Photo ideas: photographing smoke and smoke photo art

Photo ideas: photographing smoke and smoke photo art

Photoshop tutorial: turning smoke photos into art

By simply mirroring the smoke trails in PhotoShop or similar software, you can create some weird and wacky art. It’s a technique that’s simple to do – and we guarantee it’ll keep you amused for hours. In this example, we chose to mirror the image top to bottom, but you can also mirror from left to right or even mirror it both ways for really strange results. For even more creativity, don’t forget you can rotate the images any way you like when you’re done. Use the download links at the top of bottom of the page to get the start image, then follow these simple steps…

1. Centre court

Turn on the Snap feature (View>Snap) and the Rulers (View>Rulers). Click and hold the cursor in the top ruler then drag the guide precisely down to the centre of the image.


2. Layer cake

Create a duplicate Layer then flip it horizontally by selecting Edit>Transform>Flip Vertical. This will make a two-Layered image with the top Layer in the opposite rotation.


3. Top marquee

Select the Rectangular Marquee Tool and starting from the bottom corner, select the  image up to the centre Guide. Hit the Delete key to reveal the background Layer.


4. Mirror mirror

Hide the Guides by pressing Ctrl+H so that you can see the whole image. To move on to the colouring work, flatten the Layers into one image by clicking Layer>Flatten Image.


5. Colour fill

Select the Gradient Tool from the Tools Palette, select a Radial Gradient pattern and choose a Foreground to Transparency fill. Use Overlay blending mode and set Opacity to 40%. Select various colours and drag the gradient tool over the image.


Smoke photo sample gallery

Is it an alien, is it a baby – or do I need to see a psychologist? Mirroring a simple incense smoke shot straight down the middle and adding a splash of colour creates stunning results. Why not have a go at this creative technique and upload the shots to your gallery…

All smoke photo images Ben Birchall/Future

Have you tried this creative smoke photography technique? Add your tips and suggestions for other photographers below…