Smokey Abstract Photography

Abstract images involving smoke make up a large portion of modern photography these days. If you take a look at abstract images of smoke on the internet, you’ll discover that there’s no shortage of them.

Just because many people are interested in abstract photography doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it out for yourself. The unique and unusual things you can do with it are well worth taking the time. An abstract photograph using smoke will fit perfectly on anyone’s walls!

Things You’ll Need before Proceeding

  • A quiet room with open windows
  • A tripod
  • Off camera flash
  • Remote cable release
  • Some incense sticks (For the smoke)
  • A black cloth

The Quiet Room

The room needs to be quiet so you can focus. It also needs to have windows for an obvious reason. You should NEVER utilize abstract photography with smoke in an enclosed room. There will be times where you need to release the smoke from the room.

Without easy access to a window, your shots could be affected. Not only that but if you can’t easily remove the smoke, you may accidentally cause yourself to choke on it!

Make sure there’s no wind of any kind and that no one will enter the room while you’re working. Even your breath could alter the movement of smoke so how much more a strong wind, right?

Preparing the Equipment

The black cloth will be your background. Any black material will do so long as it is as non-reflective as possible. I would recommend utilizing black velvet for the best effect.

You need to set up the tripod approximately two feet from the cloth and then position the camera on top of it, facing the cloth. The distance desired will vary based on your lens. Make sure that your shot accounts for the smoke’s movement as well as showing nothing but the black background behind it. That way you will be able to find the best possible distance to work with.

Place the flash off to the side of the camera so that it flashes across the shot. You will need to adjust the power level of your flash based on each shot. Try starting at half power and adjust based on the result.

Focusing the camera on smoke is next to impossible and will just irritate you after some time. Instead, focus the lens on the point where your smoke will rise from. That way the resulting smoke should balance evenly in the picture.

Taking the Shot

Once you light the incense sticks, you’ll need to wait for a few seconds for the smoke to have a chance to rise. When you start to see some patterns in the smoke, take a few shots. Check the shots and adjust for brightness with the flash and distance from the black background.

Once you’re happy with these and you’ve determined that the black background covers the entire shot, you can blast away with as many shots as you want. You’ll need to clear out the smoke every few minutes and start again, but you should be able to take some pretty amazing shots with your optimized gear!

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