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Superheroine · Smoke


TPF Noob!
Apr 29, 2009
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Hi there guys,

Has been a while, but I wanted to see what you guys thought about an image, I have tried smoke photography in the past, and failed pretty hard. This time, i wasn't coming away without a decent shot.

Thank you for taking the time to let me know what you think! Also, click the image and visit me on Flickr / add me as a contact. * Superheroine | Flickr - Photo Sharing! * Look forward to seeing you guys.


Superheroine by Clawed1, on Flickr
Very nice! And great title, I can totally see what you're referring too :)
nice. how did you do this?
Very nicely done.
Perhaps consider darkening the 'leg' of the red figure so it isn't so bright as to pull the viewer's eye

Beautiful job. I know nothing about smoke photography, does not look easy.
Did you aim for the superheroine look, or is that what the smoke did naturally?
Love it! Great capture. Please tell us your set up.
that is some sharp smoke. And I love the 'neon-light' colors.
Thank you everyone for the positive response. First, I shot about 75 images of the smoke. This particular shot struck me straight away with the human form (the rest were either throw-awayable [is that a word?] or were just a cool shape but nothing noteworthy.

Here is my setup for those who have not worked with smoke before:
· For the setup, I used a black cloth background about two feet behind the subject - in this case, an incense stick.
· I used a speedlite, camera right and pointed up a bit where the smoke would be. It's important to note that I snooted the flash to prevent any light from hitting the background or going into the lens - you want that background black and no flare, obviously. The camera / incense stick / speedlite formed a right angle (so you get the picture).
· I set my camera on a tripod and shot at: ISO 100, f/7.1, 1/250th sec with a 24-70 lens (not sure where I was in that range - somewhere close to middle, I'm sure)
· Set the flash to manual at 1/2 power originally (580EXII), but I think I backed off just a bit mid-shoot.
· I actually placed a wine glass where I thought the smoke would end up (though it's a bit unpredictable in nature) and manual focused the lens for that spot.
· I put my camera on a two second timer and just took a bunch of exposures (I would recommend using a cable release, if you have one).
· When the plume of smoke would just rise straight up, I would manipulate the air by moving my hands around it, or using a spoon just over the tip.

Just have some fun with it. The rest can be done in post, but you can end up with some pretty cool photos straight from the camera with a decent crop.
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Am I correct that this was 4 separate exposures combined later?
Another note or two:

- For this image, I cleaned up all of the dust that inevitably is in the air when you shoot.
- I manipulated the image slightly, the most significant change of which was the addition of the back leg, taken from another smoke image shot the same time.
- Then, I just used layers / masks to color portions of the image. My camera was set to tungsten white balance (though in RAW), so the color straight out of camera was that blue of the figure.

Many poeple who shoot smoke regularly tend to 'invert' the image so that the background is white instead (inverting the image also helps you see some of the dust and stray smoke so it's easier to clean up).

Hope that helps!
This was 1 exposure, but I used a second image, just for the back leg of the main subject.
Beautiful job. I know nothing about smoke photography, does not look easy.<br>Did you aim for the superheroine look, or is that what the smoke did naturally?
Smoke shots are a lot of fun! It's even more fun when you get some that look like they resemble something...=)
Keep shooting!!!

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