Another studio shoot for today, this time photographs of smoke.
This is the first time I’ve done it, so here’s a few pointers I’ve found out by trial and error.
First on background, use a black one. It contrasts better with the smoke and keeps visual clutter out. Also make sure it is non-reflective (this would be the error part – and a pain to correct in photoshop). Having a bunch of sparkly crap on a black scarf behind smoke just looks ridiculous, as seen here. Plus, distracting!
Fast shutter speed is a must as well. This is particularly true if you’re trying to catch action when the smoke changes, which it does and does often. So use lots of light and a flashgun as needed. I seem to have gotten best results with the overhead light off and a flashgun.
Third, regarding stability. I did use a tripod, but I’m not convinced it is either strictly necessary or desirable. On the one hand, it does allow stability, which is particularly nice given that it can be hard to focus on smoke … autofocus seems unable to do this well, though that would have been my lens as well since I was using a macro that I know is prone to hunting. But given how dynamic smoke is as a subject, I think next time I will shoot “untethered” and see whether it impacts the results.
And subject matter: I just used 2 sticks of incense. Above all, BE SAFE – you will be using smoke, and at the risk of a cliche, where there’s smoke there’s fire. And fire, if it becomes a problem, is nobody’s friend.