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Saturday, January 08, 2011

Extracting Creative Juices with Smoke Photography

Once again, Happy New Year to all!!!

I wanted to start the year with something creative and I've come up to try and do some smoke photography to squeeze out those creative juices from all those smoke.

First of all, what is smoke photography? Well I guess it explains itself and I don't need to expound on what it is really about. It's simply taking photos of smoke and out of those smoke we try to make something out of it. (DISCLAIMER: This is my first try to do this kind of photography. A little How-To-Do-It below and I'm sure it's bound to change upon trying it again.)

Randomness - Here's a photo of just plain smoke randomness and I can't make anything out of it. IT'S my first time.


Alienate - Here's a photo which I think looks like an alien with those big black eyes that appear on the upper right corner or a skull of some sort. A little eerie but it looks cool and wonderful.


Golden Hour - Here's an edited smoke photo where I just combined a portion of a smoke photo and try to create something else of those piece of smoke photos.


So, how did I do it? Here's how:

Materials:
  • Match - to light up the incense stick or candle;
  • Incense or Candle - source of smoke. I used candle this  case;
  • Room with minimal to no wind - so the smoke won't just disappear  from the passing wind;
  • Camera - to take photos of the smoke (of course);
  • Tripod - to steady the camera as you take the photos; and
  • Flash (off-camera ideally) - to light up those smoke
Camera settings (bound to change on my next attempt for sure):
  • Narrow aperture (Large aperture value) - in my case I used f/11 and f/13. This is to get as much DOF since we can't really predict the motion of smoke;
  • Shutter speed (experimental) - I switched mine to bulb mode which means I determine how long the shutter is open. From my takes, 1 second was the value. I guess setting the shutter speed at the flash sync value will do it as well (I believe);
  • Low ISO - in my case 100 is my lowest. This is to isolate the exposure on the smoke being lit by the instantaneous burst of light from the flash and avoid noise;
  • Flash power - I dumped full power of my flash in order to illuminate those smoke particles since we're  using a narrow aperture and not taking long exposures;
Steps:
  • Set-up materials and camera as shown in the diagram below;
  • Pre-focus on the source of smoke then switch to MF (Manual Focus) so there'll be no refocusing on the next shots;
  • In my case, a little light that comes into the room helps in order to see the smoke;
  • Take photos when the candle was about a second blew-off (by my daughter);
  • Repeat, adjust, and shoot as your heart desires;

Setup:

Final notes:
  • The speedlight was snooted in order to control the direction of the light coming from it and also preventing the spread of light into the background (we want it to be black so that the illuminated smoke particles appear) and into the camera (avoinding flare as the light is somewhat towards the camera);
  • Color of the smoke was done during post processing (GIMP's Colorize function was used);
More photos/creations in here:

Smokin' Hot!