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Old May 8th, 2009, 04:09 PM   #1
Regular Crew
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Burlington, VT
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Steam w/ black background

I'm trying to get a shot of coffee being poured into a cup with the steam rising out. The shot needs to have a black background. I've shot it two different ways and neither are giving me the result I'm looking for. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

For both shots that I've done, I had a coffee put on a stool with black foam core behind it. I was in a room with no windows with all the lights turned off. I placed 1 light perpendicular to my camera but at the same longitude as the coffee cup. With this setup, the pouring of the coffee looked great but there was not enough steam or the steam wasn't thick enough to reflect the light (I poured the coffee onto ice in hopes of creating more steam). Next, I put a lit tea light (small candle) in the cup and blew it out. The rising smoke showed up perfectly and I was able to blend the two shots together well, but it looks like smoke, not steam.

The only other things I can think of is filming steam from dry ice or maybe even pouring the coffee onto dry ice. I'm afraid this will be too exaggerated though. Another thought I had was putting food coloring in boiling water to make it look like coffee and then try the boiling water.

Any other suggestions? Anybody have experience with a shot like this?
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Old May 9th, 2009, 04:02 AM   #2
Inner Circle
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Honolulu, HI
Posts: 2,053
Try back-lighting the steam. Doesn't have to be a powerful light, and doesn't have to come directly on-axis with the lens.

The same trick works for pouring water, smoke, sprinkling droplets, etc.
Dean Sensui
Exec Producer, Hawaii Goes Fishing
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Old May 9th, 2009, 07:49 PM   #3
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Miami, FL USA
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I hesitate to mention this, because I think it's too dangerous, so read it for the background of our photographers used to be a professional studio illustrator. He bought titanium tetrachloride and dribbled it onto anything wet, it makes very nice "steam" ... but it resolves to hydrochloric acid fumes with titanium dioxide in the cloud...titanium dioxide is often used as a super-white pigment, so it works a treat, as far as the photo goes. But our building safety people had a CAT when they found out we were storing the stuff and made us get rid of it....the fumes will corrode anything they touch...but this is how it is/was done in pro food studios, at least at one time...or so he told me. Like I say, you didn't hear it here :) / Battle Vaughan/ video team
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