Crone Capture

So the other day I got a late season request to do an autumn, outdoor witchy photo shoot with some smoke, levitation and a little saucy creepiness. I never done one quite like this before so I was all game. It was a bit of a trick getting the schedules and weather to cooperate but

eventually we landed a good date and near perfect weather for November in Northeast Ohio. It was going to be a late shoot so we were up against the clock to get what we could before we lost too much light. I was expecting low light, high ISO's and high image grain but given the vibe and character of the shoot, I thought this could be an acceptable by-product.


Working with these popular pop smoke bombs is a bit tricky as you don't have the luxury of taking your time to set up the shot. With around 90 seconds of smoke you have to be quick on your feet for both the photographer and the talent. Kinda map out your walking and make sure not to trip over anything. So in addition to maintaining high enough shutter speed to capture tight smoke formations, losing light and very hard focusing from the moving smoke - it's challenging so speed and improvising is the name of the game here.


Takes a bit of athleticism to pull off some of these poses so I tried to work fast to minimize model posing fatigue.


I ran a bunch of shots with no flash gear then a short set with a, C-stand, a 86" parabolic umbrella and a single AlienBee flash head. Had a bit of a nasty problem when the umbrella collapsed on itself and toasted the flash tube! Did a double check on it by engaging the head and it sounded like firing off a pistol....pop! 50 dollar flash tube smoked. Here's where it pays to have a backup. A heads up on smoke bombs, they are very thick and there can be some talent sensitivities with skin and eyes. After reviewing the images I could see that one of the models was having a bit of a hard time with eye irritation. She trucked through it like a champ though. Using these smoke sticks really does open up quite a bit of creative options in many different kinds of shoots.



We tried a few ad hoc levitation shots without the use of the tripod because I apparently like to make a ton more post work for myself in Photoshop. These were pretty cool and actually turned out a little better than I thought they would considering. Takes a bit of athleticism to pull off some of these poses so I tried to work fast to minimize posing fatigue. Very important to be aware of how the clothing is flattened out when the talent is sitting on something that will later be removed so that you can minimize your post work for what is supposed to look like it's floating. Trying to picture what the end result would look like after the support was removed. Next time, I will certainly use a tripod to lock in a static frame shot for compositing in post without having to create and copy content. Next time, I'd consider bringing a taller ladder too for more options.


Things I would do next time  -


Start earlier and just pick a cloudy day without the risk of running into natural light issues

Use a tripod for levitation shots, take more time for setup

Buy more smoke sticks as there are tons of creative things that you can do with them

Take more flash shots since moving with the smoke changes your exposure significantly

Allow for more time for talent makeup, outfit tweaks and getting into character


Overall this was a blast to do and the girls did great and I think that they had fun too. The post processing was a little heavy handed but for this genre I think it called for it. I'm always looking to try something new and this little forest excursion fit the bill nicely. Looking forward to working with smoke bombs again in the future in other creative photoshoots other than this genre. Keep clickin.

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