Photographing smoke on its own doesn’t look all that appealing. With the help of Photoshop, however, we can create abstract art full of vibrant colour that would look great hanging on our walls.


SOOC image

The process to creating smoke art is so simple, and yet the final result looks so effective. In fact, it’s one of my favourite things to create using my camera.

To create this, I use an incense or joss stick to create the smoke. I use a speedlite connected to the camera via a radio trigger, set at around 1/16 or 1/32. The background doesn’t matter too much since I flag off the flash so light doesn’t spill onto it, creating a nice black background. The shutter is set at the flash sync speed, which was 1/250 and the aperture was f/11.

All this, along with using my own judgement as to when to click my shutter, created a nice enough smoke pattern – but not a photograph I could call art or could hang on my wall.


This is where Photoshop came in. Adding a new layer, changing the blending mode and playing with gradients gave me an image I was much happier with. A few more small adjustments to change vibrancy and saturation with a bit of cropping, and suddenly I have a piece of art I’m proud of – and it was so simple to do, too!

This is a technique that can be used in so many ways. This was a simple way to do it, and I could have painted the different colours in manually, but for what the image is – I feel that using gradients was the best way to do it.