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I have a model with long hair and we were trying to get some shots with "fanning" hair. I took the nozzle off a leaf blower and tried it at all sorts of angles and power levels and could not get the hair to lift in a mass. It would sort of lean away from the wind, but I couldn't get more than wispy strands to lift, even at velocities where the model could barely keep her eyes open.

Is there some trick to getting long hair to lift and fan out more evenly?

I have seen some shoots where this is achieved by an assistant actually lifting/tossing the model's hair into the air, and then edited out of the frame in post.

But as plenty of slow-motion videos (and just about any shampoo commercial) suggest it appears possible to get a mass of hair to lift and fan without somebody right there touching it. How?

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    \$\begingroup\$ This may sound funny but is not a joke: Ask a hairdresser. Maybe your model's hair is "heavy", and there may be a way of makin it lighter, thus easier to fly. For example, hair can be heavy because it had an anti-friz cream applied, or hair gel, or any similar thing. So a hairdresser may know to achieve the look you need for the photo but with lighter hair. Straight (as in opposed to curly) hair that has just been dried with a normal hair dryer is easier to fly. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jahaziel
    Sep 18, 2014 at 21:20

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Some ideas from others:

Several people note the significant drying effect on the subject's eyes.
A number suggest turning wind off except when actually taking photo.
A suggestion that sounded good is to add a shield in the middle of the airstream (they used a plastic plate) to create a low velocity area for the eyes.

A number of people suggest these - this one is at Amazon for $60

enter image description here

Or very similar in appearance for $80.

A good discussion here with a range of ideas.

Cheating No wind wind effect

El cheapo Wave a reflector - really! A number of people independently suggest similar (eg a sheet of 'foam-core' etc) - worth a try.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually tried a central air handler blower today, which is practically the same thing as the blower fans you show, and got good results. \$\endgroup\$
    – feetwet
    Oct 2, 2014 at 1:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note comments from some on a central eye shield to stop eyes drying in air stream. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 2, 2014 at 1:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Wasn't necessary with this high-volume, lower-velocity airstream, at least not in our current temperate weather of about 70F and above 50% RH. Also the airflow path is not as direct as you might think. It's somewhat turbulent, so it tends to wrap around surfaces. You'd need a laminar flow for an eye shield at a distance to work. Eyeglasses are the best solution when they fit the composition. \$\endgroup\$
    – feetwet
    Oct 2, 2014 at 4:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @feetwet Mention of turbulent and laminar flow triggered a somewhat fight or flight reaction :-). I've been over-immersed in such in a totally different application of late and faced with mind boggling (to me anyway :-) ) material along the path to enlightenment. ["Don't ask" for now - may get mentioned if it works out]. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 2, 2014 at 11:58
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When I did a studio photoshoot, part of what was included in the basic package was a large fan unit. I suspect that a leaf blower is giving too direct a jet of air that is mainly being attenuated by the model's face (hence unable to keep eyes open) and then little kinetic energy is transferred to her hair.

The unit at the studio was a very large fan (diameter 0.5 meter approx) with controllable speed and adjustable height and angle, which gave a very powerful and even airflow. I suggest you try a different source of "wind".

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Another possibility is to have someone hold a large card, or panel, or box side, and wave it to create air flow. The problem with many sources like leaf blowers is that the air flow is too restricted. Waving a panel gives a broader air flow, and also allows you to control the power. Well, at least until your assistant's arms give out.

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