Photographing Smoke & Vanilla Overload

Photographing smoke, a shotgun cartridge and compositing together in Photoshop
Photographing smoke, a shotgun cartridge and compositing together in Photoshop

Smoke is one of those subjects that is just so intriguing, its pretty much always abstract and always unpredictable.  You really never quite know what you're going to get....  that's part of the fun right?  What always amazes me when photographing smoke is that when you click the shutter, you freeze a brief moment, a fleeting shape and form that, the human eye would never normally see, it's kind of like liquid in that respect.

Add that to the fact that photographing smoke really isn't that hard and doesn't require much equipment and you've got yourself a sure-fire way to while away many a rainy day.  And it was on just such a rainy day (we have one or two of those in Northern Ireland!) that I shot the image at the top of this post.

It's actually two images of course, composited together.  The cartridge was shot first (pun very much intended) glued to the top of a light stand against a white background, it was later cut out and the reflection added in post.  The smoke was simply side light, against a black backdrop, inverted and colorized in Photoshop, then the two images were arranged on a new canvas and hey presto!  Red Smoke streaming from a red shotgun cartridge.

It was a fun little project and I'd recommend experimenting with photographing smoke to anyone, it's has such an abstract and elusive nature that the possibilities really are limitless.  One piece of advice......  The smoke came from several incense sticks, for reasons that I don't fully understand (49p for forty!!!!) I bought vanilla fragranced ones.  I don't really like vanilla.  The scent was..... well lets just say it was prominent!  In fact it clung to me to such an extent afterwards that I feared some form of particle fusion with my nostril hair had taken place.

Fortunately I am relieved to say that I have made a full recovery and am now vanilla free, however be warned!  Pick a fragrance that's either very mild, or that you really, really like :)

Have fun! Darren