My Smoke Photography

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by 786soul, Aug 13, 2010.

  1. 786soul

    786soul TPF Noob!

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    I recently did a small home setup shoot to try getting some good shots of an incense stick burning. I've seen it done before and really liked the results I got. See following picture:

    [​IMG]


    Now I fiddled a bit in photoshop for the tint/color but that's not the reason I was posting. I saw a little issue in the shots I took but wondered why they still occur. First, here's how I had it setup:

    1 White bulb light to provide lighting of smoke
    1 430EXii strobe to fire per shot
    1/200 shutter speed
    f/16 aperture #
    ISO 100
    AWB

    Here's the issue however; you'll see it in this image of the 100% crop of the same image.

    [​IMG]


    How would I minimize the noise that is there at the 100% crop? I really want to get one or two of these printed large or even sent to stock agencies and I KNOW that noise is a major reason why photos are denied.

    C&C greatly appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2010
  2. agerone

    agerone TPF Noob!

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    this is really strange, iso 100, are you sure?
    I just passed the crop image in photoshop, then at "filter>noise>reduce noise" use these settings:
    Strength: 10; Preserve Details: 0%; Reduce Color Noise: 0%; Sharpen Details: 0%; DON'T Remove JPEG Artifact
    Noise is gone now, image stays sharp and clean, BUT looses a bit of detail.
    I think it looks all better now!

    EDIT: Maybe under "Preserve Details: 10%" would be better here
     
  3. 786soul

    786soul TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the tip on the Noise Reduction. I've always wondered how I could get the best results and it did a pretty good job. I still do have some noise though and that's what I'm concerned with.

    I had a thought that I might not have had my lighting right which I'll have to fiddle with again nexttime I set this up. Even my background is a cheap $5 material from a local fabric store so I don't know whether that would contribute to the overall image.

    Any suggestions for getting low noise results while shooting though, rather than PP?
     
  4. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    You would minimize the noise by reshooting, and making the image in the camera at the size you want the print, stock submission.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2010
  5. 786soul

    786soul TPF Noob!

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  6. mishele

    mishele Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Less is more.........you might have to edit some out......
    [​IMG]
     
  7. oldmacman

    oldmacman TPF Noob!

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    I do this exercise with my class with pretty good results:
    - black backdrop
    - flash with snoot to 90 degrees(ish) of camera
    - use a flag between the flash and camera
    - prefocus where the smoke will go

    You almost can't avoid PP with this type of image. You want the black to be REALLY black. There's a great youtube video that shows you how the smoke can be manipulated once you have it captured. It's worth it just to see the end images.
    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iv39UmuiYNA"]Video - Smoke[/ame]
     
  8. TobascoJackson

    TobascoJackson TPF Noob!

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    I find it's very difficult to increase the contrast (or adjust the color, or really do any amount of editing at all) on smoke photos without introducing a lot of noise. So if you want colors, gel your flash and/or play with WB in-camera. Other than that, just try various angles on your flash, etc. to get good contrast in the smoke so you don't have to crank it in post.
     
  9. 786soul

    786soul TPF Noob!

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    I think I'll try the snoot/flag to see if that helps the lighting a bit.

    While I'm at it I may as well ask this also. After taking an image in RAW format and using camera raw to manipulate the blacks/exposure/different settings, can that add noise to the overall image? I know with the pre-compressed jpegs you get out of the camera you do for sure. If this is the case, maybe lighting is the issue and I should work on that more.
     
  10. oldmacman

    oldmacman TPF Noob!

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    I took the original image posted by the OP and did a black point and level adjustment, then applied a photo filter to change the smoke to green. Even with it being the low res web version, the image looks great. No noise at all in the blacks. The OP has a "not ok to edit my photos" flag, otherwise I would post it to show you.
     
  11. 786soul

    786soul TPF Noob!

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    I think I'm going to change that no edit thing. Feel free to post your version of the image. I don't mind so long as pictures don't get stolen haha :mrgreen:

    As for the editing part, I've just noticed a few posts talking about setting a black point so I'm going to look more into that part of PP. Is it part of the curves adjustments in photoshop? I've worked with levels before but didn't think of it with these smoke images.
     
  12. oldmacman

    oldmacman TPF Noob!

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    Above is your original 100% crop. Here is the same image with the black point and levels adjustment. Yes, I adjusted the black point with the BP eye dropper in the curves adjustment. To clean up the white I did a NR.
    [​IMG]

    So, to show how quickly you can edit what you have, here is the same image with a deep red photo filter applied:
    [​IMG]

    Here is an inversion of the Blue smoke:
    [​IMG]

    Here is a mirror of the blue smoke with an emerald green photo filter:
    [​IMG]
     

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