How to Conduct Smoke Art Photography

Smoke Art Photography is something that is not very common today.

If you go around different museums and art galleries, you will find that most works are of the more common genre like landscape and others. However, such type of photography is growing more popular today.

Smoke Art Photography is easy to explain as it means that the subject of your photographs is Smoke. Yes, you might say that it is fairly difficult to capture such a thing. However, it is still possible if you know how.


Image Credit: Spryguyuk

Why use smoke as the subject of your photo?

To begin with, smoke is difficult to capture but if you are sharp and alert, you will see it in its most attractive sizes and shapes.

So here are Photography Tips to remember for Smoke Art Photography:

1. Choose the Place for the Shoot.

Smoke can be acquired from different sources such as cigarettes, candles, and incenses. It is the last that creates the most visible amount of smoke.

However, it can have a very strong smell which can irritate the more sensitive individuals with you.

In this light, you should choose a place where there are not much people around. Should you need someone to help you with the shoot, then make sure that he can tolerate the conditions.

To help you with this, make sure that the room is well-ventilated.

In addition, you should also understand that the venue’s curtains and carpets may be stained because the ash from incense can cause permanent marks.


Image Credit: ArDesHIr-a

2. Prepare the Background.

Since smoke is thin and it can barely be seen as it dissipates quickly, you must prepare a black background.

And by saying black, you should make sure it is pitch black to show the contrast of the smoke and the background. Moreover, black will minimize the bouncing off of stray light.


Image Credit: jonboy56

3. Prepare your Equipment.

The equipment will make your photographs successful.

But you have to have the recommended ones so that you won’t go wrong. These would include:

A Reflector

This ads more effect as it can reflect more light on the smoke. Though not essential, you will need skills to use the reflector for smoke art photography.


Smoke is quite difficult to shoot so you need to use a DSLR instead of a point-and-shoot camera. The DSLR camera will allow you to manually control the shutter speed and aperture, as well change the lens to achieve the best effects.

A Tripod

This is not a necessity but it is still recommended so that you can take steady photographs.

Off-Camera Flash

This is necessary to illuminate the smoke when necessary.

4. Arrange the Room or Venue.

Make sure that your black background is away from all sources of light.

Remember that it is there to make the smoke more visible.

Then, the incense should be put on a stand some 3-4 feet from the background and the off-camera flash should be 1-2 feet away from the incense.


Image Credit: jonboy56

5. Set your Camera

You don’t need any extra tricks for smoke art photography. The camera is enough.

You simply need to put it at the right setting to achieve the effect that you want.

For one, your Shutter Speed should be quick.

Another thing is that your ISO should be lower. The higher the ISO, the grainier your photograph will be.

Choose a smaller Aperture.

You need more light because of the above settings. That is the point of having an off-camera flash.


Image Credit: aaron-r-photography

6. Light the Incense.

At this point, you are now ready to snap some shots. It would help if you try to get a few shots first and then check if you have achieved the right settings.

Keep doing this until you are able to get the best shots.


Image Credit: Matus201

This type of photography is among the more delicate types for the simple reason that smoke easily dissipates.

However, it is also the kind that gives you more freedom to experiment. There are no straight rules to Smoke Art Photography so you can feel free to try and incorporate your style.

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