Sunday, January 22, 2012

Fire Burns On With Negative Temps Outside

Last evening I went out in search of incense.  You know, the kind where you light the tip and it gives off a somewhat disgusting yet intriguing smell.  Old school, fill your house with a haze, incense.  It's surprising hard to find now a days.  It seems to have been replaced with the oil that wicks up through sticks that you place in a little glass vessel.  Anyways...

It's winter now, and with snow on the ground it's a great opportunity to go out and shoot some winter scenes.  One factor that keeps me from doing this, however, is the slight breeze wind tunnel speed winds that make a 5 degree temp feel like -20.  Not so comfortable.

To keep the creative juices flowing I decided to try something new.  Enter Smoke Photography.  Everything I have researched has you buying incense to burn.  Incense provides a steady stream of smooth squiggly smoke.  The problem is finding incense.  Most of the major retailers have opted to carry the oil and sticks as mentioned above.  I do not recommend lighting these on fire!  So being the impatient problem solving guy I am, I turned towards simple candles to light, blow out, and test my smoke patterns.

Candle Smoke Purple

The setup is simple...way simple!  You will need these things:
  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Black Sheet of anything for background
  • Flash (off camera)
  • Snoot for flash
  • Pocket Wizard or some type of flash triggering device
  • Incense (or a candle in my case)
Set the camera on the tripod and about two feet away from the smoke source.  Set the flash up with the trigger and place it at a 90 degree angle to the camera facing the smoke source.  I synced my camera on manual to 1/200 sec @ f20.  (This allows a squashed amount of light in and incredible depth of field.)  Place your black piece of poster board or material about another foot or so behind the smoke source.  Don't get it too close, you don't want the kitchen going up in smoke along with the images you're trying to create.

Light the candle, let it burn for a minute or so, blow it out and fire away!  The camera, fire away on the camera.  You'll have to experiment with the flash power, distance, etc.  But for the most part...that's it.

I took it a step further and brought the images into Photoshop, cleaned it up some, inverted, and colored it.  Nice stuff for 15 minutes worth of shooting :)

Candle Smoke Red Dancer

Candle Smoke Color Tip


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