The Beauty of Smoke Pictures

When you look at smoke photos you might think that it is impossible to take such shots but it’s actually not that hard. You just need to be patient because the ratio of good images to bad ones is pretty low. You will need a proper setup to photograph smoke. BEST WIRELESS TRAIL CAMERAS

This form of photography is done indoors so it is a good way to kill time when you’re stuck inside. It doesn’t only kill time, it can be pretty fulfilling at the same time. Do not let the setup scare you away because you will only need cheap household products. The only expensive equipment is your camera and flash. In this tutorial we will try to make smoke photography simple for you.

There is no correct or incorrect way of photographing smoke. In other words, there is no right or wrong way to photograph a smoke trail. I, myself, try to experiment with my smoke. As I say in most of my articles, the best thing is to grab your camera and experiment. Experimenting will give you that perfect picture, that perfect angle and that perfect lighting.

Let’s try with some simple steps

Right Equipment


  • Camera – You need a camera that allows you to take control of the shooting modes. You want to have control over the shutter speed, aperture and zoom. Most DSLR cameras allow the user to control these parameters.
  • Flash – You need an off camera flash. You can either use a wireless flash trigger or a flash cable.
  • Incense Stick – You need a source of smoke. The most commonly used item is an incense stick.
  • Background – You need a dark color background. I personally use and recommend black color.
  • Reflector – I recommend using a reflector so that the smoke trail has equal light hitting from every side.
  • Lighter – For lighting the incense stick.
  • Tripod – I use a tripod because it holds my still camera at one place. I don’t want to refocus for every shot. You can also try shooting without a tripod and experiment around.
  • Room with ventilation – You want the air to be able to exit the room. Extra smoke in the room will decrease the picture quality.
  • Patience – As mentioned above, it is one of the most important tools in this photo session.



You need to make sure that there is no light spilling on the background. Remember, our purpose is to focus on the smoke and to minimize the attention on the background. You also cannot afford any light hitting the lens as it will cause lens flares to appear in the image. Below are some techniques for the setup.


  • Pull out your background sheet and hang it in the back.
  • Place the incense stick 3-5 feet away from the back sheet.
  • Put the wireless flash 2-3 feet away from the incense stick (left or right side).
  • Place the reflector on the opposite side to that of the flash.
  • Sit your tripod and camera 2-4 feet from the incense stick facing the black background.

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