How Smoke Photography Works: The Ins and Outs
Why Take Smoke Photos?
Smoke, once an unwanted by-product of combustion, is actually a great subject for photography, even though it may not seem like it at first because the subject is constantly changing! Still, this is where the fun comes in. The challenge of capturing smoke in the shape you’re interested in using is what makes this type of photography a game of skill.
The fact that the subject is not totally under your control is what makes smoke photography such a challenging job! But at the same time, the challenges posed have only fueled my creativity and love of this type of photography. Finding subjects that fit the smoke pattern or trying to come up with a smoke pattern that matches the subject that you already have is a fascinating challenge.
The limitation to create a combination with smoke only improves the creativity of the photographer to a larger extent. You can almost call it ‘the art of seeing hidden images.’ It is the thought that will create this picture, but in a very practical sense it is simply made from the combination of two pictures.
How Do I Create Shots?
For this style of photography to work, you definitely first need a picture of the smoke. Depending on the shape and form of the smoke, you’ll want to find an object that would fit the shape and form of the smoke. Essentially, you’re looking for a shape or form from the smoke that will fit a picture of another object that you will take.
Some photographers prefer to first have an object in mind and then take their smoke shooting. But, others prefer to capture first the shape that they want from the smoke and then to find a corresponding shape in the world. Both are great approaches, so you might consider trying either method once you have the hang of smoke.
From a small box setup to a studio setup, there are so many ways to capture the object you are looking for, so you can feel free to select whatever fits your style. Once you have both your smoke and object shot, now merge these two pictures in Photoshop or some other software editing program. While this may be the most time-consuming part of the process, you’ll find it is the most rewarding!
What Else Can I Do?
After I got hooked on taking smoke shots, the one question that has been constantly running through my mind these past few months has been ‘What else can I do with smoke?’. The answer to this question is only limited by the vision and creativity of your own mind. As you focus on this creative aspect of photography, you will find that a world of ideas opens to you.
Consider carrying around a small notebook for the next week to take down the fresh ideas that will come to mind! Some enjoy imagining the entire world that they see in smoke form. Yet, others prefer to spend hours in front of smoke, allowing its form to be the story writer for their next shot.