Yesterday, I mentioned that I had two shots of this type that I liked and that neither of them were perfect. Well, I've ditched the one I intended to put up in favour of this one, which is as near perfect as I think this type of shot gets. You're quite free to disagree with me, but this one is exactly the type of image I was after: lots of detail, razor sharp (unlike yesterday's, which was a bit soft), and interesting colours and tones.
A few of you asked how these are done:
- set up a source of smoke in between the camera and a dark background. I used a joss stick.
- light the scene from the side. I used my 580EX as the main source of illumination for this one, triggered using an ST-E2 transmitter.
- set the exposure accordingly. I used a manual setting of f/16.0 for this shot coupled with a shutter speed of 1/30. From what I've read, if you're using a source of illumination other than flash, you probably need a shutter speed of 1/125 or above. You also need to be careful to pre-focus. I had the camera about 3 feet from the smoke for this one and even with an aperture of f/16.0 the DoF is only 1" deep.
- take a lot of shots. I took over three hundred to get these two. There were a couple more that were ok, but only two I was really happy with.
As for the processing:
- invert the image. This makes the background white rather than black.
- adjust the overall contrast using a Curve.
- tone the smoke using a Curve, Hue/Saturation, or similar.
- use Noise Ninja or other noise reduction software as appropriate.
And that's about it. Let me know what you think.
9.43pm on 12/10/06|
EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM