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Photographing smoke can be simple, easy and funny. When trying to catch moving smoke is all about your patience and creative mind. Follow these few steps for eye-catching shots and you can make photos at home without expensive gear.
1. Choosing Your Simple Gear
The main idea is that every beginner wants their photographs looks amazing and professional made. However professional items, such as external flashes or studio lightning are very expensive.
So there is always another way to make photos you want, just finding some as-a-pro-tricks. I promised to be simple so it will be. All you need are 5-6 things that you can find at home or buy them for under 30$. Here they are:
- A camera with a manual mode “M” to take control over all settings as aperture, shutter speed an ISO
- A tripod is essential, even if your shutter speed isn’t slow. It helps you keep your hands free to experiment with the smoke.
- Two sources of light. You can use reading lamps (I prefer one garden lamp and one reading lamp, because the light is stronger). You should choose a source light as strong as you can because you need a low ISO and fast shutter speed.
- The most important thing is a source of smoke. I recommend incense sticks because of their dense smoke. Flavor of your choice.
- Black background. I use paper, but even a black T-shirt works for you.
- Two old shoes-boxes, two pieces of cardboard and tape. I use boxes of wineglasses
- A little patience and imagination are essential!
At the beginning of shooting you may think that you really can’t cope with this, and you’ll need some practice to capture the constantly changing smoke. Don’t give up on the first photo.
2. Get Camera Settings for Great Results
First you should turn camera to “M”- manual mode to be sure that you have full control over the settings. Keep in mind some essential tips to take images you want as a result :
- Keep ISO values low (100-200) to avoid grainy photos at the end. They may look ideal on the LCD screen of the camera, but seeing them on the computer may be a complete disappointment.
- Your shutter speed should be fast enough to freeze the motion of smoke. I recommend 1/200 and up. But you need a lot of light for that, so feel free to try what suits you best.
- An extra trick for shutter speed is to shoot in a small room (even bathroom is ok) and make sure that all doors and windows are closed. So that you prevent hassle of air and the room will get warmer. The result is almost still smoke. It’s all about physics!
- The aperture should be small (f/8 or higher) because you don’t need a shallow depth of field.
- Another trick of mine is to set your white balance to the lamp symbol, tungsten, to avoid a yellow cast in the shots. However you may want to achieve some interesting results by experimenting with White Balance.
As mentioned before, none of this is too difficult. Now, how to setup all these things to catch the moment.
Shoot it !
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