Are you interested in learning smoke bomb photography but not sure where to start? Are you concerned about safety? Where to buy smoke bombs for photography? How much smoke bombs cost? What is the best camera backpack to take with you on your shoots? If smoke bombs ruin clothes? And how long do smoke bombs last?
Well if you are, this blog post is for YOU!
In this article, we'll cover how to make sure your smoke bomb photoshoot turns out great.
Smoke Bomb Photography
- Play it safe
- Colors, Clothing, and Mood
- Experiment With Lighting
- Shutter Speeds and Motion
- Where to Buy Smoke Bombs
What is Smoke Bomb Photography?
'Smoke bomb photography’ is a technique to capture plumes of colored smoke. It's also known as, ‘smoke grenade photography,' and ‘color bomb photography.'
Smoke bomb photography uses an adapted version of a military smoke grenade. Using a color bomb in your photography can change the mood of your photos.
With the right smoke bomb photography ideas, you can make fun backgrounds that harness the power of color, texture, and spontaneity. When done right, smoke bomb pictures are engaging, memorable, and exciting.
Many photographers have picked up on this trend. They make Smoke bomb photos with vibrant dimensional colors without using gels.
Smoke bombs can be especially useful in themed portrait sessions. Why take standard portraits when you can use smoke bombs? They offer a new way to tell a story. They shift focus from the subject’s features or pose to emphasize a narrative.
You can pose your subject in saturated wisps of colored smoke. Or, use them to add mystery to product photography, and action to car photos.
No matter what subject you’re shooting, color bomb photos will grab the viewer’s attention.
They add atmosphere, depth, and mood in new ways that alter how people experience your imagery.
1. Play it Safe
Smoke bomb photography is a fun way to show your creativity.
But, it can be quite dangerous if you don’t prepare and maintain a high level of safety awareness. A smoke bomb photoshoot can even result in fire or disaster without proper planning.
This is because smoke bomb photography uses a live smoke grenade. A smoke grenade emits sparks and uncontrollable opaque smoke that limits visibility. The military used smoke grenades as a diversionary tactic. This is the reason smoke bomb photography is also known as, ‘smoke grenade photography.’
Smoke grenade photography uses two common types of grenades: pull-pin and canned. Each has pros and cons. You can decide which one to use depending on the goals of your smoke bomb photoshoot and budget.
Pull-pin smoke grenades are easier. They don’t need to be lit and produce smoke for a longer duration of time than a canned grenade. This is great if you're shooting a lot of smoke bomb pictures. This extra time helps shoot different backgrounds and angles.
Canned smoke bomb grenades are the cheaper and traditional version. These smoke bombs must be lit and carry the burden of requiring a lighter. They also give off more heat, which means they must be set in place - usually on the ground.
Canned smoke grenades provide a cost advantage. But, they limit your creative options due to the fact they’re so hot to handle. If you want to hold the smoke grenade, be sure to use a pull-pin grenade.
Look for one that reads, ‘cool burning,’ on the product description.
Most pull-pin smoke photography grenades ‘burn cool.' But, they may still be too hot for some people to handle. It’s a good idea to rehearse your posing, shooting, and movements with a trial run before you shoot.
This way your subject can determine if it’s something they can do. You don't want any surprises that could result in a burn or fire.
Hold the color smoke grenade with caution when it’s active. Point it away from the body and keep watch for any flammable materials that may ignite in your vicinity.
Remember, color bomb photography uses a device that emits sparks. Take extra precautions to protect clothing, camera, and equipment. Watch out for flammable hair products too.
Keep a safe distance from anything you don't want to cover in colored soot. It will land on everything around it.
With the right wind conditions, it can carry a very far distance. In a bad scenario, you could find yourself washing the neighbor’s car if you’re not careful.
Finally, check with the local authorities before planning a color bomb photoshoot. Smoke bombs are a prohibited firework and in some areas.
2. Colors, Clothing, and Mood
Smoke bomb photography requires knowing some color theory. Research which colors complement each other and how they’ll affect your color bomb photos.
Choose colors for clothing that work with your smoke colors to create the right mood. Also, make sure you don’t stain anything valuable.
Newer smoke grenade photography bombs use biodegradable water-soluble dyes. But, the colored smoke can still stain or damage clothing. hair and even your skin!
This is especially important using smoke bomb photography during a wedding shoot. You don't want to ruin the bride's wedding dress when you make your smoke bomb pictures.
Remember, using smoke in photography is another way of using a very colorful prop. Use complementary colors that contrast or blend into your smoke bomb photos.
The creative options for smoke photography are endless. Have fun with your subject and make the photo come alive!
3. Experiment With Lighting
Lighting smoke photography can be a fun challenge.
Smoke bomb photos look great when shot during the Golden hour. It’s a perfect way to get natural and soft light for your subject in portraits. It also preserves the hue of the smoke.
If you're feeling especially adventurous, try making smoke bomb photos at night. The trick is to position your light source behind or to the side of the smoke. This way your smoke photography doesn’t appear flat.
Setting your lights at an angle creates dimension. It adds dramatic highlights and soft shadows around the edges of smoke. This fall-off of light blends into saturated colors around your subject.
Try backlighting your subject from behind blue smoke. It's a great way to create a silhouette in your smoke bomb photos that mimics the effect of moonlight. Or, use a flashlight and slow shutter speeds to make a light shaft of concentrated light.
Use a long telephoto lens during your smoke bomb photoshoot to give it a cinematic look. And, bracket your exposures and experiment with high-key (bright) or low-key (dark) effects.
4. Shutter Speeds and Motion
Shutter speed has a dramatic impact on smoke photography.
When you take smoke bomb pictures with fast shutter speeds the smoke will have very sharp detail. But, if you shoot with a slower shutter speed the smoke it'll look more flowing and wispy.
For detail, speed is the name of the game. Set your camera's shutter speed between 1/800-1/2500 (or higher). Don’t forget to adjust ISO and aperture to compensate for this specific setting.
Shooting smoke bomb photography is best done with natural light. It lets you shoot faster than your camera's flash sync-shutter speed. Most cameras sync at 1/250. With enough natural light and the right ISO setting you can shoot up to 1/8000.
Slow shutter speeds in smoke bomb pictures create a look that's surreal and mellow. You can also sway the grenade across the scene to get distinctive motion trails. Or, ask an assistant to walk across the scene to create swirls of smoke.
5. Where to Buy Smoke Bomb Photography Grenades
The most popular brand of smoke grenades for creating smoke bomb pictures is Enola Gaye. They’re perfect for smoke grenade photography because they, 'burn cool,' so you can hold them in your hand. This lets you explore more creative smoke bomb photography ideas.
Enola Gaye smoke bombs are also non-toxic. They won't have any adverse effect on other bystanders or animals nearby.
You can buy Enola Gaye smoke grenades for $11 - $19 on their website, Walmart, or Amazon.
Now it’s Your Turn
Color smoke bomb pictures are a perfect addition to any photography portfolio. can help you make stunning shots. Use these tips, and make your photos explode with color!