2019 WEEK 4: Smoke, Steam or Vapor

It’s time for a technique challenge! I had so much fun photographing smoke for my photo in Week 2 that I wanted to make it a challenge for everyone. Feel free to be as creative as you’d like as long as there is smoke, steam or vapor in the image. You can go abstract (like the sample images below) or include it as part of a larger composition.

Here are some ideas for generating some smoke, steam or vapor that will stick around so that you can practice capturing it:

  • Incense (beautiful smoke)
  • Essential oil diffuser (vapor)
  • Ultrasonic humidifier

Certainly you can try boiling water in a cup as well, but the steam dissipates fairly quickly so you might want to try one of the options above.

Incense will be easiest to capture and creates more defined lines:

Smoke from incense creates a more defined design than vapor or steam.

However, an essential oil diffuser is certainly possible:

Vapor from an essential oil diffuser is, appropriately, more diffuse.

To successfully capture smoke, steam or vapor, the trick is to backlight it. In the photo below (taken with my phone), I set my essential oil diffuser in the sun and put a black foam core board behind it. (If you don’t have sun in the forecast, you can also use a strong flashlight if you don’t have flash units for your camera.) Be prepared to take a lot of photos. Not only will you want to experiment with camera settings, but the randomness of the smoke, steam and vapor means that you will most likely need to take a lot of photos before you get something you like. (In other words, don’t feel like you are a bad photographer just because you need to take a whole bunch of photos. It’s all part of this technique!)

How to setup the shot: Backlighting for the smoke or vapor against a dark backdrop.

Here are some links for you to peruse to learn the technique for capturing smoke, steam or vapor:

Also, please remember to comment on at least FIVE photo submissions this week by answering the question “why?” in your comments. In other words, “why do I like (or not like) this photo?” or “why did this photo catch my eye?” I’ve loved seeing all of the interaction in the Facebook group the past couple of weeks. Thank you!

The friendly community guidelines are pretty simple:

  • Take a new photo for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Post your photo each week to our active communities on Facebook or Flickr (or both). Tag the photo:  #2019photochallenge #photochallenge #tempusaura
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2019 Trevor Carpenter Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

About thedigitaljeanie

I’m a self-taught photographer and way back when I used to love taking photos, but I allowed a business that I started in 2004 to take over my life and my photographic repertoire was reduced to quick product shots and how-to tutorials. When I joined the PhotoChallenge in December 2015, I was looking to rekindle my creativity and bring some joy back into my photography. I jumped in with both feet and have not looked back. I believe that photography can change the way we see and interact with the world around us. Some people may think that I hide behind the camera, but I feel that I experience the world in a much more intimate way when I am creating a composition in my viewfinder. In those moments distractions disappear, my mind focuses and I am fully present. It is just me and my camera capturing a moment in time that might otherwise go unnoticed. My background is as varied as the photos that I take. I’ve trained and worked as a software engineer, a massage therapist, an English teacher in Vietnam, a photo restoration artist (which is how I learned Photoshop) and for the past twelve years I have run a small software business with my husband where I have been published in numerous books and magazines, appeared on PBS television, created designs for fabric, quilts and machine embroidery and won awards for some of my quilts. It should come as no surprise that I am intensely curious about life and love to learn new things. I am blessed to live in the beautiful state of Colorado, USA in the Rocky Mountain foothills outside of Fort Collins with my husband and cat. You can find me online at: Photos: flickr.com/photos/the-digital-jeanie/ Day job: KaleidoscopeCollections.com Facebook: facebook.com/jeaniesa