Smoke Photography made simple

Smoke Photography made simple

Light and shape : perhaps the key elements to eye-catching photography. Light imparts contrast to the image and sometimes also creates points of interests. To achieve those, light is often associated with the shapes and curves. Solidity of the object is revealed plying light and shape. Effect of light can be created artificially, however curves and shapes needs  to be discovered. Mastery over the creation and discovery comes with repeating and perfecting the small assignments of controlled photography. In this article I am writing about one of such simple yet magical technique called Smoke Photography.

This technique has infinite scope as one can burn virtually anything to create smoke and then its combination with light effects can create infinite unbelievable smoke images. Here I am going to elaborate the basic set-up and tricks to shoot smoke. This is the list of accessories I used:

1. Gears: Nikon D7000, Nikkor 50mm f1.4 D-type lens, Nikon SB-900 flash, tripod, Remote
2. Set-up : Black background (5ft * 2 ft card sheet paper) and 2ft * 2ft cardboard flaps, rubber band, flash stand, scent stick, lighter, small torch (I used Nokia torch :-) )

1. Hang the cardsheet on the wall, flat. Switch OFF fan.
2. Arrange the camera in front of cardsheet abt 6 ft away from the wall.
3. About 1.5 ft away from the wall place the scent stick with upper tip at lower edge level of the carboard. 
4. Place flash 2 ft away from scent stick, pointing towards scent stick. It should be placed on line perpendicular to wall-scentstick-camera. 
5. Use to flaps and attached them on the side of flash. Flap are used for two purposes: Two avoid light on background and to avoid lens flares.

Camera setting:
1. Manual mode with shutter # 1/100 s and f-number # 4 to 5.6
2. Manual focusing mode
3. Remote shooting mode.
4. Built-in flash as commander with and SB-900 operated remotely. Built-in-flash does nothing when flash is fired. SB-900 alone flashes at full power. 
4. Light the scent-stick and switch off lights.

Playing with White balance in post-processing

Action time:
Smoke from scent-stick has three zones. first Zone: 4 inches from tip, next 6 inches is the second zone and third is the last zone. To get best picture, focus manually in the plane of second zone. In the second zone smoke forms different shapes which are sharp as smoke spreads enough. Aperture of 4 or 5.6 is the sufficient to have sharp pictures. Working becomes simple with prime lenses with high aperture lenses like 50mm f`1.4. Put torch on the smoke and when you think this the good pattern, press remote button. Take 100's of pictures. Best patterns will form when smoke is stable. Change to the zone 3. Here the smoke spreads and one gets combination of dispersed smoke and thus only some part of smoke is sharp

More tricks:
* Use two scent-sticks
Use different sources
* Use two flashes and use combination of color filters.
* change back-ground to white.

* Adjust white balance to impart color to the smoke.
* Reveal some interesting shapes by combination of rotating and cropping techniques.
* put some poems or quotes to make more impact.

Systematic chaos in 3rd zone

By Paresh Kale


  1. Replies
    1. You are always welcome Kcalpesh. Keep following this space for more. :)

  2. This is Lovely Paresh..I am sure to try this once I get my DSLR.. :)


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