Friday, 13 January 2012

Beyond the Lens - Smoke Gets in My Eyes

Smoke or Ghost of  Dinosaur? 

Tonight, Thursday, was Stroud Camera Club night. It was one of our practical evenings where we bring our cameras and laptops and props and things and have a night of sharing, learning and trying new things. On this evening we had a lot of laptops and post processing going on, including one station doing a bit of HDR. But we also had a little mini studio set up in the kitchen where we were being shown by one club member, Mr Jay Martin,  how to photograph smoke. I'd never done this before so I mostly hung out with these guys.

Camera remotely fired flash

We tried two different ways of photographing the smoke. We used black card for the background and against the wall to help control the light. We used a radio trigger to fire an off camera flash gun. And we used a another remote to trigger the camera. We used all manual settings, including the focus. And our cameras were mounted on tripods. (Note: As we were shooting in almost complete darkness the camera's auto focus does not work.) I'm not sure what Jay's settings were on his camera as I was off running my mouth when he was setting it up, but I think it was something like this: ISO 100; F5.6; 1/125th of a second exposure. Not a bad place to start in any case. The flash gun was set to 1/16th power. For the smoke we used an incense stick stuck in a ball of blue tack.

Flash gun manually fired

The second way we photographed the smoke is the way in which I photographed all three of these images. Basically the same set up only I had my camera set up for a 2 second exposure. The flash gun in this case was fired manually, during the 2 second exposure. As we were in the dark the flash from the flashgun froze everything and correctly exposed the smoke.

I really enjoyed this and plan on giving this a another go when I get some free time. All three images on this page were taken tonight by me with a Canon 5D II with a 50mm 1.4 lens. The camera settings were as follows: ISO 100 at F9 with a 2 second exposure. In the top image the smoke has a blueish tent, I added this in post processing.

Do you see the dinosaur in the top photo? Looks like one to me. :-)

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