Friday, January 18, 2008

Ssssmmokin'!

I've been meaning to try some smoke photography ever since I saw it here.

There are some great instructions at that link if you're interested. It looked like a lot of fun. I was messing around in the studio today and I realized that I had a black background already set up and I had incense and everything else I needed right at hand so I had a go at it. It's simultaneously a blast and very frustrating. The smoke does all sorts of wonderful stuff and the flash freezes the incredible shapes, but holy cow is it hard to get it in focus. It hurts to see that you captured some unbelievable shape only to find that it's not in focus. Getting the stuff in focus is very, very difficult. Click on the photos to see more detail.

These first three shots are just straight photos of smoke. The color is natural, but I goosed the saturation up some in Photoshop.

The following shots have the color "inverted"... that is, they are actually negatives of the originals. The color has been played with a little bit using the "Hue" control in Photoshop.





All in all I'd say it was a pretty successful afternoon's tinkering. I'm totally fascinated with the shapes created by air currents. I'm sure I'll do some more of these. The results are so beautiful I think they'd make good art for the walls at home.

20 comments:

Joanna said...

Wow! That's all. Just: wow!

Rick Lee said...

Yeah, that's what I said when I saw the images on the computer for the first time. Wow.

Pete said...

Whoa, Rick. These are just incredible. I like how you're always pushing yourself and you've really outdone yourself on this series.

Laura Matthews said...

beautiful.... transcendent, really. just takes your mind away. like jelly fish. (haha, it's the same feeling I get when watching jellies swirl around in water.)

The Queen B said...

Very cool! Never realized incense made that much smoke...I find the inverted images even more beautiful for some reason.

fishing guy said...

Rick: These pictures are really special. I really enjoy your work.

Wishydig said...

Man these are very impressive. I too was thinking that they would make great artwork for a wall.

Very nice.

Heidi said...

You are amazing! These are great!

Oh, and I loved the bananas from the produce photos in your last entry!

Rick Lee said...

The more I look at them, the more that 5th one just freaks me out, it looks like a ribcage or something.

kenju said...

HOLY SMOKES! Those pics are fantastic.

K T Cat said...

Linked.

Rachel said...

Those are so beautiful. I had no idea smoke looked like that!

Anna said...

Those are fantastic!

I got your blog through a friend and I am quite impressed! I am also a photographer...shooting life around me. I have just started my business with the ink still drying on my business cards.

I look forward to coming back here!

Rick Lee said...

Hi Anna... great to see a new face here. I looked at your pictures and I really liked those stadium seats! Very graphic.

Rick Lee said...

"I had no idea smoke looked like that!"

I guess I didn't either, but if you light a stick of incense and really watch it up close, you can see it making these wild shapes and patterns which go by really quickly. The beauty comes when the flash (1/2000ths of a second) freezes the shapes.

Maisyday said...

I thought the same thing about the fifth one; it really does look like a ribcage! These really are amazing!

Rick Lee said...

Mmmm... smoked ribs.

Dale said...

Did you use Longbottom Leaf for those shots? Best weed in the Southfarthing, y'know! :-)

Seriously, those are gorgeous, Rick!

horrocks_j said...

Off-the-hook cool. Bravo.

Bob Ding said...

Are you sure those beautiful pictures aren't the result of a designer rather than random chance? ;)