This mini tutorial shows you how to light up the model inorder to shoot smoke in context of a beauty shot. Shooting headshots are simple. Shooting smoke is fun. Combine the two together....its twice the fun. Take a look at the lighting setup used for this image, and the basics of what goes in capturing smoke.
Lets start with the basics of lighting and shooting smoke. First and foremost, you will need a dark background like dark gray(or any dark color) or black. Try to keep a good distance between the backdrop and the subject where the smoke originates. This is to avoid light spilling onto the backdrop when lighting the smoke. You can light the smoke with just one light from the side. It is that simple. You can also use two lights at low power from opposite sides.
For this image we also had to light up the model. Since we had not much option, we had to go with the cross lighting technique, which is placing the light on opposite sides facing each other while the subject is in between. To light the face and the smoke perfectly, we chose to setup the light as below.
The stripbox on the left was slightly one stop more to accentuate the smoke as THAT was the main element. The light bounced from the silver umbrella was merely used as fill light on the face and to sparkle up the makeup. The cutters used were to avoid flare in the lens. The above image has been retouched only slightly for skin, nothing more.
Below is a fun image we played around with in photoshop. We just took a sample of the smoke....actually various smoke shots in the same set....and twist and bent them around in different layers to form a heart.