Wednesday, February 22, 2012

DIY Smoke Photography

You have probably seen some of those cool images of swirling smoke. If you have a DSLR camera and an external flash, flash cord and some black foamcore you would be surprised how simply it can be done. A basic set up consists of

∆ Flash gun
∆ flash cord
∆ DSLR camera
∆ A black piece of foam core or black tag board roughly 18' x 24" in size
∆ A smaller piece of foamcore or tagboard roughly 8"X10" in size
∆ Incense Stick and holder(or something nonflammable to keep the house from burning down)
∆ A small to medium desk lamp

Work on a kitchen table or a large flat surface in dim light. It doesn't have to be pitch dark.
1. Set the incense stick and holder about a foot from the edge of the table
2. Prop up the large piece of foamcore two feet behind the incense stick and holder
3. One foot to the left of the incense stick set up the desk lamp and aim it at the top of the incense stick.
4. One foot to the right and at a height of about four inches above the incense stick prop up the flash on some books blocks or whatever you have to get it to that height.
5. Light the incense stick and turn on the flash and the desk lamp.
6. Prop up the smaller foamcore piece behind the flash to block light from the background.
7. Hand hold your camera and focus on the tip of the incense stick to help get prefocus.
8. Then use the desk lamp to help you focus on the smoke.
9. Check your histogram after each of your first images to check focus and exposure.

To create a white back ground I do that in post processing in Photoshop.

1. Open up the image in Photoshop. Adjustment- levels. Slide the levels slider slightly to the right to make sure the blacks are solid black.
2.Then create a hue/saturation layer and click the colorize box.
3.Use the hue slider to choose a color for the smoke
4.Bump up the saturation using the slider to about 55.(If you like it that intense)
5.Drop down and click the mask layer and change the opacity to 45 or 50%
6. Now click on the background layer.
7. Go up to Adjustments-invert.
That is all there is to it.
Go out and make some smoke1!

God bless,



Anonymous said...

Do you need me to give you some post ideas?

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Shravan K Acharya said...

which lens do you use?

Chris Hansen said...

Schravan, i use a Canon 28 - 105 lens.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering, how about using the smoke from a cigarette? But I'm not sure if the smoke would look better or just the same.