This is a syndicated blog post from Format magazine. A number of the Phoblographer’s staffers prefer them over others for website building.
Smoke bombs can be a great way to add a blast of color to your next photoshoot. Here are some tips on how to get the most out of your smoke bomb photography.
Smoke bomb photography has exploded in popularity lately. In fact, smoke photography has become so trendy that even wedding photographers are using smoke bombs as a way to spice up their wedding photos.
When you take a look at some of the great examples of color smoke photography on Pinterest, it’s easy to see why. Adding some colorful smoke to your shots can make for powerful portrait photography and landscape shots. The smoke can be used to create an interesting background, add atmosphere, or achieve captivating effects (when a model holds a smoke bomb while moving around, for example, the smoke trails can be used to highlight movement).
So you should think about getting in on the trend and setting up your own smoke bomb photoshoot! The eye-catching images you can create will make a great addition to your online photography portfolio.
If you’re looking for some help, check out this guide below. It will fill you in on what to look for when choosing a smoke bomb, how to use smoke bombs safely, and some of the smoke bomb photography tricks you can use to create stunning effects.
How To Find the Right Smoke Bombs
One of the main things to look for when choosing a smoke bomb for photography is a “cool-burning” designation or a line in the description that says they are safe to hold when burning. That’s because there are some smoke bombs that get too hot to handle. They are designed to be set on the ground and will burn your hand if you try to hold them. The other main considerations to keep in mind are the burn duration, ease of use, and cost.
Some smoke bombs can fire out of both ends simultaneously. These provide twice the amount of smoke, but they’re not ideal for smoke bomb photography since they only last for about half the time as a standard smoke bomb.
The Most Popular Smoke Bombs for Photography
Enola Gaye is one of the most popular and highly-rated brands. These smoke bombs were originally designed for paintball and airsoft games as a way of blocking the opposition’s visibility. But they have also become a favorite among photographers due to their high quality, ease of use, long burn duration, and the range of colors available.
These smoke bombs feature a wire-pull ignition system, which means there’s no need for a lighter. They last for about 60 to 90 seconds before burning out.
The Enola Gaye website offers some helpful info on the differences between each of its smoke bomb colors in terms of quantity of smoke, output speed, and smoke density. For instance, the company’s yellow smoke bomb is listed as having 16 percent more smoke density than its red smoke bomb.
Enola Gaye wire-pull smoke grenades usually sell for around $7 to $9 apiece, but you can often find them on sale, too.
Best Budget Smoke Bomb
For a more affordable alternative, check out these smoke sticks for photography called Smoke Fountains. You can get a pack of five colors for $22.99. They have fuses that you’ll have to ignite with a lighter, and they are safe to be used as handheld smoke bombs. They last for around 50 to 60 seconds.
Finding Other Smoke Bomb Options
Smoke bombs are sometimes referred to by different names like smoke grenades, smoke cans, or colored smoke sticks. But they all do the same thing.
If you want to shop around to find a deal, try searching for all the different variations including smoke flares for photography, smoke cans for photography, and smoke sticks for photography.
What to Do On Your Smoke Photoshoots
Getting the Most Out of Your Smoke Bombs
- Make sure you plan out your shots carefully beforehand and take some practice shots without smoke. This is important because you’ll have to work very quickly once the smoke bomb is ignited. They only last about a minute, and it takes a few seconds to build up enough smoke for a dramatic effect. So there will be a brief window where everything looks right and the smoke is where you want it.
- If shooting outside, wait for a calm day—you’ll get much better results. If there’s anything more than a very slight wind, the smoke will get blown around and dissipate much quicker.
- If you hold smoke bombs too close to clothing, they can leave a stain. So if you don’t want that purple smoke bomb to leave its mark on a model’s outfit, have them hold it away from their body.
- Ensure the shot is well-lit. If you have portrait lights or strobes, bring them along on your smoke bomb photoshoot. Having the smoke properly lit will make it really pop in the image.
- Avoid populated public areas. Large clouds of smoke tend to make people nervous, even when they’re fun colors!
- Pay attention to any local regulations on fireworks. Smoke bombs are considered a pyrotechnic so all the usual rules apply, and their use may be restricted in your area.
Smoke Photography Techniques
- Try creating a smoke cloud as your background. Have the model start by directing some smoke behind them for a few seconds before making whatever movement or pose you had in mind. This will create an interesting backdrop and can lend a feeling of mystery as the smoke blocks out most of the background and the model seems to be in their own little smoke-filled world.
- If the model is going to move the smoke bomb around to create a smoke trail, tell them to move it slowly. This will give you more distinct smoke trails and attractive plumes. The trick is catching those crucial moments before the smoke blocks the model’s face too much.
- Put the smoke bomb inside a prop. There are several examples online of photographers putting smoke bombs inside objects that a model can hold, like birdcages, lanterns, or umbrellas. It makes for some interesting smoke bomb pictures as the smoke billows out from a seemingly ordinary object.
- Outfit the model in a thematic wardrobe. Some costumes that have been used to great effect include gas masks, soldier uniforms, billowy dresses, and post-apocalyptic outfits. The right outfit can add a sense of cohesion to your smoky shots.
- Match the smoke color with elements in the scene for a powerful effect. For example, try using a pink smoke bomb at sunset, a green smoke bomb with trees in the background, or choose a shade to match a model’s clothing. Although smoke bombs are available in a range of colors, you may find it’s difficult to match the exact color closely. Luckily, it’s not difficult to match the colors in post-production. Check out this smoke bomb photo tutorial for details on how to do that in Photoshop.
- Many photographers have also found a use for smoke bombs in creative family portraits. Try suggesting some smoke bomb photography for your next family shoot.
- Another great time to deploy smoke bombs? An upcoming TFP shoot! Creating cool smoke bomb photoshoots will show other potential TFP collaborators the in-demand skill-set you have to offer.
Check out this smoke photography video for some more tips on shooting techniques and some great examples of the effects you can achieve.
Smoke Photography Safety Tips
- Smoke bombs give off sparks when they’re ignited, so be careful where you aim them when lighting. Don’t use them in areas with a lot of dry, flammable materials and use eye protection.
- Even cool-burning smoke bombs will warm up as they burn. The bottom end of the smoke bomb stays the coolest, so direct your models to grasp them near the end. Consider having the model wear gloves; although it’s not required, it can help them feel comfortable and safe.
- Smoke bombs can continue heating up after they’ve stopped emitting smoke, so have a safe place to put them once you’re done with them, like a metal bucket.
Share Your Smoke Bomb Pictures With the World
Once you start capturing some color bomb photography, don’t forget to show it off! Smoke bomb photos are the perfect choice for your online portfolio. That’s because they really stand out and can show potential clients that you have a few tricks up your sleeve. It also shows people that you understand how to plan and manage a photoshoot since you’re able to catch the perfect shot during those fleeting seconds when the smoke was just right.
If you don’t have an online photography portfolio yet, it’s time you set one up. The trick is choosing the right website-builder that will make the process easy. Choose an online portfolio that offers dynamic themes, to showcase your smoke bomb photos as beautifully as possible, and a built-in online store, which can be handy if you want to sell prints of your trendy smoke bomb photoshoots.
Now that you know what it takes, get out there add an explosion of color to your shots with smoke bomb photography!
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