How To Do Smoke Bomb Photography

Smoke bomb photography is the latest trend in the world of photography.

Within this blog post, we will share all of our secrets on how to do smoke bomb photography so that your pictures are perfect every time.

It’s an exciting new way to capture your memories and tell a story with just one photo. 

However, it would help if you practiced before you could nail down this technique. The good news is that we have created this guide for you. 

How To Do Smoke Bomb Photography: Everything You Need To Know

Start by setting up your subject and smoke bombs. You can set your subject on a stool or chair and place one smoke bomb in front of them and another behind. 

Place the color smoke bombs randomly around your model’s feet, especially between their legs if they’re wearing something like shorts or a skirt.

Equipment Needed

The essential startup equipment you will need include:

  • One or more smoke bombs
  • Lighting – makes your smoke stand out with bold colors.
  • A lighter-If you’re using a smoke bomb that doesn’t self-ignite.
  • Tripod – to ensure your camera is level as you walkabout. If you’re hand-holding the camera, an assistant can assist you in directing the smoke.
  • Fan – used for blowing the smoke into place.
  • Water
  • A metallic bucket

Techniques for Shooting Photos with Smoke Bombs 

We’ve got smoke bomb set-ups that will give you some inspiration when photographing smoke bombs. 

Setting Up

The first is a smoke bomb portrait in front of a wall with light trails behind the subject, creating an ethereal effect.

For this smoke bomb portrait idea, you’ll need smoke bomb smoke, smoke machine smoke, and light trails.

To create the smoke bomb portrait in front of a wall with light trails behind, place your subject against a plain background (preferably white), like a wall or sheet. 

Ensure no creases or wrinkles are present in the backdrop because these can show up in your smoke bomb smoke portrait.

Set up your smoke machine to blow smoke forward towards the wall, about six feet away from the smoke machine.

Make sure you are standing on the other side of this smoke machine, against a backdrop like a sheet or a wall, because the smoke will disperse in all directions, not just forward.

Light two smoke bombs at once and place them on a flat, sturdy surface far away from the smoke machines, walls, and other objects that could catch fire. 

Light the smoke bombs with a long-burning fuse like those used in Crackle Smoke Bombs or Fast Flash Bangs.

You’ll want to use as little smoke as possible for this smoke bomb portrait idea because we’re trying to see smoke trails in the smoke.

Make sure the smoke is blowing away from your subject, and with smoke machine smoke, it will be hard to tell smoke bombs are even lit.

We’ll take several photos of this smoke bomb portrait idea using different settings with smoke machine smoke dissipating behind our subject, which will create light trails in the smoke.

Finally, we’ll use Photoshop to add a Filter > Render > Fibers effect to give the light trails more definition and contrast.

Play With Colors

The second smoke bomb photography idea involves photographing a subject through several different colored smoke bombs. 

To create this photograph, you need smoke bombs in varying colors and one or more flashes or strobes with adjustable power settings (optional).

The next step is to adjust the power on your flashes or strobes to the appropriate level for your scene.

Aperture is also a factor in this type of photography, but it will depend on what you’re photographing and how much light you need.

Start taking photos using the smoke bombs in front of the subject with different colored backgrounds behind them, such as white, black, grey, and orange.

If you notice your subject is blending in with the color of the smoke bombs too much, choose a shade that contrasts nicely with their skin tone or clothing for a better effect. 

For example, red and blue work well for Caucasian subjects, and pink and green will contrast nicely against darker skin tones.

You’ll find colored backgrounds for this smoke bomb photography idea by opening your shutter speed to a low number, such as 1/8 to 1/4 of a second. 

On one hand, have your camera and on the other, have a black card that you can quickly move in front of the lens to create different colored backgrounds. 

You may also use a colored gel over the flash. After you’ve shot a couple of photos, your smoke will have dissipated, and the background will no longer be as visible.

With only one flash, you’ll need to keep shooting as the smoke bombs fade.

Photoshop Skills

This is where Photoshop comes in handy for this type of photography because it’s easy to remove all traces of the colored backgrounds from your images.

  1. Open a photo in Photoshop and choose Select > Color Range. Make sure the “Selection” box is checked. 
  2. Use the [ ] eyedropper to select a background color from your images with colored smoke bombs.
  3. Click OK, and Photoshop will fill that selection with the chosen color.
  4. In another photo, choose Select > Inverse or copy and paste your image into a new layer, Cmd/Ctrl + J. 
  • This will fill the foreground (subject) with one of the background colors you picked from your first image. 

Repeat this step for each photo and then merge all the layers into a new Photoshop document.

What is Smoke Bomb Photography Used For?

This type of photography is usually done as a compositing job or for special effects in movies and television.

You can also use them to create new backgrounds, such as clouds or stormy skies, where the subject isn’t standing.

It’s fun and easy if you’re not heavy into Photoshop and want some variations on portrait photography ideas.

Additional Notes: 

1) You can also use this idea for white or black smoke bombs, which will leave a similar vapor trail in your images. 

I recommend shooting with a tripod and remote to get the best results. Use an aperture between f4 and f8 and adjust your ISO settings until you have enough light to expose your image correctly.

2) If your subject is wearing white, be sure to use a dark board or background color because it will blend in with the smoke behind them.

It also won’t work if you’re using only one flash because the shadows created by colored smoke bombs are too harsh for most subjects. 

You can try adding layers of thin tissue paper or tracing paper to soften the light in front of your flash.

3) In some of my photos, I use smoke bombs purchased from a party supply store and fill them with dry ice for a quick production session. 

You can get 100 grams inside these small tubes for less than $2, and they won’t leak if you tape off the holes properly.

4) You can make your smoke bombs out of old light bulbs or metal cans, but be aware that dry ice will not only fuel the reaction but also produce chunks of ice to put into your bomb.

They can melt and leave water behind that you don’t want in your container.

5) To prevent the remaining smoke inside your bomb from leaking out, use black gaffer tape to seal the top and bottom with lots of extra material. 

You can also make a few holes in the top with an ice pick or nail so that excess gas will escape during the reaction.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it Legal to Use Smoke Bombs?

It’s not against the law to buy, use, or pull the pin on one once you’re over 18.

Using them on your property or obtaining permission are both options. If you agitate or terrify people, you are most certainly violating a law.

Which is The Most Smoke Bomb Used by Photographers?

Enola Gaye is the most popular smoke grenade for making smoke bomb photographs.

They’re ideal for smoke bomb photography since they ‘burn cool,’ allowing you to hold them in your hands.

Can Smoke Bombs Stain My Clothes?

Yes, they can stain clothes if you are holding them too close to you. And if you’re not careful, the sparks may also burn.

After setting the smoke bombs, ensure you stand two to three feet away from the setting. 

How Long Can a Smoke Bomb Last?

A smoke bomb can last for about 60 seconds. Therefore, we recommend being ready to take your photos moments before they wear out.

Final Thoughts

Smoke bomb photography can be a lot of fun and perfect for any special occasion.

If you want to capture some memories, we recommend trying these techniques, so your pictures tell a story and look unique in every way possible.

It becomes easy once you know how to do smoke bomb photography, so you don’t have to worry about taking the perfect shot.