A dark room (or it helps to have a dark background)
Camera settings for both shots:
Camera Canon EOS 50D
Focal Length 55 mm
ISO Speed 200
Due to the popularity of my Water Droplet tutorial, I thought I might show you how I shoot smoke. Again, this is a tutorial using a DSLR with no additional flash.
Step 1. Have a dark room, or dark background set up. The reason for this is you want the photo to come blacked out with just the smoke highlighted. If you are shooting against a background, be sure to have the camera at least 4ft away so that the flash does not capture the background.
Step 2. Hold the incense stick in front of the camera about 8-10 inches and focus on the tip. It helps if you use a tripod for the camera. Remember the approximate distance the stick is from the lens so you can come back to it.
Step 3. Light your incense stick and then blow it out. It actually helps to let it burn for about 15 seconds to produce the best smoke. Hold the stick at about the distance you originally focused on.
Step 4. Turn the lights off or shoot against your dark backround. Wave the stick around gently to generate different shapes. Blowing softly creates some neat effects. Now shoot!
Step 5 (Optional). Processing! This is completely up to you. For the first photo I only adjusted curves and added gradient. The second photo I adjusted curves, inverted, and then I added a gradient. Both were processed using Gimp.
Note: If you wanted to get a white background instead of black, you would need to play with "levels" and "curves" during processing. You can also use a white background to further assist. It is a bit more advanced to get a white background looking good. So for the purposes of this simple tutorial, I taught you the easier black background way!
Other tutorials that may be of interest which require no extra gear | Ultra Easy Freelensing | Action |