the room of smoke, and we’ll see what pictures we’ve got. So great work Meg. Smoke can make your small home studio seem enormous, but it’s definitely something you want to do right at the end of the session. Getting the smoke out of your studio, well there’s a few ways you can do that. You can try of course, the old trusty flap it around with a reflector, but if you have a large studio fan, these are the things that are fantastic for blowing smoke out of a door or window. Now if you’ve enjoyed this video, and you want to see more, don’t forget to leave me a comment below, and of course the best thing you can do is of course… Subscribe to AdoramaTV. I’m Gavin Hoey. Thanks for watching.

77 thoughts on “Smoke machine Tips and Tricks: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey”

  1. Love your videos. Would you ever consider doing a video that shows your "Small home studio"? I would love to have a home studio. If i did, it would for sure be a "SMALL home studio". I would love to see yours in detail.

  2. I would like to see you doing some macro photography in your small home studio, preferably with a Canon MP-E 65.

  3. Brilliant as always and a beautiful model too! I bought a small smoke machine for my own " small home studio " but I've yet to try it out. I didn't realise there were different smoke types, I'll have to stock up on the various fluids 😊

  4. For the problem of focusing with a lot of smoke, wouldn't it be easier to use a manual lens, with no autofocus at all, while staying at the same distance from the subject?

  5. I really enjoyed that video. Thank you. I loved the light blaster. I know what Santa can bring me now!

  6. Gavin, thanks for that video. I wanted to have a go at using a smoke machine in our work / office studio. Was told by our landlords NO as they were unsure if smoke alarms would be affected. Any idea on this ??

  7. she's a pro , great work
    anyone knows if there are any portable smoke machines that can be used outside without being connected to an outlet ?

  8. Just hearing the sound of Gavin's voice saying "In this video…" fills me up with anticipation. This session is mind blowing as usual. Thanks Gavin for this. Appreciate it 🙂

  9. Great as always, I make my own fog fluid so much cheaper.( ask if you not know how to make it) One point is to watch out if you have Smoke Alarms…. I found out the hard way LOL..

  10. Great video Gavin with very useful tips. My home studio is also our TV/Living Room with soft furnishings, carpets and curtains. Does anyone know if these smoke machines leave a residue?

  11. Awesome video. I’ve done some smoke shoots, but not with a model yet. And I’ve been trying to figure out how to get light rays. That light blaster is exactly what I’ve been looking for.

  12. Another great tutorial and good advice on the smoke solution types. Love the way that Meg just 'turns on' the modelling – excellent work!

  13. Thanks Gavin. Love the last example. Is the Light Blaster firing on the black paper or on the model in the last set of shots?

  14. @thegavinhoey – Great video. I do have a question, the first set you indicated that CO2 was being used but it looks like she is using the Hurricane 1200 Fog Machine for all 3. I understand about the light and heavy fluids but how do you setup the Hurricane 1200 for CO2? Thanks.

  15. Great video my friend, what was the name of the (light blaster?) accessory that lights the background? This video is just what I was looking for today, many thanks I loved it.

  16. hi Gavin,
    I would like to buy a smoke machine but I'm afraid of ruining my camera and lenses !!
    What kind of smoke machine should I buy?
    In water, oil?
    I'm a little confused.

  17. Great vid as always Gavin. Looking forward to trying this tomorrow 🙂
    Your model is amazing, she really knows how to make shapes

  18. Great tutorial, as always. The model is gorgeous and looks like she have an on and off switch.. Hahaha! She knows her stuff well. Very impressed.

  19. Great video Gavin, love your work. Although I'm a bit disappointed on the way the "Light Blaster" worked on your video. I just recently purchased one and could not get the results you achieved, had to return it.

  20. Those are FOG machines! Smoke machines use smoke cakes! Don:t get confused people those machines use glycerol base! Some smoke machines use oil base liquid to make smoke, however the oil base does leave residue! Sorry GAVIN I had to correct your misinformation to the non-sfx techies, they will more than likely find it at "Party City" BTW, here on this side of the pond the fluid is labeled FOG JUICE! Just Saying!

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