Photography 1001 : Powder Photography

Are you interested in the effect that Smoke Bomb creates, but worried about the legal issues it may bring? There is actually another item you can use to create a similar effect – coloured powder.


You may wonder what kind of powder you should use. In fact, there’s no restrictions, just that you need to have a lot of such powder, so you probably won’t use milk powder for the project. It’s like the powder you find in Colour Run, you just make sure it is non-toxic and ideally, free of any heavy metals. Some people will order Holi Powder online, but you can also make your own. For instance, you can make coloured powder with a combination of cornstarch, baking soda, and dyes.


What to Pay Attention to?

As with any substance, you want to keep it out of your eyes. Make sure when your model or your helpers throw the powder, try not to breathe in the particles or they may be choked. Our advice is for the everyone in the area to keep their mouth shut and if possible, close their eyes.

We also have another tip for the photographer; keep your camera some distance from the powder. However, to play safe, we recommend covering cameras/phones with a protective dust wrap. This is because colorful powder particles when being blowed or threw, will be everywhere in the atmosphere and is possible to land on your lens; it is difficult to clean due to how fine it is, and may harm your lens and even camera. So keep your equipments safe and clean unless you are planning to get a new set of gears afterwards. In fact, even if you are planning to get new gears, it is better to keep the old ones in good condition.

It is important to note that coloured powder tend to stain, not only clothes, but also your skin. It may take a hard scrubing before you can see your own skin colour again. Therefore, make sure to inform your model and helpers about that to ensure they have an extra set of clothes to change into, and won’t wear apparel that they don’t want to get stained.

Also, you need to be reminded about that cornstarch and some of the Holi powder sold online are flammable. If anyone smoke or try to light up anything, it will result in a serious fire and hence burnt whoever is covered in powder. So if you are not careful, you can get the whole set up on fire and your model in ICU. You can look up on the Taiwan Colour Run Explosion if you want to learn more about how serious the situation can become.



  1. Freeze time with an extremely short exposure time;
  2. Throwing the powder at the model; or
  3. Putting the powder on the model then let them shake away it;
  4. Use dark background to create contrast;
  5. Flash on the powder to enhance the dramatic effect;
  6. Add gradient colour to powder during post-processing


You can learn more about high-speed powder photography in the following video:

Credits: Photo Extremist – High-Speed Powder Photography Tutorial

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