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Smoke Photography


Smoke Photography


Hi recently I found out how to photograph smoke and change the colour, It is not as hard as you might think as long as you have a few basic items in your equipment these are listed below now I am going to type in plain English starting right from the beginning as if you don’t know anything & hopefully get you creating your own Smoke Art :-


Equipment List

1 ) Camera (must have manual controls for ISO, F8, Shutter control & manual focus)

2/3 ) Remote flash Trigger/receiver to mount off camera Flash

4 ) Off camera Flash

5) Lighter

6 ) Table lamp I got a 40 watt in mine (with card to direct light & shield Background from light pollution)

7 ) Joss stick holder

8 ) Joss Stick

9 ) Card to put on off camera flash to direct flash

10 ) Black background

11 ) card to catch ash from joss stick

Tripod not absolutely necessary you can stand the off camera flash on some books or whatever you want to use

As you can see from my setup pic. Below it’s all very technical.  In case you can't see the size of the area marked it is 3ft x 3ft.



So with your equipment setup you now need to know the camera settings, I use the following settings yours might be slightly different but these work for me:-

ISO- 100


 1/200 sec ( this should be slightly below your flash sync speed to compensate for any delay)

 I turn out my main light and push door too, this allows the lamp light to laminate the smoke, don’t stay in room too long as it does fill up with smoke so exit room after the first joss stick  and leave door open to let the smoke out.

 Editing Your Photos


I edit my photos in Photoshop CS5 so this is what I am going to take you through the process with, but you can do it in any program you want. 

We are going to edit this image from







1)      Open your photo in Photoshop

2)      Right click background layer and select Duplicate layer

3)      Click ok in the popup window to use default layer name


1)      Choose the Gradient tool, if the transparent rainbow preset is not selected click the drop down menu located just under file, Edit, Image at the top of the screen (shown below) and select transparent rainbow from the presets and click ok. (see below)














5)      Place your mouse pointer at the top of the image and holding down the left mouse button down drag your pointer to the bottom of the image and then release the mouse button.  Your image should now look like the one below.




6)      Now go back to the layer menu on the right and change the blending mode 1from Normal to Color (see below)



Your image should now look like this one.  You can repeat the above step with the gradient tool from different angles to get different effects.



Inverting Image


Once you have completed you transformation you can invert your image by selecting your background image from the layers menu (see below) Then go to Image, Adjustments Invert & your image will have a white background like the one below.  You will have color on the white background from the colourizing but this can be cleaned up by setting the default background & foreground colors (press D on your keyboard) to their default black & white and switch the white to the foreground and then select a brush alter it’s size to suit and tidy the image up.





You can further edit your image by adjusting color, contrast, tone, sharpness, hue & saturation or adjusting levels it’s your photo transform it as you wish, so happy snapping & I look forward to seeing your efforts.

If you would like a copy of this tutorial to print out please drop me a line.


4 people like this.

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Date Wed, 28/09/2011 - 08:02

Well done Trevor - great tutorial - all works extremely well.

RAW  tutorial

Processing Photos tutorial

Be what you are, say what you feel, 'cos those that mind don't matter, and those that matter don't mind.

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Date Wed, 28/09/2011 - 08:33


Nice work Trevor. Appreciate the time.

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Date Thu, 29/09/2011 - 05:33

Superb tutorial - I'm sure plenty of people will take up 'smoking' as a result of this!

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Date Fri, 30/09/2011 - 17:20

Thanks for this, easy to do and easy to follow - greatly appreciated.

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Date Thu, 06/10/2011 - 03:08

wonderful...very nice tricky Wink

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Date Thu, 13/10/2011 - 12:30

A very clear easy to follow tutorial, I will have to give this a try

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Date Sat, 05/11/2011 - 08:35

that was excellent, i had a go and it turned out realy well


thanks for taking the time to post this.


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Date Wed, 09/11/2011 - 17:56

Great tutorial,must give it a go,regards


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Date Thu, 17/11/2011 - 17:42

definatly must give this a go as i love playing with photoshop cs5 Smile


check out my gallery


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