Coloured smoke bomb test

I wanted to test a smoke bomb since I saw these video about a year ago: So when I had a chance to try it, I bought a pack of coloured smoke bombs. They get really hot when set on fire, so need to be very careful when using them. I couldn’t find a metal lantern (as in the video) in short term, so I bought a cheep wicker basket having in mind that it will be useless after the test. I also had someone to assist, water and working gloves.

At first I tried using speed light + white umbrella. I underexposed ambient light to make the model stand out. The disadvantage of this method is the time needed for the speedlight to recharge while the smoke bombs worked only for about 40 seconds (however different types are sold, I bought the cheapest because it was a test). The model was standing in one place and I didn’t think about wind direction, it resulted in the smoke being blown away quickly. Because all the light is coming from one point, the smoke looks a little bit flat.


Then I decided to shoot without the flash while model was walking slowly. We discussed direction, speed and movements. Because I wasn’t limited by the speed of recharging speedlight, I was able to take more photographs using one last smoke bomb than with the flash using 3 smoke bombs. In this case smoke wasn’t blown away and at the same time it didn’t stay in one place covering the model too much. Smoke looks lighter and more volumetric partly because the light travels from different points while leaving some smoke unlit.


I suppose that the first method can be used if all the details are accurately thought over. The second method is more simple but requires planning as well. If I will have another opportunity to test coloured smoke bombs I will probably use 2 or 3 point lighting, I’ll test what happens if one is placed behind. I’ll ask model to walk slowly till specific point where I would make some shots. It should spread smoke behind a model (as it was in the examples without the flash). I might try to lit smoke more than a model.

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