Smoke bomb photography is a kind of portrait, street or wedding photography taken with the help of coloured smoke bombs to give an original and unusual effect of real smoke. If you’re interested in taking colored smoke bomb photography for couples, children, women and men, you will find many useful colored smoke photography tips for the first time.
Before using smoke bombs for photography, you should know how they work and what safety rules you should follow to avoid unpleasant situation with your models.
The smoke bomb is kind of firework, which spews out smoke in order to deliver a signal. No matter when you apply it, the color smoke bomb can be used for any occasion to hide the dark background or add bright colors during photo session. In this way, you may create a kind of mystics.
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1. The smoke bomb is exciting. “WP” means wire pull. At one end of the bomb there is a ring that you pull to the side to fire it out. The smoke bomb becomes hot, but still, it is rather convenient to hold it, especially if you have your gloves on.
2. The smoke bomb is costly. It usually costs about $7 per one item and lasts from 60 to 90 seconds. However, the first and last 10 seconds are not suitable for shooting. And, like any of fireworks, it may be spoilt. Among 16 photography smoke bomb pieces there are always 2 ones that do not work.
3. There are smoke bombs that can be fired at both ends. These so-called “bursts” can be easily mixed up with the ordinary smoke bomb for photography. Still, they have Enola Gaye logo (two direction arrows and serial No starting with BWP) on the package. This grenade is more impressive but it burns out much faster.
4. Even a “secure” smoke bomb can be dangerous. When you yank the ring out, there may be sparkles flying with the smoke. DO NOT POINT THEM AT ANYONE. Once, I was making a photo session and the model’s hand was injured by the smoke bomb’s spark. Moreover, the bomb stays warm only when being fired but it remains hot for a certain period when the smoke ends. One must dump a used bomb on the fire resistant surface or into the water to prevent wildfires. You should throw the shell away only if it is cool. It could be the best decision to keep the extinguisher around during a photo session.
5. A funny moment is that colored bombs may color different things. It is better to hold the smoke grenades away from the clothes, body, and other stuff as they leave spots. The colorant is water-based and you may clean the stains, though there is still special sort of clothes that are hard to wash. So, you can put the cover on your camera equipment if you are taking photos near the smoke.
6. Check if it is allowed to use a smoke bomb in the place where you are taking pictures. In my case, I have got approval from the owner of the property to organize the photo session. You may discover that coloured smoke bomb photography is considered illegal, and a lot of parks prohibit any type of fireworks. Before you decide to use smoke grenades, especially white or black smoke bomb photography in the public place, you should report this to local officials. Verify the local conditions to find out if any permission is needed. Also, make sure that everybody in the building is aware of photo shooting with smoke bombs.
7. Don’t forget: it is still smoke. Though it looks amazing, it is not so easy to breathe in the smoke.
Colored smoke bomb photography must be organized in the proper way and you have to treat it very seriously. Among the most frequent threats are explosion or burning, spots, fire, and smell. Find more about each concern.
1. Explosion / Burning
I advise everybody to use cool burning smoke bombs to avoid such risks, although they are often unavailable. They are unlikely to detonate, but anything may occur. This may happen when the redundant moisture is getting into the cylinder, thereby blocking the way to expel the smoke. This may result in the burning of a smoke bomb. There are some features that indicate the evident problem with the grenade. If you do not see plumes emitting after the fuze has already burnt, it indicates the problem with moisture blockage inside the tube. Just go away from that place leaving the bomb burning itself. As for burning: it isn’t recommended to hold the smoke bomb as it becomes really hot, except the cool burning smoke bomb type. Otherwise, you should realize all the risks, and try to keep your hand low to the ground, which is the coldest place because a bomb burns from the upper part to the bottom.
If you use the color smoke bomb for photography, remember that the smoke is too close to the clothes, it may get dirty.
When the photography smoke bomb has burned, be careful and responsible to dispose of it. It’s better to carry some water with you if you intend to use smoke bombs. You must not fire them in the excessively dry region, woods or places with lots of highly inflammable objects. As soon as the smoke bomb has burned down, you should pour the water on the cylinder. Then put it into the trash can.
The plume of smoke is very dense and often irritates the eyes and throat. I do not actually have any problems with the smell but some people may feel uncomfortable. It may stay in your hair and dress, just like you feel the smell of food or cigarette in the restaurant.
I usually apply the photography smoke bomb because of the color it provides. I enjoy the colorful mist around, but it is not always possible to use smoke bombs. It has been previously highlighted that you should keep bombs far away from the easily flamed or dry objects. We advise you to avoid using them during hot summer months unless there is water nearby. The only spark may cause a big fire, so be very careful with it. The windy weather may be very dangerous as well, so you’d better pack smoke bombs and keep them for the next time.
There is a number of smoke bomb photography ideas to implement. Actually, there are no rules. There is a set of grenades in our car. We stock them up as we may suddenly decide to stop the car and take an amazing shot with the help of smoke bombs. It is also a great idea to use them for the engagement or wedding photo session, etc. There isn’t any rule on how to use the bombs: you can ask your model to hold the smoke bomb or place them around while you are taking pictures.
People often ask me where to buy smoke bombs. So, you can get them at the pyrotechnic stores or make an order on the web. The most popular place is smoke bomb photography Amazon that provides a number of smoke bombs like props. The cost varies from $4 to $50 and more, as it depends on the smoke density and its thickness.
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I really like Enola Gaye Smoke Grenades because of the cool burning effect and the wire pull mechanism. These bombs are costly, but the price is reasonable. You can buy the smoke bombs in different markets and supermarkets but you can’t find the cool burning smoke bombs there. They do sometimes sell them, but very rarely. It is necessary to check everything carefully and consider the risks since they might turn out to be defective.
If you are wondering how to light a smoke bomb, it is rather easy – you just need to pull a wire like with any regular grenade. The clouds of smoke created by a bomb will last only from 60-90 seconds, which means that you have to act quickly. Prepare all the necessary props and ideas for poses in advance. Don't forget that you may need extra bombs for additional shots.
Make sure that you don't go too far trying to get a variety of colors at once. It is better to choose smoke grenades of two colors or less for one shot.
Smoke bomb photography can easily turn into a real disorder if you don't take into account such details as, location and outfit for a photoshoot. Smoke bombs may leave colorful stains on models' clothes which can't be cleared off. That's why you should suggest your model to wear those garments that he/she can throw away without any regrets.
Colored smoke bomb photography is always organized outside and can be quite challenging as its success depends mostly on weather conditions. I highly recommend you to choose sunny and calm days for smoke bomb photography and avoid windy weather. A beautiful location in a nearby forest will be perfect for such photoshoots, because trees may stifle the wind and make the background more beautiful.
Smoke bomb photography lighting plays an important role in such types of photoshoots. It might be a good idea to take photos during a golden hour, namely the last hours before sunset, to get a natural and soft light in portraits.
Before the beginning of a photoshoot, I advise you to discuss and explain all the necessary steps to a model, especially if you want to get dynamic shots. Ask a model to try certain poses firstly without an actual bomb, so that there won't be any misunderstanding. A model might not be able to realize all your smoke bomb photography ideas at the first attempt, so prepare extra grenades.
You probably understand that not every model has experience in dealing with photography smoke bomb. As a photographer, you will have to guide your models through each step and constantly give tips. Models can’t see what is happening on a camera screen, they don't know how it all looks like from your place and whether all their actions look natural. The only thing they understand is that everything has to be done in less than a minute and that a number of shots are limited. You are responsible for posing the models and commenting on their performance. It is usually a good idea to put a mirror in front of a model so that he/she can clearly see his/her actions.
Relocate a model, if the smoke is going straight into his/her face. When you need more smoke, you can ask a model to turn around slowly to make a big circle. As a result, you will get a wall of smoke. Color smoke bomb photography will also look great if more than one model is involved in a photoshoot. In this situation, I recommend locating them in proper places and ask them to try various poses.
And vice versa. Keep this in mind when planning the photo.
A wind of approximately 10-15 mph may prevent you from getting distinct trails and dense clouds of smoke in a shot. I strongly suggest finding a location, where the wind won't be interfering with smoke bomb photography. In case a photoshoot takes place inside, the room should be well-ventilated.
Remember that in smoke bomb photography: 1/1000 minimum, 1/2000+ better. Besides, don't forget to properly adjust aperture and ISO.
When you need to make tendrils of a smoke bomb for photography sharper, set up a source of light at one of the sides.
You can achieve an interesting effect of secluded smoke areas with the help of tree branches. Using props, such as hats or umbrellas, you can try to play and catch smoke for beautiful shots.
If you are wondering where to buy smoke bombs, go to large shops that have excellent customer reviews. Such shops sell verified smoke bombs that have a good shelf life.
Before starting a photoshoot, you have to check the smoke grenades, adjust the necessary settings, ignite one of the bombs and take test photos. Be ready to face some obstacles in a shooting process, for example, a lack of light or a strong wind. Smoke bomb photography requires manual focus, that why you will need to prepare everything in advance, as the smoke typically disappears in 10-20 seconds.
The main advice I would like to share is that you shouldn't turn the colorful smoke into the central focus of your photo, it is just an additional element. The best concept of smoke bomb photography is to concentrate on a model's face and pose him/her so that the smoke will enhance the overall atmosphere of a shot. Your image is supposed to look outstanding even without smoke.
If you want to simplify the photo post production, it is better to shoot in RAW format. You can also choose JPEG in case you don't intend to edit shots. Even though RAW images occupy a good deal of memory, they facilitate the adjustment of white balance and exposure. For the smoke to stay in focus, you will need to set an aperture approximately at f/8. The sync speed of a flash is supposed to match a shutter speed – usually approximately 1/200 or 1/250.
The final shot won't have almost any noise if you set the ISO to 100. In case you need a noise to be more noticeable, increase the ISO value. When you take photos in RAW format, white balance doesn't play a significant role, but you can set it auto just to be on the safe side. For a picture in warm tones, a white balance should be set to “shade”, for a picture in cool tones, it should be set to “tungsten”.
To focus shot, put a camera on a tripod, turn on the lights and concentrate on a color smoke stick. It is the exact place, where smoke is coming from and, in this way, a photo will certainly be in focus. The next step is to change a focus ring to manual and tilt a camera a little up and left where the smoke appears. Keep in mind that colored smoke sticks shouldn't get into a shot.
1. Red Queen
For a dramatic look, ask a model wear a piece of clothing of a red color and use a red smoke bomb.
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2. The Ethnic Motives
Put a floral wreath on models' heads and make them hold a bouquet of flowers. Ignite a color smoke bomb for photography, for example, orange or yellow.
Get a realistic smoke effect in photos, using a color smoke box with 5 cartridges. The result will be awesome.
3. Smoke and Flowers
Involve a floral wreath into a shot, ask a model to make an enigmatic pose and use a purple smoke bomb. In such a setting, a model will look like a real fairy.
4. The Circle
Ignite two smoke bombs of different colors at the same time and ask a model to make a circular movement with a hand in the air. Such action will surely produce a wow effect.
While using colorful smoke grenades, a model shouldn't only have a serious or mysterious face expression. Make a model smile, as using smoke bombs is all about having fun!
Suggest a model dance while waving around smoke grenades of several colors. A combination of these colors will produce a remarkable effect.
A model will look extremely striking and powerful if he/she imitates exercising surrounded by grey and white clouds of smoke.
8. Cages or Lamp
Capture a moment of colorful smoke coming out of a lamp or cage being held by a model and get a spectacular shot. You will need to put a grenade into an object beforehand.
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9. Street Style
Take photos of a model with a colorful smoke bomb against the background with a bright graffiti wall to get a vibrant outdoor image.
10. Colorful Umbrella
Install a smoke grenade of any color into an umbrella and ignite it. A model holding an umbrella with bright colors of smoke coming from it will look fantastic.
11. No-Face Photos
Increase the mysterious look of a shot by capturing a moment, when a trail of smoke from a bomb is covering a model's face.
Enclose a model, who is doing some sports activity, for instance, a gymnastic trick, in red clouds of smoke. In a shot, it will look like he/she is performing on a circus stage.
13. Halloween Edition
Smoke bomb photography Amazon is absolutely appropriate for Halloween-themed shots. A model dressed as a witch or other scary creatures surrounded by green smoke will look awesome.
14. Autumn Vibes
The smoke grenades are a great addition to an exceptional autumn photoshoot. Smoke bombs of orange or brown colors will look especially incredible in such images.
15. In the Water
If a model is posing in a river, lake or a pool, it might be a good idea to give him/her a smoke bomb of a blue, green or turquoise tone that will perfectly match the color of the water.
16. Guy Thing
Masculine colors are usually black and somber ones. That's why you can ask a male model to pose with a smoke grenade of any dark color and diversify a simple shot.
Create a moody atmosphere in a photo suggesting a model squat and lower a smoke grenade to the ground. This action will make it seem like clouds of smoke enveil the surroundings.
18. Bring Winter
Ignite a pink smoke bomb or a red one in a winter background. The contrast between red and white will look very prominent and a winter shot will turn out to be more eye-catching.
19. Old Bricks and Smoke
Make a model pose with a colorful smoke grenade in front of a brick wall or any brick building. A dynamic movement of smoke trails will create an excellent effect on a dark background.
Black smoke bomb photography can be effectively performed if a model is wearing a scary mask. The color of a smoke might also be yellow in order to achieve a more dangerous and intimidating effect.
21. Colors in Motion
The real beauty of colorful smoke grenades is efficiently revealed in photos involving motion. That's why a variety of colors are widely used in smoke bomb car photography.
22. Wedding Lights
A beautiful wedding image doesn't exactly mean being bright, light and saturated. Creative wedding photos can also be taken at night, with a couple enclosed by smoke bombs of different colors.
23. Engagement Style
A perfect concept for an extraordinary engagement photo is the usage of colorful smoke grenades. Smoke clouds behind a couple in a shot will look not only striking but memorable.
24. In One Shade
Create a magnificent background for a wedding photoshoot, igniting a smoke grenade of one color. A couple wearing white and black clothes in contrast with bright trails of smoke will turn an image into a captivating one.
Using more than two colorful smoke bombs at once might be a difficult task to complete. But the result – a vibrant photo with a multicolored background will be definitely worth the effort.
I really hope that you will find my pieces of advice on smoke bomb photography useful! Don't hesitate to leave your thoughts below, I'd be delighted to read them!
Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a photographer, photo retoucher and of course, journalist. Here on FixThePhoto blog you can find all of my reviews, photography and photo editing tips, pricing guides, and photography experiments.