By Raven Neubert
Start by fixing the black back drop to the wall. Place the incense stick a foot away from the back drop. Do not light it yet.
Now position the table lamp such that it points at the tip of the incense stick. It can be placed either to the left or right side (at either the 3′o clock or the 9′o clock angle) of the incense stick.
Now place the strobe on the opposite side (of the table lamp) at half a foot distance from the incense stick. Adjust the flash to 1/16th of the power and depending on the output image, you can reduce or increase it.
Now you can place the black cards on either side of the strobe so that light from the strobe does not spill out to the back drop.
Now light the incense stick and start the smoke. If possible place the entire setup in a place where you have good ventilation so that your room is not smoked out.
Switch on the table lamp.
Set your camera to manual focus and start the aperture at f8.0 and shutter speed at 1/200th of a second (below your sync speed).
Shoot in RAW format. Start clicking and get some great smoke pictures.
Gently blow the smoke to get different forms and shapes. Once you are done with this, you can let your imagination run wild by placing 2 or 3 incense sticks that in turn should produce smoke of completely different shapes.
Once you are done with shooting the smoke pictures, it is time to proceed to the post-processing part of this fun exercise.
Open the image in photoshop and make a duplicate layer. Select paintbrush and set your foreground to black and paint out the unwanted smoke in the picture.
That’s it. You have a smoke picture. If you want to color it try Hue & Saturation adjustment layer.
Also try to play with colorize option under the same adjustment layer.
If you want to make the background white, Go to Image > Adjustments > Inverse. This will make the background white.
Again like any other photography, you can always break the rules and still come up with extraordinary pictures. Play around until you are satisfied.