Week 22: Smoke Art Photography | 2018 Project 52

We had a long weekend in The States and I blew through it without even trying for a smoking photo. So leave it to me, Last-Minute-Maude, to do all my research, setup and ALL THE WORK until last night after dinner. And… it didn’t go well.

The struggle bus was stopped at our house for an hour and I could do nothing by curse my camera and myself. The settings were “right” and I thought I had figured out a work around without having remote triggers for my flash. I was wrong. SO WRONG. I tried a bunch of different shit and just got pissed because none of it worked. Black screens for days. But then I remembered that if you leave the shutter open longer and a flash goes off, it still freezes the subject.

All that steam for nothing, guys. Put a fork in me. I’m done.

smoke art photography

Settings: f/5.6, 1 sec, 50mm, ISO 100
Camera and Lens: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF50mm f/1.2L USM

Now that I know what to do, this is pretty cool! I would change my set up a bit… probably use my zoom lens or move a prime closer to my backdrop (which was a piece of black poster board. And I’d experiment with the flash more. I saw that some people used a snoot on the lens and did 1/2 power – I did none of those things.

I finally got some decent shots by slowing my shutter speed down to one full second. And the firing the flash while the shutter was open. Because I didn’t have a trigger, I couldn’t get my camera (which I had on remote) and the flash to fire at the exact same time. Even though it looked like it did, it did not. Boo.

This one was my favorite. All the curls of smoke, some strong white lines, some wispy ones too, and the smoke actually photographed blue. I enhanced the image a bit – increased the contrast and whites, also played with the clarity and vibrance – but not a ton of change. I played with some of the others that I didn’t like as much, changing the color temps, but the original look of this one made me stop.

Week 23: Leading Lines
due 06.06.18

Entering a new month, let’s come back to some basics and work on our composition with one of the most simple things that can really change a photograph: LINES. Over the next couple weeks we’ll try different kinds of lines, but this week we’re starting with leading lines. If you played along last year, you’re familiar with this trick, but remember: practice makes us better photographers.

Leading lines are not only one of my favorite compositions, but really effective and easy to incorporate into your photography. They allow you to guide the viewer’s eyes through your image to the subject, but can be as simple or complicated as you want. Lines can be found, created, natural or man-made, and sometimes just moving around your subject and trying different lines can make your image stronger. Remember you are guiding the viewer’s eye, so consider where your line begins and ends, and how you frame the entire story.

I’ve linked up some resources that I’ve shared before, but can be helpful when we’re stumped.

How to Use Leading Lines for Better Compositions
Jim Zuckerman on Composition of Leading Lines
How to Use Leading Lines to Create More Powerful iPhone Photos

Last week’s photo: Spring #2018P52

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Have questions about 2018 Project 52? You can find more about it here or in the 2018P52 Flickr group description. Join us any time with any camera!