As Photographers, the very first time we experienced the “fog” effect during a photo shoot was by accident during engagement photos with Kyle and Sam over a year ago. When we planned the session, Samantha's only request was to use smoke bombs. When the day of their session arrived, we went to Hoover Dam reservoir in Columbus, Ohio and there, found a beautiful grove of pine trees. Because it was late evening, the sun was low and creating harsh directional light and long shadows. After taking a few shots, we decided that this was the perfect spot to use the smoke bombs. We positioned Kyle and Sam in a light streak between two shadows, and then Josh lit a green smoke stick and ran around them. As the smoke moved through the air, Kyle and Sam embraced and kissed; and with a Mark iii and 35mm, I photographed the back-lit subjects, taking one shot after another. It wasn't until we looked through the image playback that we realized what we created together.
Originally we were imaging that the smoke would create clouds of color around them, but because of the sun's position on this cloudless evening, the effect was much different from we expected. In fact, because of the direct sunlight the original color of the smoke was not even recognizable (as seen in the images below).
Because of this breathtaking result, we wanted to add this effect into more of our sessions. However, because of the toxic nature of smoke, we decided against it since it really isn’t healthy for our clients.
Several months later, at a proposal shoot our friend and videographer, Daniel, pulled out an aerosol can and started spraying it in the air, filling the forest with a gorgeous environmental haze. Amazed by this ‘magic fog in a can,’ we asked Daniel about it. He explained that it’s called Atmosphere Aerosol, the brainchild of Knoxville wedding photographers Joe and Kathleen Adkins. As soon as we got home, I got online, and excitedly ordered a case of twelve cans.
We now add its rad effects in various sessions. Through trial and error, and a lot of practice, we have been able to meet a variety of looks using this unconventional product. In our review below, we give tips on using it, and five reasons why you should have a can of Atmosphere Aerosol in your camera bag too.
1. It's Long Lasting
If you’ve ever tried using smoke bombs during a photo shoot, then you know that almost as soon as you lite the wick, the smoke dissipates, really only allowing a few seconds to get the shot—you may even have to use up to twenty smoke bombs before you capture the mood that you envision. With Atmosphere Aerosol, if the air is still (not windy/breezy) the haze lingers, giving you ample time and more creative freedom to capture the mood you want to invoke. According to Adkins, if sprayed continuously, an 8 oz can empties in about 5 and half minutes and the haze will linger for around 8 hours!
When we use it, we spray for 5-15 seconds at a time, and around 5 sprays for each shoot. So according to the makers behind Atmosphere Aerosol, that’s enough to last for about six shoots.
We do not use this product daily or during every shoot, only when we feel it matches the personalities of our clients; but still, a single can has lasted longer than we ever expected. As mentioned before, we bought twelve cans over six months ago and just finished off the first one! Because of its quality and longevity, we believe that it's a great value and definitely worth every penny.
Pro Tip: Unlike smoke it’s great to use indoors. Since inside air is still, it’s a great place to practice using it. However, make sure you open a window because if near a smoke alarm the aerosol's flammable nature (similar to a can of hair spray) will certainly make it sound.
2. Unlike Smoke, It's Nontoxic to Breathe
You can feel free to use it liberally without causing your clients to pass out. Although it’s safe to breathe in during normal use, it's unwise to ingest. According to its designers, “Never aim sprayer directly toward your face. If ingested, seek medical attention.” After reading this warning, we were curious, and researched its ingredients, which include propane, butane, and mineral oil. According to Adkins on PetaPixel “Hair spray cans, aerosol shaving cream cans, and other pressurized canned products such as PAM cooking spray use propane and butane as a propellant. When Atmosphere Aerosol is sprayed, a small, non-harmful amount of gas propels the spray and quickly dissipates, leaving the mineral oil in the air.”
Because the ingredients are clear, using it will not stain wedding dresses, suits, other fabric materials or walls.
Pro Tip: Although it does not stain, when used indoors, the mineral oil in the Aerosol makes the floor slick so try to keep it contained in one room. When we used it heavily in our attic, the door was open, allowing the haze to drift down the stairs and fill most of the rooms in our house, finally settling on the floor. Some reviews say that it does not leave a mess, but we had to mop our entire home. Despite the sticky floors, we’re still super excited about the indoor image results.
3. It's Easy to Carry and Use
Unlike an expensive fog machine that requires electricity, Atmosphere Aerosol comes in a lightweight can that is smaller than a 70-200 lens, so it easily fits into most camera bags.
When the conditions are right, all you have to do is spray directly into the light.
Check out this video to see it in action:
4. It Illumines in Light Rays & Gives Extra Dimension to Your Photos
If you have ever driven down a country road shortly after dawn, then you’ve likely seen how the morning mist makes the rising sun’s rays visible. This natural occurrence is one of our favorites because the environmental conditions make the light seem tangible, as if it's touchable. Atmosphere Aerosol has given us the ability to create this mood almost anywhere—as long as direct rays of light are not obstructed by clouds, it works flawlessly.
Pro Tip: In order to get the best results outdoors, the sunrays should be low and direct, like in the morning or evening. We have found that it also works best when the beams are split-up with something like trees or barn wall slats. This allows you to see multiple rays, instead of just one solid section of light. When using the aerosol indoors, it's best when the sun is directly shining through the window—the time of day varies, as it depends on the window's location. If you see patches of “chunky” light contrasted by shadow on the floor (like seen in the video above), this is a good indicator that the conditions are right for a little fog inside.
(Notice in the video above how the slats on the staircase railing is separating the sunlight into sections? So cool.)
5. Our Clients Love the Results
The best part of using Atmosphere Aerosol is that our clients, their friends and family have loved the dynamic results of their photos.
Although scenery and special effects create gorgeous imagery, the goal of every session we shoot is to accurately document the honest connection of the couple. Using Atmosphere Aerosol may not fit every client’s personality or relationship. That’s why long before we take their photos, it’s important to find out what visually makes our clients feel alive so that we can accurately assess whether to pull out our “Fog in a Can.” For those sessions that we have decided to use it, the true beauty to us is each couple’s unique connection--the illumined sunbeams just actuate it.
You can pick up your own can of Atmophere Aerosol by clicking on the image below, be sure to use the code Eastlyn15 during check-out to get 15% off your entire order: