When you are in the bottleneck period and feel that there is nothing to shoot, when you feel that your work lacks compellingness, and when you ca n’t raise your passion for shooting conventional subjects, then this is fun and not difficult. Smokey abstract photography, a creative subject matter with a high production rate!
Camera: This subject is not very “food-equipped”. Most cameras are capable, with M-stop, manual focus and wireless flash function.
Lens: You need a lens that can focus on nearby objects, preferably a macro lens. Some lenses with the shortest focusing distance, such as Canon's 50mm F1.8 fixed focus, can also be used.
Off-camera flash: During shooting, you need an off-camera flash to illuminate the smoke from the side (vertical to the lens direction). If you are looking for better shooting results, you also need to prepare a beam tube.
Incense: That's right, the kind of incense used by "Panda Burning Incense". Compared with other smoke-making objects (such as cigarettes), long incense sticks produce thinner, longer-lasting smoke and less pollution.
In addition, you also need to prepare a tripod (or other platform that can provide a fixed) to fix the camera and incense, maintain the consistency of the composition, and facilitate shooting; it is best to prepare some black cloth for the black background.
2. Site layout
When shooting this subject, you need to be absolutely windless, otherwise the smoke will drift around. You need to find a closed room that can turn off the lights, and not have smoke detectors.
Set the black background plate, insert the incense, and place it about half a meter in front of the background plate; the flash is placed on the lamp holder, perpendicular to the lens direction, and the smoke is illuminated from the side. If necessary, a piece can be placed on the opposite side Reflector.
In order to ensure that the flash light does not "run" over the background, causing the black background to become uneven and very "dirty", you need to mount a flashlight on the flash to make the light more concentrated.
The next thing you have to do is adjust the distance from the camera to the smoke. Due to the erratic smoke, it is better to stay a little farther (and more convenient to focus) when shooting, and capture as many and complete smoke patterns as possible first-anyway, you can crop later.
3. Related settings
Adjust the lens to M, manual focus mode-if you use autofocus, the erratic smoke may make the autofocus system "tired", but it will often blur.
Choose a medium-sized aperture (such as f / 8) and a very low sensitivity, turn off all light sources in the room, turn off the flash, and take a picture before lighting the incense. You will get a completely dark picture, fixing this set of shooting parameters.
Then, adjust your flash to manual mode, power to about 1/2, connect it to the camera with a power cord or wireless flash, and you are ready to start shooting.
It's best to save your photos in raw format as this will give you more room for post-processing.
4. Start shooting
Ignite the incense, and after the tip flame disappears, it will begin to continuously produce a thin stream of smoke.
You can observe whether the smoke is “sharp” enough through the zoom function of the LCD screen, and decide whether to adjust the focus or use a smaller aperture; observe the exposure, and adjust the flash output power according to the brightness of the smoke subject.
If everything looks good, you can start to blow air or gently fan the smoke column to change the shape of the smoke column. Try a few different angles and wind forces, or try adjusting the exposure time to record the dynamic trajectory of the plume.
The first is the most basic adjustment: first make sure that the background is black enough and uniform enough. If there are any highlights, you can use PS stain repair or the stamp tool \ brush tool to remove it.
Similarly, if you are a little dissatisfied with the path of the smoke (for example, you want to remove one of them to make it look more like a pattern), you can also remove it in a similar way.
Then it is to adjust the smoke itself. Its exposure, highlights / shadows and hue can be adjusted according to your preferences.
If you think such works are not cool enough, there are more "high-end" operations. Specific steps are as follows:
Open the smoke image and Ctrl + j to copy a layer.
Flips the top image horizontally / vertically.
Change the layer blending mode of the upper image to "Brighten" or "Filter" (you can also try other modes).
Repeat this process to process the original image in different ways (horizontal / vertical flip, special angle rotation, etc.).
In addition, you can also do some more fancy "private custom" for your smoke, and pursue more special effects.
For example, add a gradient layer on the top and change its blending mode to overlay or soft light; add a blank layer on the top and draw a pattern on the top with a brush, and finally lower the layer opacity and change to overlay ... ...
Believe me, you will definitely gain something and enjoy this trial process very much!
6. Other applications
In addition to creating artistic abstract pictures, similar techniques can be used for other types of photography, such as commodity still photography.
The picture below uses two flashes, one on each side of the vase, and one lit incense behind the glass bottle. In this way, the smoky smoke added dynamics and vitality to still life photos, while also creating a special atmosphere.
In some non-smoking areas, if you still need to create a smoke effect, you can create a "fake smoke".
The specific operation is simple: find some floss, polish it, tie it to a small flashlight, and let the light shine on your subject along the direction of the floss.
Next, a long exposure keeps the floss moving during this time. In this way, the dental floss will appear in a blurry smoke-like shape in the photos you take.
Although the effect is not as good as the real smoke, it is worse than nothing ~