If you've been creeping Instagram – or, more specifically, photographers on Instagram – in the last number of months, you've probably come across a photo or two involving colored smoke, AKA, smoke bomb photography.
Smoke bomb photography is typically created when colored smoke bombs are set off and a subject poses and moves with the smoke, not when smoke is edited into a photo in post (get your photoshop nonsense out of here; we're using practical effects up in this Fury Road!)
Here's everything you need to know about shooting kick-ass smoke bomb photos with your iPhone!
What will I need?
Your iPhone, a BFF, a killer location, and a smoke bomb color of your choice. The brand I like to shoot with (Enola Gaye) has red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, white, and black colored smoke.
Where can I find the smoke bombs?
These smoke bombs can be found online, at your local fireworks shop, at your local paintball shop (as hand-held colored smoke bombs like this are designed to be used during paintball matches!), or if you're daring enough, you can make them yourself:
Total side note: How cool would it be to have a smoke bomb filled with glitter?! One can only dream…
How do I pick the perfect location?
When I shoot with different models, I always give them the option to pick between three types of locations: industrial, urban, and rural.
Industrial locations involve a lot of metal, rust, and texture, and balance the harsh, clinically clean lines with the smoothness of the smoke beautifully.
Urban locations revolve more around brick, graffiti, and grit; different colors from older building facades, contrasting tones from vibrant, artful graffiti, and the mysterious, messy feeling of the city, all which contrast beautifully with the smoke.
Rural areas constitute beautiful bunches of greenery, trees, grass, open fields, water: anything that appears as raw, authentic scenes of nature.
How do I start shooting?
After you've found the perfect spot, picked out your ideal color, and grabbed your best pal to be your model, you're ready to start shooting!
Once your model is set up in the perfect location, take a couple of test shots to make sure that the lighting looks good and none of your model's features are obstructed – unless this is what you were going for, where the smoke is the main subject as opposed to the model, or like the model is 'wearing' the smoke.
After you're happy with your test shots, count down from three and pull the pin on the smoke bomb. BE SURE YOU PULL THE PIN TO THE SIDE AND NOT DIRECTLY UP! If you or your model pulls directly up, you run the risk of giving yourself burns down your arm depending on the type of smoke bomb you're shooting with.
Then simply hold down your camera's shutter button to activate burst mode and start shooting! The key with smoke bomb photos is to take as many pictures as humanly possible as the subject is always moving and you don't know what looks great until you're scrolling through them later.
BONUS: If you want, you can even add an external lens like a fisheye or wide-angle attachment to take your shots to a whole 'nother level of professional looking.
How do I start editing?
After you've scrolled through all of your photos, pick out a couple of them that really speak to you.
Then launch your favorite photo editing app, tweak your settings, add on your favorite filter, and you're good to go!
How do you #smokeshoot?
Have you ever tried shooting with colored smoke or something similar before? Are you curious in shooting with smoke bombs now?
Let us know what you think about #smokeshooting in the comments below (and be sure to tag your Instagram names so we can peep your epic smoke shoots!)
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Cella writes for iMore on social and photography. She's a true crime enthusiast, bestselling horror author, lipstick collector, buzzkill, and Sicilian. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @hellorousseau