Friday, May 30, 2008

Smoke Photography

I mentioned earlier that I might try to follow this smoke photography tutorial, and with the absence of anything better to do, and rain outside, I actually did just that.

Usually when I try to do anything with off-camera lighting it's enjoyable, but often incredibly frustrating. Trying to take self-portraits for example, can drive you slightly round the bend - trying to get the lights, exposure and focus right is difficult and a little bit annoying. It's the same with water drops. Focus and timing are a pain.

However, doing this smoke photography has been one of the easiest and most enjoyable and rewarding half-hours in quite some time. Everything actually worked straight away, and I got results that look somewhat like those in the tutorial. Although I didn't have any of the required equipment, I was easily able to find random stuff around the house to fill in. Anyway, here are a couple of my favourite shots. At the end I have posted a couple of pictures of the set-up. I would explain further how I did everything, but the tutorial above does a much better job than I could.

smoke (6 of 6)

smoke (5 of 6)

These two have been altered somewhat: I inverted the colours in the GIMP and messed around with the colour balance a bit. The rest are pretty much out of the camera with some curves adjustments made.

smoke (4 of 6)

smoke (2 of 6)

smoke (1 of 6)

smoke (3 of 6)

Here is the setup. I used a black t-shirt hung over a chair, a cardboard box snoot, a black page of a calendar as a reflector, and yes, that is a tin of sardines holding up the incense. The second photo is a wide-angle shot with the flash firing, to give an idea of what it does. Notice in particular how the snoot stops any light from reaching the black t-shirt in the background.

setup (2 of 2)

setup (1 of 2)

All in all, that was extremely satisfying. I highly recommend giving it a go, you probably won't have to buy any new equipment and you won't have to leave your house!