Capturing The Smoke – Amazing Smoke Photography Tutorial


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Smoke Photography Tutorial

Smoke PHotography Pic

Exited? So are we! So let’s take a look on what all would you need to get started:

  • Camera: Obviously, the most important thing. However, you have to use a camera that offers manual control over Aperture and Shutter Speed. Control over ISO is an added plus.
  • Incense stick and holder: You must have used incense sticks in ceremonies in your home. Here’ we’ll use then as the source of producing smoke. (Please note, you can’t use  cigeratte in this experiment for obvious reasons). We would also be needing a holder to hold the sticks.
  • A Background: Background is very important. Make sure you have something black to make a dark background. A large black cloth or a big black char paper would do.
  • Tripod: A tripod is also required so that there are no accidental shakes while shooting the photograph.

Setting Up The Stage

This is another important step in capturing the photographs as this only will decide the quality of photographs that you’ll get. This is somewhat tricky and you have to follow the following steps to make it work.

  • Put up your black backgroundPlace the incense stick about 3-4ft away from the background
  • Place the flash/strobe to the right (or left) of the incense about 1-2ft away
  • If using a reflector, place it on the opposite side, facing directly at the incense stick
  • Place the camera on a tripod in front of the incense about 2-3ft away

On a full note, here is a schematic diagram on how the whole thing should be set up:

Smoke Photography Stage Demo

Photo credits

Okay. You got it right? Great! If you have set everything up, you should be looking something like this:

Smoke Photography Stage Setting

Photo Credits

The Camera Settings

After you’re done with setting up the stage, it’s time for some action. But wait, you have to do some manual settings in your camera for that. Otherwise, you’ll end up with either very weird shots or nothing at all! Here’s what you have to do in camera settings:

  • Set up a fast shutter speed – You need to have a faster shutter because smoke is faster than your reaction time. And to capture it, your camera shutter should respond quickly.
  • Small Aperture – This would allow a greater Depth of Field (DoF) in your photographs.
  • Low ISO – This setting is to make sure your photographs don’t turn out to be grainy. A low ISO means better photographs.
  • Light – You need lots of it. With a combination of fast shutter speed, small aperture and low ISO, there is not enough light to expose the shot. Therefore, the smoke will need to be lit up appropriately.

Final Words

And you’re good to go. Now you can extend your creativity and shoot some amazing smoke photographs. Feel free to play with your camera settings, the stage, the lights and the smoke. You’ll need a lot of patience and it may happen you can’t get a single satisfactory shot in almost hundred clicks. But don’t lose hope. You’ll finally get that amazing smoke image which you always dreamed of. All the best 🙂

If you have any questions or suggestions, you can drop in @rish404 or at my Blog

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  1. Jae Xavier June 17, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Very ghostly.

    Careful, nobody breath!

  2. Multyshades June 18, 2010 at 10:40 am

    great tips and techniques and great end results, thanks for share this wonderful article

  3. Hermitbiker June 19, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    …. awesome smoke effects and a great tutorial on how to accomplish these fantastic effects for yourselves !! Thanks again Ayaz !!

  4. Alison June 23, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Thanks for posting! I tried this last night 🙂

    1. Ayaz Malik June 23, 2010 at 12:01 pm

      Awesome Alison, just saw your smoke-30 i guess thts the one u tried ! looks great 🙂

  5. Alison June 23, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Thanks! I’m not sure how I posted just that picture, but this one is my favorite:

    1. Ayaz Malik June 23, 2010 at 12:40 pm

      np 🙂 yup thts even better ! keep it up

  6. Bankruptcy June 25, 2010 at 6:24 am

    This is really awesome tutorial. I am newbie as a flash designer. So it is really helpful to. I will create this kinda effect soon.Keep sharing and posting…

  7. RealVisionPhotos June 30, 2010 at 8:08 am

    Thank you for the good tips

    Greetings Ben

  8. Paul Gregory October 15, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Really cracking tutorial with great pics! This totally inspired me to have a go myself –

    1. Ayaz Malik October 15, 2010 at 3:06 pm

      Bravo Paul! u did very well 🙂

  9. Web Solutions July 26, 2011 at 3:45 am

    Really its an excellent work . It gives an inspiration for doing these kind of works.

  10. david mayne December 13, 2011 at 4:10 am

    all the info sounds great i am going to try it very soon and I wil let you know the results

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