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Ideas: Smoke Photography

So smoke is actually a pretty fun thing to photograph. One because it's relatively simple if you have the right setup, and two you can do it at home when you're bored. So for our setup we're going to need a couple of things ideally:

  1. Something that will make smoke - I recommend incense, since this won't give as high a risk of setting your house on fire

  2. An off camera flash with wireless trigger

  3. Some background - usually a black background is good, either cloth or cardboard is fine

  4. Colour Gels - Not really necessary but would recommend them

Unfortunately, if you don't have a wireless flash trigger then this is pretty hard to do. You could what I said before for silhouettes, long exposure in the dark and fire the flash manually, but you'll find this is very tedious to do compared to the convenience of a wireless flash trigger. The reason you need it off camera is you can't have the flash front on to the smoke as it won't show up properly. You need to put it on the side or back of the smoking objects so that it's throwing light perpendicular to the camera's view. So once you've got the basic lighting setup, just go ahead and start shooting. Change around some colour gels to change things up. Here are some I did earlier.

Looking back at some of these, I probably should've used a smaller aperture to get the smoke a little sharper and more in focus. Oh well, something to keep in mind for next time. You can also give it a shot next time you're having a bonfire.

Hopefully this looks intriguing to you, next time you've got some time to kill give this a try.

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