My previous post (available here) detailed some of my process for taking photographs of smoke. Today I thought I’d give a few more examples.
This shot titled Smokin’ Sax has been rotated just past 180 degrees. When I saw the lined up spirals of smoke I immediately thought of a saxophone and attempted to line up the smoke to appear as one. As I said earlier, the color is added in processing, so I chose a gold color to further enhance the similarity to a sax.
On this one, I held a cup over the smoke stream for about 10 seconds then quickly removed the cup and took the picture. This created the curls at the top. In processing I then inverted the image to create the white background and added the rose color.
This picture of a smoking gun barrel was created by holding an unloaded (and magazine removed) Glock handgun over the incense stick and letting the smoke drift upward. The smoke worked its way through the gun and out of the barrel. I chose to leave the smoke its natural color of grayish white.
On this one, I allowed the smoke stream to calm down to just a single column and then gently placed a spoon over it. The smoke then accumulated under the spoon briefly before coming out around the edges.
Similar to the above shot, I placed the fork into the stream and allowed the utensil to disrupt the smokes flow. This one was also inverted to create the white background.
Here’s the same shot as above, but without the invert.
And lastly, this shot was rotated 90 degrees clockwise to enhance the presentation. With the invert and the rotation, I felt it looked like silk blowing in the wind.
There you have it, my first few attempts at smoke shots. I used simple incense sticks that I purchased for under $5.00. For a background I used a black sheet and then placed my light source (a Canon 430EX strobe) at about an 80 degree angle. Feel free to comment with any questions or comments.
UPDATE: I’ve posted more smoke shots on my follow-up post.
This past week, one of the readers of my blog (and frequent commenter) Genevieve from the Prairie Bluestem blog emailed me a link to an article about photographing smoke. The article was quite interesting so I decided to give it a try.
The first hurdle I had to overcome was finding incense sticks in Sandy Utah. After visiting several businesses suggested by my wife Michelle, I found some on clearance at Pier 1 Imports. Incense in hand it was time to start shooting.
To create the images I used an off camera flash positioned at a 90 degree angle to the camera and shot against a black background. I placed the incense on a stool and let the smoke drift upward into the shot. I then did various things to disrupt the air and create the patterns. Capturing the smoke required a bit of experimenting with exposure. I ended up shooting stopped down to f/22 with a shutter speed of 1/250 (the fasted my 30D can shoot and still synch the flash). I had the camera on a tripod and used a remote release to trigger the shots. Since this procedure involved the use of more than two hands, I enlisted the help of my frequents assistants Missy and Sarah (my daughters).
The only manipulation I did in Photoshop was to adjust the colour and a bit of cloning to clean up the edges. This particular shot was also inverted, causing the background to become white.
I’ve got several old cameras sitting around my office. Most have some family history attached to them in one way or another.
This capture is of one of the cameras, a Kodak Brownie Flash Six-20. My father received this as a graduation gift in 1950 from his grandparents. As a child, I was allowed to use this camera and I shot many rolls of film through it. It’s one of the first cameras that I remember using. Given the primitive camera and my inexperience, the resulting images were hideous. But y’know, I sure wish I had those photos today.
While I was cleaning up some stuff today I came across a video I made a couple of years ago for a talk I gave at church. It doesn’t have anything to do with my photography, but I thought I’d share it anyway.
The video was shot at a local skate park to get the skaters’ opinions on life after death. The theme of the talk I gave was The Simplicity of Salvation and this was used as an introduction. Click below to view it.
We’re stepping back in time a bit today.
I made this capture of my son in the spring of 1989 as part of a portrait project in college. I have long since lost the negative of this special shot, so this is a scan of a print (partially explaining the tight crop of his foot). While I really enjoy the freedom I have with my digital camera equipment today, I occasionally miss the time spent in the darkroom working on shots such as this.
By the way, this little fellow is now a sophomore at Texas A&M University. Time sure flies.