The Art of Smoke

20070202211513_pwood-30d-070202-7034 I came across an article today that completely changed my view of smoke photography. I’ve tried it once or twice, and came out with some pretty decent images (or at least I thought so at the time).

There are some Flickr groups that are dedicated to smoke photography, and there are some very beautiful images there.

Smoke Ring 1, by rexbogg5 on Flickr

But the work of Stoffel De Roover is just so mind-blowingly beautiful that I’ve realized I need to go back and start learning again.

He’s interviewed, giving up some of his secrets, at Digital Photography School.

Here at DPS we are always on the look out for photographic techniques that are pushing the boundaries of the medium. This week I’m excited to highlight Stoffel De Roover as he gives us a window into the amazing world of “Smoke Art Photography”.

Smoke art, in its simplest definition is art that features smoke. The smoke can be considered the subject or the medium to create something else. Some focus on its own beauty and pureness, others use it as ‘paint’ to create stunning artwork. I think my work lies somewhere in the middle: For the images in my gallery with the exception of a few, each image has the smoke of just one capture (in some cases duplicated or mirrored).

Darklord, by Beat on Flickr

If you try this, I would recommend that you select incense sticks with a fragrance that you’re going to be willing to smell for a while. Even with a well-ventilated room, the smell permeates everything.

And don’t be afraid to experiment with air patterns. Wave your hand towards the smoke and see what happens. Let the smoke pile up under a large spoon. Use a bulb blower and direct a sharp puff of air towards the middle. You’ll never know what you can get until you try.

Images like this require both skill with a camera and skill with Photoshop. But mostly they require a willingness to experiment, to learn, and to take many, many images before ending up with a work of art.