General Photography

Enter the mystical world of Smoke Photography

Posted by: Charlotte on Thu Jan 10, 2013 19:42
It's another rainy day and you're stuck indoors – Well, why not turn it to your advantage and try photographing the illusive graceful beauty of Smoke ?

Frustrating and fascinating it's sure to help you pass the time as you get immersed into capturing the swirly pattens as the smoke gracefully glides upwards.

Before you start you will need some form of smoke (obviously) the easiest thing to use is incense i.e. 'Joss Sticks', you will also need a black backdrop of some description, camera (of course), tripod and a flash. Oh and don't forget a holder for the Joss Stick.

If you can, set up in a fair sized well ventilated but draft free room, so that the smoke will dissipate better and will help to keep the area you are using clear of unwanted smoke. More importantly it should stop the entire room from becoming foggy if there is plenty of space for the smoke to go.

Set up your backdrop and place the incense in it's holder 3-4 feet in front. Place your flash at right angles to the incense and pop your camera on the tripod. Light your Joss stick and set your focus by focusing on the glowing part of the incense – then switch to manual focus as there is no substance to the smoke and it is continuously moving there is nothing for the auto focus to lock onto. I use a cable release to take the photos with to avoid camera shake when pressing the shutter.

You'll need to use a fast shutter speed to enable you to 'freeze' the smoke and start off at about f8 as the smoke constantly moves you may need to use a higher f stop no. to enable you to have the best chance of getting it in focus. ISO 100 or lower (no higher – smoke is grainy in appearance and you will lose definition of the smoke if you have to de-noise too much in pp).

Once you're set up take a couple of test shots to make sure the flash isn't lighting up the background and make adjustments as necessary i.e. By angling the flash slightly forward or by attaching a piece of cardboard to the flash to deflect the light away from the background – you are aiming to capture grey smoke on a dark background.

When you're happy with your set up then it's time to start playing. I'll leave the 'how to create' patterns for your own imagination to discover.

Have fun !!

The photos on this page were taken with the on-board flash as my sync cord isn't long enough to have the flash off camera. They're also not brilliant so this may be your once in a life time opportunity to be able to follow a 'tutorial' and produce much better examples than the person writing the tutorial. Wink - Go on give it a go, I know you can do better.

Don't forget to share your piccies on the forum though. Idea

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