Day 32

I’ve never done any smoke photography before, but I’ve seen some amazing photos online and wanted to learn how to create a similar effect. Unfortunately, one of the important elements of creating successful smoke photography is an external flash, which I still don’t have. I know. I need to get one. But I just can’t convince myself to drop $500 yet. What can I say? I don’t like to spend money. However, I think this may be the motivation I need to take the plunge. Until then, I need to improvise, so I did some research online looking for tutorials on how to capture smoke without any extra equipment. It took a lot of trial and error, but I finally ended up with this:

Here’s how I did it
First, I followed the instructions (setup and camera settings) of this tutorial, but I could barely make out the smoke in my images, and they certainly didn’t look like the examples shown – poop! So it was back to the drawing board. Then I found this tutorial. Instead of using the flash on your camera, you used the flash on your point-and-shoot. Brilliant. One problem, I no longer have a point-and-shoot camera. Not to worry, I used a utility light I had on hand instead. Then I created a snoot, of sorts, by leaning a piece of cardboard on either side of the utility light. This helped channel the light directly at the smoke and prevented (hopefully) the background from being washed out (back piece of cardboard) as well as any lens flair (front piece of cardboard). I set my camera to F11 with a shutter speed of 1.6 seconds. I used my timer to release the shutter so I could fiddle with a bounce card and get the smoke right. Then as soon as the shutter released, I flicked the lights on and off (about half a second or less seemed to work best). In some of the photos I held up a bounce card (opposite the utility light). I’m not sure if it actually improved the shot. I need to experiment some more. The images still aren’t remarkably clear or interesting (one of the down sides to having a delay between when the shutter releases and when I flick the lights on and off), but I’ve got a month to perfect this, or at least improve it. Stay tuned.

Here are my settings:
Aperture: F/5.6
Shutter Speed: 1.6s
Mode: Manual
ISO: 200
Focal Length: 58mm
Image Quality: RAW

Additional Equipment:
utility light
cardboard (to create snoot)
white paper (bounce card)
incense stick


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