Competitive vaping, otherwise known as “cloud chasing” or “stunt vaping” has taken over as a significant part of modern vape culture as we know it today.
Chances are, if you’re someone who regularly vapes, or you know someone who does, then you have heard one of these terms once or twice. Luckily for you, this guide will walk you through the wonderful world of cloud chasing and how you too can partake in this phenomena to grow a presence on Instagram and other social media outlets.
Cloud chasing is a style of vaping in which you create huge clouds of vapor. Cloud chasers is the term used to describe those who partake competitively in this form of vaping.
What started as entertainment for vaping enthusiasts on platforms like YouTube and Instagram quickly grew into a competition created by larger smoke shops and vape juice and e-cig manufacturers.
Competitions started out small and local, with only a few competitors, but has since grown to something much more. From its humble grass root beginnings, cloud chasing has grown to include many giant tournaments hosted annually around the United States, like the International Cloud Championship in California, the World Series of Vaping in Miami, and the World Series of Vaping in Las Vegas. Events like these take the world of vaping to a whole new level.
How to Cloud Chase
When it comes to chasing clouds there are many places you can go to learn the basics. Vape forums are a great place to learn from experienced chaser. YouTube also hosts a wide range of helpful videos from instructional how-to clips to impressive showcases of talent. And then you have blogs like this one where we’ll help you learn the basics of what you’ll need to get started.
Like anything, cloud chasing can take time and practice to master. But with a little help from your friends at Loto Labs we can make sure you get started out right.
Equipment: First, do your research and find the best vape box for your goals. Professional vapers usually customize and implement consistent upgrades to their vape device, turning it into a personalized cloud chasing unit. There are some vape manufacturers that make models specifically for cloud chasing. These vape models have specialized atomizers and coils that allow e-liquid to drip directly onto the heating element. Typically these are mechanical mods and you can’t control the voltage from the battery. Through trial and error you will find which settings and equipment works best for you!
Supplies: Pro cloud chasers don’t create huge clouds from the standard batteries that come in your vaporizer. Cloud chasers usually use a high voltage battery. Use caution when vaping and testing out high voltage batteries, if it feels like it is overheating, chill out, cloud chasing can be dangerous if not practiced properly.
E-Liquid: In order to blow clouds like some of the pros, you will need to be vaping juice that has more vegetable glycerin. Vegetable glycerin works much better than propylene glycol, but it will cause more strain on your throat. If you’re serious about competing, you will need to be able to vape blends with 100% vegetable glycerin. Work up your tolerance slowly.
Airflow: Too much airflow and your clouds will come out thin. Too little and you risk overheating your vape. The lower the resistance is on your coil, the more airflow you will need. If this is a bit confusing, we suggest talking with someone at your vape shop about how to establish the right amount of airflow with your device.
Inhalation and Posture: Each vaper has their own set up that works best for them. From the speed and pull of the inhale, to how open their mouth is and how slumped over they are. All of these aspects of your inhalation and posture will have an effect on cloud quality and volume.
Wicks: Wicks represent another vital element to cloud chasing. The wick is the cotton or silica string or substrate that soaks up vape juice and feeds it to the coil, at which point it is then turned into vapor. Wick type, placement and material all impact cloud volume and quality.
There are a few different techniques and setups for wicks:
- Tuck the wick under the coil
- Tuck the wick behind the coil
- Clip the wick without tucking it
- Clip both ends of the wick to create a tail
What about smoke photography?
Could chasing is awesome. Why not share it with others online?
Whether you’re just getting started or have mastered a few techniques, sharing online can be a great way to build an audience, get inspiration from others, or simply share the enjoyment of your new hobby.
But taking professional-looking photos can be a bit intimidating. When looking at other Instagrammers’ cloud photos, you might be thinking that you can’t achieve these shots without a professional photographer.
Well, we’re here to tell you that you most certainly can!
It will take some time, patience, and practice, but we’re sure you will become Insta-famous in no time! There is no right or wrong way to photographing smoke, but there are a few tips and best practices you can implement to improve your chances of capturing just the right moment.
First and foremost, it is best to do smoke photography indoors. Why? Mainly because inside you’ll have greater control over lighting, backdrops, and most importantly, airflow. After all, you wouldn’t want a sudden gust of wind to ruin your perfect cloud.
Backdrop: Solid backgrounds work best. Typically go for either an extreme dark or extreme light background for contrast. The best color will be dependent on the color of your vape cloud.
Camera: You will need a camera that allows you to control the aperture, shutter speed, and zoom. We suggest a DSLR as these allow you to change these settings.
Flash: An off-camera flash is the best way to go here. Something like a wireless flash trigger or a flash cable will do.
Reflector: A reflector is recommended but not needed. This is so that you can ensure the smoke trail has an equal amount of light hitting from all angles.
Tripod: A tripod simply keeps your camera still and in one place, and you also won’t have to refocus for every shot.
Ventilation: Make sure you have a means of getting the air to exit the room. Too much air building up in the room will lower the quality of the photo, but too much and you may find that your cloud is being swept away by airflow.
- Hang your backdrop sheet and ensure there is no light coming through. Background light will pull focus away from the smoke and draw attention to the background. Light hitting your lens will also cause lens flares to appear in the image.
- You will want to position where the smoke will be, about three to five feet away from the backdrop.
- Place your flash about two to three feet away, on either the left or right side of the vapor.
- Then place your reflector on the opposite side of wherever your flash is placed.
- Lastly, set your camera and tripod about two to four feet away from you or where the smoke will be, facing the background.
Remember, there is no such thing as a perfect location for photographing clouds!
We strongly recommend indoors, but feel free to experiment with different locations!
Camera and flash Settings
Below are some important factors to consider as it pertains to flash and camera settings when snapping photos of vape clouds:
Aperture: You will want a nice depth of field to capture all the details in your smoke trail. We highly recommend using a small aperture (which means a larger f-stop number).
ISO: ISO stands for the International Organization of Standardization. ISO refers to the light sensitivity. With such a low amount of light, your smoke is likely to show up grain, and having a high ISO is only going to add to this. We recommend using a low ISO for your smoke photography.
Shutter Speed: Smoke is always moving (obviously) so you will need to have a fast shutter speed to avoid blurring.
Light: We recommend using your flash at full strength because a low ISO, small aperture, and fast shutter speed you will need a strong light to get the exposure right.
Recommended camera settings overview:
- Lens: 28-135 mm
- Mode: Manual
- Shutter Speed: 1/250 seconds
- Aperture: f/8 – f/16
- ISO: 100
- Focus: Manual
- White Balance: Auto
- Flash Output: Almost full power
Taking the perfect shot
With your equipment in hand and setup complete, it’s time to take the perfect shot. You will want to close all doors and windows in the room to prevent any air from whisking away your clouds. Too much air blowing and it will cause your clouds to move and make them are hard to capture. Additional air flow may also cause blurring from cloud animation.
You want the environment to be as stable as possible. However, if you want to get creative and change the direction and curves of the vapor you can use a small fan or other manual device to “puff” small spurts of air towards the clouds in order to manipulate the vapor as necessary.
We recommend turning out the lights in the room because any background light may interfere with the clouds of smoke.
Start with taking some test shots in order to get a feel for the environment. You want to underexpose the background and draw light to the smoke. Having the background as dark as possible is really going to help. Once you’ve played around with this a bit and have the exposure the way you want it, get creative and have some fun with the shots!
While we recommend closing all doors and windows to prevent air blowing, you will still want to ventilate the room every now and then. Too much smoke will make for bad photos and not to lecture, but it also probably isn’t the best for your health.
Last but not least, HAVE FUN and happy cloud chasing! And if you’re looking for a device to enjoy casual vaping, check out our Loto Legend. It’s an induction heating vape device and provides a clean, pure, and absolutely enjoyable vape session with your favorite concentrates or extracts.