After seeing Ruth’s smoke photo in the Tuesday Challenge last week I wanted to have a go. I read about how to do it and bought some incense sticks.
I quickly learnt some lessons:
- You need loads of light. I had a 150W flashgun on full power, with a honeycomb snoot but it still wasn’t enough, due to the need to use a small aperture, fast shutter speed and low ISO.
- It’s actually really hard to make the curls of smoke look pretty
- It’s hard to focus accurately on a target that’s blurry anyway, and keeps moving.
- You need to stay relatively far zoomed out as the smoke can go any direction. Cropping the images after you’ve taken them magnifies any imperfections in focus, ISO noise, or cheap camera artefacts.
- You need a good camera. My inexpensive Fuji S9600 was quickly shown up with bad ISO noise in the low light conditions
Nonetheless, here’s some of the better shots I managed. I’ve crudely given the smoke plumes false colours to make them interesting.
I will most definitely be revisiting this idea in the future