Shooting Challenge: 11 Smoky Shots

Shooting Challenge: 11 Smoky Shots

There’s no more perfect time of the year than winter for opportunistic shots of smoke, steam, fog and vapours. Eleven Giz readers participated in this week’s shooting challenge, and here are the steamy results.

Click on the photo to see a larger version.


Sam Dussin

this photo is of smoke from a simple tea light candle.. i had the most improvised studio set up on the floor of my living room involving a bucket, a desk lamp, some black cardboard and a black cardigan. There were a lot of fails earlier on in the piece with too much ambient lighting around, but as it got darker in the afternoon i had more and more success and am really happy with the results.

i touched up this picture in photo shop minimally – adjusted the hue slightly and also edited out the wispy bits of smoke i didn’t want hanging around.

taken using Canon 550D, 214mm, f7.1, 1/5 ISO 2500.


Amanda Deane

Inspired by my morning cup of tea, i decided i would try to capture the steam coming off boiling water for the challenge, I added some red food colouring to make it a bit more interesting. I love the way that the smoke curls and weaves, i had heaps of fun taking this photo. I set this photo up using a black backdrop and my camera mounted on a tripod. Shot using my Nikon D3100, f5.6, 1/15 sec, ISO 1600, focal length 55mm.


James McArthur

I have just returned from a week spent there with family, no phone signal, no electricity, no internet.

This photo of the smoke from the fire highlighting the rays of the setting sun at the Grampians National Park.
This photo was taken with my iPhone near the end of our week…no signal but with only around 13% battery life remaining.
The fire not seen in the photo was keeping us warm in temperatures close to 5 degrees during the middle of the day whilst we passed the time with some Bocce.
I believe the HDR setting was on at the time but I can not be certain.


Oliver Herbu

I was spending a lovely 2 week holiday in Bali, Indonesia. Reading gizmodo from a terrible tethered 3G mobile connection to my iPad. I shot this on the a main shopping strip in Kuta. This Chinese cafe had water mist/vapour spraying down onto the footpath at pedestrians, Due to the high humidity. I stood across the cafe and waited 10 minutes before capturing this. Used a long shutter speed to get a mist like cloud. Most people would walk through the water vapour with no reaction or fending away trying not to get wet. even through it’s very refreshing. This girl almost jumps for joy, enjoying something as simple as refreshing water mist.

Equipment : Canon 450D with 18-55mm kit lenses.
Settings: ISO 200, Shutter speed: 1/25th Aperture: f/22 Focal length: 55mm


Yao Wong

Camera: Canon 60D
Lens: Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8
ISO: 1600
Aperture: Wide open
Shutter speed: 1/60

Celebrating Canada Day in true Aussie fashion – BBQ style!
Pork chops on the bone marinated with
BBQ sauce and Canadian Club Whisky
on a balcony of an apartment 22 stories up

Delicious! *Mind the blatant product placement!*


Gavid Keats

Nikon D3s
105 Macro lens
Profoto D1 monolight
Pocketwizards x 2
Candle x 1

f9, 1/200, ISO 200,

Smoke is always a challenge, you need a good light source to get it clear.

Method – Set camera and flash, light candle, blow candle out, quickly take photo, crop to settings and email.


Roman Summers

This was taken at the “Fat Duck” restaurant just outside of London.
The goal of this restaurant is to excite and stimulate the senses, all of them, through the molecular gastronomy style of cooking. (I highly recommend it but you have to book months in advance).

For this dish there was an “oak” theme, and in the pictured box was some sort of spices and fragrances, which they poured liquid nitrogen onto to create the visual effect and spread the flavour.
This picture evokes memories of the meal and the experience for me.
If I could take it again i would first remove the plastic containers in the middle, but the shot was unexpected as we were always kept guessing about what was next.
While this shot is mainly special due to personal reasons, i also like the visual effect created by the smoke spilling onto the table when captured with a long(ish) shutter speed.

Shot on my Cannon Powershot SX30IS
ISO: 80

Cropping, vignette and some selective colour done in photoshop.

#As a side note, I’d love to see an article on the science of cooking (molecular gastronomy) and maybe some of the gadgets they use create amazing dishes.


Peter Baldwin

The photo was taken at Berry. south of Sydney, early on Sunday morning. We stayed in a guest house in the hills, on the road to Kangaroo Valley. Fog rolled in the night before and was still hanging around even in the afternoon. This photo was taken just before 9 am when the fog cleared a little.
The photo was taken with my iPhone 4, using Pro HDR.
EXIF Summary: 1/3016s, f/2.8, ISO80, 3.85mm.
Only a slight cropping was done to remove a couple of tiny branches from another tree on the right hand side.


Nick Williams

I’ve seen plenty of images of smoke in the past but none of the smoke really interacting with the environment, so when I was given an origami swan at a japanese restaurant, it seemed like the perfect thing to shoot.
The really hard part was suspending the swan without any supports showing up in the picture. What you cant see in the final image is that there is a long support beam behind the swan running well out to beyond the the range of the flash, which was redirected using a odd combination of tin foil and paper to make it come in at right angles to the camera. (I dont have a remote flash trigger) This allowed me to shoot the swan without the need to photoshop anything out of the picture.

Location: Home
Camera: Lumix LX5
Lens: NA
ISO: 80
Exposure time: 1/2000 sec
F.Stop: f/8
Focal Length: 10mm


Assaph Mehr

When I read the challenge I was drinking tea, so I made my girlfriend model for me.
Even though the steam aspect isn’t as prominent as I wanted to get, I like the vibrancy of the colours (only slightly retouched…)

Shot with Canon 5D Mk II with a 85 USM prime lens.
ISO 100, f/2.2, 1/160s.


Mitch Swan

I hope this pic tells its own story but I have to say I had lots of fun with my sis burning various things to find a good shot.

Taken with a Canon 600d, nifty fifty, f3.5, 1/40sec, ISO 200. Mounted in a tripod with a black card behind and a flood light to provide constant light. Post processing for contrast and a little sharpening.