Photographing Smoke

For my first post on my first blog I thought I would discuss a recent photography project: Photographing Smoke.

This was the first time I've tried to photograph something like this indoors. I set up my studio in the dark late at night and set up my wireless flash (AF-540 FGZ) to the left of the subject. The smoke was produced by a single stick of burning incense.


The problem with my set-up caused light to spill on my backdrop. I shoot with the K10D, so I don't need a hot shoe remote to trigger the flash. Instead, the wireless flash is controlled by the in-camera flash. Because the wireless flash required my in-camera flash to fire, extra light showed up in my photos (even though I had a card in front of the in-camera flash to block the subject from the light). You can see this in the example below.

After going back to the drawing board I doubled the size of my backdrop, allowing me to double the distance of the smoke from the backdrop. Then I placed the flash in a small white box to effectively direct all the light toward the subject. Again covering the in-camera flash with a card I was able to produce much better results the second time around.

I call this one Pregnant Woman:
This is one of my favorites from the shoot:
This one is a compilation of several shots:

6 comments:

Caryn | May 7, 2009 at 10:45 PM

I still cannot get over how cool these shots are! I am going to show your blog to my Custom Images students, so you may get some of them browsing around!

Henrik | May 28, 2009 at 9:50 AM

Beautiful smoke shot! Well done

Patricia | May 29, 2009 at 3:13 PM

Very cool...how did you get the variety of colors?

Derek | May 31, 2009 at 8:16 PM

Thank you. The multi-colored smoke image is a compilation of six different photos. I chose six streams I thought would look good with each other and put them together.

Anonymous | October 8, 2009 at 1:17 PM

pretty cool..how did you get the white background? Photo shop?

Derek | October 14, 2009 at 4:50 PM

Thank you. The photo was taken in the dark with a black background to prevent any light from showing. Photoshop was used to invert the colors, replacing the black with white.

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