Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jordana Wright Photography does Smoke Photography


Smoke Photography and Collage

Article: Cassius Wright     Photography: Jordana Wright 

     In our ongoing quest to innovate and offer new dynamic products and services, Jordana Wright Photography stumbled upon a very interesting method of capturing images known as Smoke Photography.  Although this idea (and method) of capturing images of rising smoke has been around basically since the beginning of modern photography, only recently has technology finally caught up with our ambitions, and allowed us to fully use the timeless and ethereal qualities of smoke.  The practice of smoke photography is almost overly simple.  It requires none of the expensive gear normally needed for any kind of advanced photographic endeavor.  There are no strobes, sync cords or expensive drops required, but use them if you want.  It is actually very simple to Macgyver yourself a smoke photography setup in just a few minutes.  All you really need are camera, clip light, black background, and incense.  Yes, incense.  We have not tried cigarettes, firewood, or any other type of flammable material, but would imagine that incense is probably the cleanest, nicest smelling, most controllable, and safest thing you could ever burn.  Once you gather your supplies, take your incense, and put it on a chair or other flat surface.  Be mindful not to set anything/ anybody on fire.  Any black smooth object will serve as a backdrop.  We used matte board for this particular set of images, and it served admirably.  Then, turn on your clip light and shine it so that the smoke will be illuminated, but so that no light shines on the black backdrop.  And that's it!  After lighting your incense, (the more thick, oily smoke, the better) try to focus manually on the smoke as it curls upward.  You may find auto focus has problems getting clear shots of something that moves and drifts within its various focusing points.  Experiment with briefly passing your fingers or another stick of incense through the base of the column of smoke.  Blow as gently as you can, from many different directions. Have fun. Play like you're finger painting as a child again.  You will be rewarded with unique and interesting shapes that dance playfully past your lens, causing you to take far more pictures than you anticipated.  You will most certainly succeed on your first try, if you just keep the light off the black.

After shooting, use Photoshop to invert your images to a negative.  This is where the creative fun with your newly created organic shapes takes true form.  Add color to the smoke and begin to experiment with layering multiple copies of the same smoke around, across, within, and through itself.  Try two or even more copies of smoke to see how they mix with each other, how they are affected by color and blur.  If at this point you find your Photoshop skill level to be too low, seek YouTube for a number of fantastic how-to videos.  Some are better than others, as with most things user submitted.   Once you have created some pleasing wisps and colored them in to your heart's delight, try flipping them, rotating them, blowing them up, and shrinking them down.  Try cropping out sections and repeating others as patterns.  You will be amazed how such randomly created objects can pattern, interact, and yet still remain distinct.  Some of them are truly beautiful, not unlike clouds on a summer afternoon, taking on shapes of familiar characters, moving and twisting across the sky, and then vanishing.  Thanks for visiting Jordana Wright Photography!

All Images Copyright 2010

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