July 17, 2015 at 3:49PM


How to shoot a foggy bathroom and mirror scene

I'm being asked to shoot this scene in a small bathroom where the both the mirror and bathroom are foggy. I'm afraid that if we just make it foggy by letting hot water keep running it will make the lenses foggy as well.
I could use a smoke machine to get the room foggy but does anyone have any ideas how to keep the mirror foggy?
I should maybe add that there is no budget for this.


I would go with the smoke machine and have a variable speed fan to control how fast the smoke clears the room.

As for the mirror, I would use something like K-Line Semi-Matte Dulling Spray, which is a waxy spray that you spray on shiny objects to dull them down. Because it's made of wax you can wipe it off when you are done. You will need to experiment to see if you can apply the dulling spray in patches, then combine this with glycerin and water to make it look like a wet foggy bathroom mirror. Another item you might want to check out is White corn-syrup that looks like water-droplets when it dries. I used to use this stuff all the time when shooting still-life photos of soft-drink and beer bottles to make them look cold and wet under fairly warm photo lights.

K-Line Dulling Sprays

Crown Lilly White Corn Syrup

July 17, 2015 at 8:24PM, Edited July 17, 8:24PM

Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer

Use Rain-X anti-fog on your lens. It's also a good idea to put some sort of protection over your camera's body to keep the moisture out.

July 25, 2015 at 12:21AM

Jay Lewis

Keep the lens hot with a blow dryer in between takes and you will be fine. Things that are hot don't fog up. Think of it like a car defroster.

P.S.- you should never put something like rain-x in your lens. It's just not a good idea-especially with no budget to replace it.

July 25, 2015 at 1:38AM


Heat the lenses up with a blow dryer between takes while the room is steaming up. All of your problems will be solved. Hot glass doesn't fog.

PS- you should never put something like rain-x on your lens. It just isn't a good idea, especially with no budget to replace it.

July 25, 2015 at 1:43AM


One simple and cheap way of keeping the mirror foggy and safe guarding your lens is using vaseline. You just use a paint roller and roll the vaseline over the mirror, it will give it a foggy/ frosted kind of look without having you worried about the lens. A smoke machine can be used to create the little smoke in the room. This would save your time, energy and money. Hope it helps.

July 25, 2015 at 3:49AM


There are some cheap products like lens warmers, they are used in night photography, the rest is setting up the scene at your convenience.

July 25, 2015 at 11:23PM


Never EVER put anything directly on a lens. Get an optical flat if you have a matte box or a threaded UV filter if you don't, and apply whatever you need to use, like vaseline, on the filter only. Much easier to clean and you don't run the risk of ruining the coatings or goop oozing into the optics.

If fogging is your only concern, I agree the hair dryer is probably your best option with no budget, but you will need to safeguard the lens and camera from the moisture somehow. But you should check the lens specs and use as little as possible. Plastic and glue can melt, metal can burn your hands etc. I'd definitely recommend testing before you're on set to make sure it will do the trick. Heating cables are used to keep eye pieces from fogging, so the theory is sound, but I haven't tried it myself. A heating pad might also be an option- has a consistent temperature and can be regulated better than a hair dryer.

There are some wipes that can be purchased for preventing viewfinder fog, but I have no idea if they are safe for lenses (I doubt it). You could possibly use them on a filter safely, which would need to be threaded to your lens to block the moisture from the optics.

If you end up using a fog machine instead of shower steam then you shouldn't have any lens fogging issues. Though I'd still recommend using a filter to protect the lens from the fog juice.

The mirror is trickier- I agree with the dulling spray idea assuming the actor isn't wiping it away. If that's the case, shower steam may be the only option.

July 26, 2015 at 12:08AM

Jen White
Director of Photography

I would recommend you put real steamed fog on the mirror (I believe if you cool the room then place a pot of recently boiled water near it, it'll fog—but I've never done this myself), but for the room fogging, either use a glass fog filter, or use the Variable Diffusion plugin (http://invisiblechainsaw.com)… the fog filter emulation presets are excellent. And with the plugin you will have much more freedom to fine tune the look than glass filtration.

For a small room without a lot of z-axis depth, fog glass filtration works very well… the big flaw with fog filters is when there's great depth in the background, since the fog would get more and more dense for areas further from the camera and this does not occur with glass filtration.

July 26, 2015 at 2:52PM, Edited July 26, 2:53PM

Jaan Shenberger
designer/animator & live-action director/DP

Here's a tip one of the leading Art Directors in Hollywood (he did a lot of Spielberg movies, for one) gave me- so enjoy and use it wisely!:

To make the mirror look foggy, attach some diffusion/opal film to it (experiment with exactly the density you need). Done.

He was paid a lot to think outside the box ;-)

July 29, 2015 at 8:34AM

Patrick Ortman
I tell stories. Sometimes for money. Sometimes, not.

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