Some years ago I saw some lovely images of smoke taken by Graham Jeffrey. Several times I have tried to do the same, but with limited success. The first problem I faced was not being able to get a true black background. This was quickly fixed by blocking the spill from the light so it didn’t fall on the background.
The other problems weren’t so easy to fix at the time, and included:
- An older DSLR with not a lot of megapixels and quite a lot of noise on higher ISO settings
- Being limited in where I placed the light by the length of the PC cord used to trigger it
- A lens that, while is was high-quality and sharp, didn’t focus close enough to give me images large enough to work with.
In recent years all of these issues have been fixed. I now have a new 22 MP camera with very good low light performance, several flash units with wireless triggers so I can place the light anywhere I want and a macro lens that will focus more than close enough to do the job.
I used a myrrh incense stick (it was Christmas after all) and set the light up so that it was behind the smoke to the left of the camera. A piece of cardboard blocked the light so it didn’t fall on the background and the flash was aimed so it wasn’t directly into the camera lens. The macro lens and the 22 MP meant I had plenty of leeway to crop closely to find the most interesting shapes in the smoke.
The Photofilter adjustment in Adobe Photoshop was used to add colour.
Some links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links benefit this site.