Smoke art photography will take some practice and patience to conquer, but it is certainly a great way to produce artistic and interesting photos. In order to capture smoke with your camera, a dark environment and a plain black background are needed. The most common and easiest smoke producing props used are incense sticks. Incense is long-lasting and allows plenty of time for camera adjustments and for composing shots. A flashgun or specifically directed light is necessary to illuminate the smoke, as it is extremely important to only light up the smoke and not the background.
The camera needs to be on manual mode, with a low ISO setting. Generally, the shutter speed should be set at 1/250 seconds and aperture around F13. However, adjustments will probably need to be made until you acquire the correct exposure. To avoid camera shake, it’s best to use a tripod and the self-timer function or a remote controlled shutter release.
Once you get your shots, you can spice them up in Photoshop. Other than regular clean-up, you can invert the background, add color layers to the smoke and mirror or duplicate the smoke for a symmetrical, figured look.
I came across smoke art photography while researching creative techniques for my last post. I think the possibilities are endless when creating art out of mostly unpredictable smoke, although, there are ways to control and manipulate it to your satisfaction. I find this type of photography very interesting, refreshingly creative and it’s definitely another way of thinking outside the box. I never cared much for being inside boxes.