Skillshare Dry Ice Portraits Using Vapour for Effect


Skillshare student Hind Nassar said: “Absolutely loved everything about this class!”

Dry ice is a substance that can help us create unusual images. It is relatively safe, controllable and behaves in a manner that is very interesting.

I have used dry ice on many occasions, mostly when shooting people because that is my main interest but it can be used to enhance many different genres of photography.

In this class I will be teaching you about the use dry ice for photographic purposes.

You will learn how to handle the substance safely and how to predict the behaviour of the dry ice vapour in a photographic situation.

You will watch me using dry ice for a model shoot in the studio as well as see many images that I have taken using this substance both indoors and outdoors.

What is Dry ice? ….Dry ice is simply frozen CO2 at a very low temperature.

Why use Dry ice? ….When it changes state from a solid to a gas it gives off CO2 and water vapour. This will happen as it warms. We can accelerate the process by warming it more quickly. Adding water at room temperature or above. Hot water gives the best results.

The advantage of using dry ice vapour over smoke or fog machines is that the dry ice vapour is heavier than air so it sinks downwards and is more controllable for our photography.

You should be able to procure some dry ice (either in granular or block form ) from a supplier in your area.

Storage of dry ice is fairly critical if you don’t want it to evaporate before you get a chance to use it (which is what happened to me the first time I bought some). A foam portable cooler is generally best but it is also a great idea to use the ice as quickly as you can so you don’t lose it through evaporation. I usually purchase about 5 kilos and try to schedule my shoot within a few hours of getting it.

Safety factors?

Because of the extremely low temperature of dry ice it can burn your skin on contact so it is best not to touch it. I use a plastic scoop to distribute the ice while using it.

The gas given off during evaporation is Carbon dioxide which is what we exhale when we breathe so it is relatively safe.

Having said that, if someone breathes in the gas for an extended period it could cause headaches.

Always use it in a well ventilated area and never leave anyone alone in the room. When driving home with the dry ice keep the car well ventilated as well.

Some of the models I have used have said that their eyes can water occasionally so be sure to give them adequate breaks during your shoot.

Even though dry ice is relatively safe, I would advise you to research its use and safety in the preparation stages of your shoot.

Shooting images with dry ice will set your images apart from the usual.

By following a few basic safety measures you can have a fun time and produce images that cannot be done easily any other way.

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