General notes:

  • is clearly the master of this genre. You can find some good info on this thread too.
  • Smoke is from incense sticks purchased from the local megastore. Florasense brand, Rain Forest scent, but I don't think the specifics matter. The only other option was patchouli scent, and I refuse to stink up my crib with patchouli :-)
  • Camera is 4-5 feet in front of the incense
  • Black fleece blanket is hanging approximately 6' behind the incense.
  • Room is dark. Only light is from the flash, which is either behind/below or to the right/below
  • Gear is Canon Digital Rebel XT body, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens, Vivitar 283 Flash unit with the thyristor removed. In the future I'll need to put the thyristor back in... there is some slight blur because of the flash duration (approximately 1/750 second)
  • F-stop was f/11 to f/16 (I was experimenting)
  • ISO 100
  • Bulb shutter. Actually, I set the shutter 1/2 second, used a remote cable, then manually hit my flash a fraction of a second after hitting the shutter release. I'll probably use my timing computer for this in the future, but I wanted to try it manually to verify that no special gear was needed.
  • Getting the smoke trail to swirl nicely is an exercise left to the reader. Let's just say I have a trick that gets my "nice swirl" percentage up to about 25%, which is better than the 5-10% I got when I simply shot at random time intervals :-).
  • Click on the images below to see larger versions.

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