How to take great smoke photographs

admin August 12,2017



In photography, smoking photography is a perfect example of abstract photography. Smoke images are commonly used for both commercial and artistic purposes. The reason for this is simple: a beautiful smoke image will make a strong impression on the viewer, not to mention the uniqueness of it. However, finding an original photograph of this genre is not easy, because the process of capturing a smoke image requires a lot of skills and special handling. Here are tips on the basics that make a unique and interesting smoke photo.

  1. Source of smoke

Perfume/ fragrances or cigarettes/cigars are the most common sources of smoke. The smoke generated by perfume is very different from smoke from cigarettes or cigars. They have their own density, shape and “rhythm” especially perfume. Some will give a very thick and dense smoke, others will create deeply ones.

  1. Space and background


You should take the smoke image in a closed environment with limited and controlled air flows. The main task is to light up and highlight smoke on a completely black background. This black background will support the editing process and adjusting exposure. Therefore, you need to use a small light source, and artificial background should be arranged at a suitable distance.

  1. Lighting

Another important factor that needs attention is lighting. In the smoke shots, you will notice very clearly the difference in the arrangement of the light sources. You can not overexposure – initially, it may look nice, but you will have many limitations when editing, changing the color of the image (turning white into black ..). Meanwhile, using the back light will help to increase the contrast and make the picture more impressive. You should also use extra light sources, as they will be easier to control and place

  1. Exposure


When shooting the smoke, it is best to set the shutter speed to 1/100 second, as lower values will result in less customization during editing. Setting the diaphragm at its maximum (up to f: 16) will help you increase the depth of field (DOF), an extremely necessary element in this genre.

  1. ISO

If your lighting system is OK, set ISO 100 when shooting. As the above elements, this will be useful for you during the editing process.

  1. Focus

If you take the time to look at the smoke, you will see that the sharpest part is in the coils or the crossings of the smoke, so the sharpness of the image can only depend on these factors. The speed of the autofocus will help you catch the right time when the smoke is forming. When you have experience, you can also adjust the focus manually to focus on your intentions, but your eyes will be tired because you need high concentration.

  1. Check the image

Reviewing smoke shots and checking their exposure on camera screens is often difficult and inaccurate. In this case, you should use a histogram to see black tone or the smoke color.

  1. Smoke shape


In fact, the smoke can have different shapes. If you want good-looking smoke, you can use a stick covered by perfume and gently press, and you’ll find the smoke to be slightly fluttering and blurry, creating a nice smudge. If you like thicker smoke, combine two different types of sticks to match, you will get a lot of smoke.

  1. Post-production

Only during post-production, you really have the opportunity to turn ordinary smoke shots into impressive work of art. The most important thing is not afraid to experiment. To understand the smoke editing process, you can use a preset mode for the Lightroom, which makes the smoke images more impressive.

With Photoshop, you will have the opportunity to easily transform your smoke image into an exciting one. For example, if you want black smoke on a white background, just invert the color of your image (Photoshop -> Image -> Adjustments -> Invert). And if you want to color the smoke, simply create a new layer, fill the color, then use the Color Mixing. Similarly, you can also edit the brightness and contrast of the image. Shooting smoke is not easy, you will often encounter situations like light trouble or wrong focus. But the practice will help you get valuable pictures, not only in terms of art, but more importantly, to accumulate experience. The accumulation will bring success to your next photos.

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