Actually, this photography trick falls under the category of creating fake smoke, or the illusion of smoke without using something that is smoking. You can use just about any object, as the example I seen on the Internet was an apple, but becuase I did not have any apples, I substituted the prop with a potato instead. Also, string is the main part for the effect; I did not have any string handy, so I used a rubber band as a stand-in for the smoke effect. Lastly, the flashlight, which, if you can adjust the light beam to a narrow focus, then better the effect, but it is not necessary.
Make sure everything is focused up, then set your lens focus to manual (if you are using a zoom lens with “AF” switch on it), and of course, your camera has to be mounted on a tripod. Tape your string to the end of the flashlight, or in my case, a rubber band. Next, turn out the lights in the room, and set the exposure to about 5 seconds. Press the shutter button, with the flashlight on and wiggle and aim the flashlight over top of the potato until the five second exposure is finished.
The wiggling rubber band with the flashlight makes the effect of smoke, while having a black background. Looks like real smoke! Cool eh?
This took me five minutes to set up and about ten shots before I was happy with what I got. DSLR cameras are so much fun! Mine is a Sony A33, a beginner’s camera.
No potatoes were harmed, maimed, or killed during this exercise!
“Fake Smoke” by Jbphotography June 2011.