Smoke bombs are also known as smoke grenades which means they are a type of pyrotechnic device or firework. This means they are regulated by the government and, as such, there are many rules on where and when you can use them, as well as buy them.
Before running out and buying your first set of smoke bombs, here are some tips that will help you get started:
There are a few types that ignite differently, some have ring pull ignitions and others have wicks that you light. The types vary from amount of smoke released and how long the smoke lasts.
To reiterate, when buying colored smoke, pay attention to the burn time, the density of the smoke, and the activation method.
Be aware of costs
Consider buying a variety pack, these typically will include free shipping and will give you some extra smoke bombs to practice with before the shoot. You'll usually pay less per smoke bomb in a bulk pack as well.
If you ignite one and it doesn’t put out much smoke after a few seconds, drop it in a bucket and get away from it. Smoke bomb companies have very high quality control, but there will be duds, and there will be bombs that will have a short flame. Be prepared for any situation.
Smoke bombs also give off sparks when lit which means you shouldn’t use them anywhere where there is a significant risk of fire. Anywhere around dry wood, grass, old foliage can easily catch on fire so avoid using them around those things.
Lastly, smoke bombs can leave stains if laid against something. Putting them up against fabric, or even concrete will leave a colored stain.
Method of Activation
Or plan on 2 shorter smoke bombs to make up for the adjusted time. Some of the best smoke bombs to shoot with are Dual Vents. These have a shorter burn time, but have twice the amount of smoke come out at once since it comes out of both ends. So you can get a massive cloud in a short period of time.
Teach your Model: Instruct your model how best to use the smoke bomb. instead of just holding it still, have them move it slowly. Smoke trails look amazing in photography. You can also use a small fan to help the smoke go where you want it to go.
Props are always great: if you want to add more to your scene, consider a prop. We've seen amazing photos using cages, umbrellas, lanterns, even some gas masks have a really impactful effect.
Shutter Speed options: Since the smoke movement depends on the air current, your shutter speed will have a massive impact on the final result. Your shutter speed should be set to 1/800 to help freeze the smoke’s motion and get a clear shot of the smoke’s puffiness. Keep moving and take amazing photos!
If you want more of a wispy look, opt for slower shutter speeds and use a tripod as well.
Still interested and need to be pointed in the right direction?
5g Smoke Wicks are a cost-efficient option that come in stick form and give you approximately 45 seconds of burn time per stick. We have a lot of colors to choose from, including some really fun color-changing options. Remember they are not recommended for hand-holding (like most smoke bombs).
Smoke Effect is a great option. It's a step above Wicks but still affordable to experiment with and you don't need a lighter to activate them. You get up to 90 seconds of effect on our single vent bombs and with our dual vents smokes you will get up to 45 seconds and those give a large dense cloud pretty immediately.
Enola Gaye has been around the longest in the professional smoke bomb market. They have a lot of features and a price tag to match. You can try and buy in bulk to cut down their price per unit, but ultimately you are paying for the name more than the product.
–One or more smoke bombs*
–A lighter, if you are using a type of smoke bomb that does not self-ignite*
–Lighting to make your smoke color pops
–A fan to blow the smoke into position
–A metal bucket with water* (to dispose of all used smoke bombs)
* These items are absolutely necessary *
Now that you have the knowledge, it’s time to get the tools and plan your shoot. Use the right safety measures, keep an eye on your color theory, and enjoy your brand new photography technique.