How To Take Smoke Photos

Wrote this for a forum when they asked how i did this shot

Equipment Needed
- Background (cardboard or other item). I use black for the starkness. But try inverting as well
- Incense stick (I used dragon blood for this shot)
- Off Camera Flash (I use a 430ex with a cactus trigger)
- Cardboard
- Ball Bungie / sticky tape (to attach the card to the flash)
- Any Prop you want to make Smokey!

1) setting up the shot
- Place the background up in a area set up for your studio. Since we are working with smoke you want it to be in a area with no breeze (so no fan either L )
- Get your light set up. What we want is a narrow beam of light so none falls on the background but you don’t get any lens flair as well. So to the left or right of the shot works for me, a piece of card does the job nicely if you don’t mind a ghetto set-up.

- Also set the flash to 1/8th power as well (more power cycles and you don’t overblow the shot as well)
- Get your focus right. Do manual if possible.

2) Taking the shot.
- If you have a remote trigger and burst mode. Use it! Be prepared to take quite a few shots to get the smoke to get the look that you want. Eg the spoon shot took about 40 shots to get it the way it did.
- Underexpose by 1 stop. It’s a simple trick but it works for me. It crushes the black background so it looks nice and clean.
- Take breaks in-between shots to check your focus

3) Processing
- if you get everything right in camera then processing is easy. I normally do my work in light room, adjust the blacks and adjust white balance if needed
- don’t be afraid to remove some loose or spotty smoke! Just clone it out and be done with it.
- If the shot looks better flipped then flip it, if there’s no text or any way the people will notice it then who’s to know. Its Art do what you can with it!

4 – Think of title! (this is the hard part for me)
5 – Post Photo!

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