Camera: Olympus
Model: E-P1
F-stop: 5.5
Exposure Time: 1/400
ISO: 200
Lens: 14-42 M.Zuiko
Light: 1 x flood light approx:400W

This is my first shooting challenge (and a new camera) and it was
actually much harder than I first thought! I totally underestimated
the amount of light that you need to get a good picture of smoke. I
was thinking of a subject matter and by chance I had to move the
toaster, for some reason a light went off in my head and I thought
bingo, burnt toast = smoke!
So after putting one of the last bits of bread we had in the toaster I
waited... and waited... and finally smoke! I used a flood light that I
normally use to work on my car and it did an OK job but really I
needed two more and on some stands! I also used a burst shooting mode
so I could catch the toast popping out of the toaster... that didn't
work so well!


Now all I have to do is explain the huge amounts of smoke and why it
smells like burnt toast to my housemate when he gets back and remember
to put all the damn smoke decetor batteries back!
-Adam Clash

I was ask to go take pictures at a friends birthday party. Shot at night a outside a fire lamp, with my Rebel XTI on program with an old canon flash.
-Alvin Vera

Taken with a Nikon D80, 28-80mm F/3.5-3.6 D at a focal length of 52mm and a slave flash for side lighting and built in camera flash for slave trigger. ISO: 200, Shutter Speed: 1/60s, Aperture: F/4.8


Adjusted Brightness and Curves to adjust for front flash lighting on background. Sharpened and increased contrast. Increased overall saturation levels and adjusted to color smoke. Set all color specific saturations at -100 (except blue) to remove the color from the hand.

This image was originally titled "Splash". I loved the way it the smoke "dripped" through my fingers, but the sideways images was most striking to me. After a day of reflecting (and obsessing) about this image, by roleplaying background decided to rear its head and I changed the title to "Mana" for the magic used in most systems.
-Amber Psautti

This was shot with a canon t2i and the stock 18-55mm IS lens at ISO 1600. I shot it at the highest possible res then edited in MS paint (too cheap for PS). This was my first time entering the shooting challenge so I didnt want to go crazy with this shot. I took about forty pictures and then realized that if I shot upwards into the light I was using I got a cool effect where the smoke rose from light to dark. So after around twenty more shots I chose this one. By the way the light I was using for this shot was a 8 year old reading light and the black background was created by hanging a black fleece jacket on a music stand which I then put behind the smoke.
-Andre Vogel

"Freedom by Fire"

Shot with a Nikon D90 with a 50mm prime lens. I used an f-stop of 1.8 with a 1/500 shutter speed.

Cleaning out our filing cabinet, my wife and I found a bunch of old checkbooks. We didn't want to just throw them into the trash. My wife is a bit of a pyro, so she decided to burn all of them in our firepit. As I was sitting out there with her, I was able to take a couple of photos. This was the best of the bunch.
-Andrew Carrigo

Shooting Info: Sony A550 at f/20, 1/80 sec., ISO-200 through Sigma 50mm Macro Lens with External Flash


I've done plenty of smoke shots with single incense sticks but tried four at once this time, and tried getting the sticks themselves in frame as well. Generally the smoke got too busy. I got the best results when blowing the smoke out of the way for a few seconds and capturing the recovering streams of smoke. Ext. flash was positioned to the right, with a mirror placed to the left reflecting back some of the light. In Photoshop I tinted the upper and lower portions of the smoke to achieve a sort of flame effect. Wife was not happy with the smell of the house afterward.
-Ben Torode

Canon EOS 7D
f/8, 1/250 sec, ISO-100, focus length: 59 mm, camera flash used
Taken with a Canon Powershot S90, 1/30 second at f/5.o, ISO all the way up to 3200. Standard home studio set-up, with a black cloth backdrop and the brightest lights I had at home, a couple of triple-bulb LED reading lamps (no external flash).
-Brian Hall

Canon EOS Rebel T1i
Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens
Incense stick
Black poster board


It took quite a while to figure this one out, but eventually I decided on a flashlight shining sideways through the smoke trail of a burning incense stick as my only source of light. Neither the overheard fluorescents nor the on-camera flash were really giving any contrast with either a black or white background. Getting enough light into the camera was a definitely challenge, but ISO 3200, f/4.5, and 1/20sec seemed to work. I wish I could have had a faster shutter speed, but 1/40sec was just too dark and I didn't want to shrink the depth of field any further. Once I started getting images it was just a matter or taking lots of pictures and hoping for the best.

To get my final image I just cropped out the incense stick, and then duplicated and flipped the layer. Finally, I shifted the color toward purple to make the smoke seem a little more ominous. I think it kind of looks like a monster coming out of the shadows...or possibly the cover art for the next Black Sabbath album.
-Chuck DeLuca

"Dorm Room Shenanigans"
I don't have a wallpaper sized photo to submit
Nikon D5000, stock 18-55 mm lens, auto mode.
Not quite sure why the flash didn't go off in this picture but it looks better than the others.
Set up a firecracker in the hallway of my room, set up my laser pointer about 5-6" above the firecracker to catch the smoke and highlight it.
-Cody Clarke

Canon XSI with 50mm 1.8
ISO: 100
Aperture: 1.8
Shutter: 1/13 SEC

Just scotch and a cigar.
-David Getchel

Trying to get enough light on this burning stick of incense proved to be more difficult than I though. By the time this photo was taken it was lit by A desk lamp, (2) iPhone 4 LED flashes, a Photon LED light, and a Kodak reel to reel projector aimed at the smoke. Looking back, I should have had the room darker, unfortunately I can't reshoot, it is way to late and I'm all out of incense. Shot with my Canon 20D, fixed 200mm @ ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/80 . Because I did not have a black background or a well enough lit smoke source, I was unable to process this as I would have like. I am happy that I still have a submission this week, and with the knowledge I gained from this shoot.
-David Nemerson

Canon T2i
ISO 800

After my friend complained about me not photographing him being "BA" I begrudgingly took my camera out and ended up with about a hundred or so pictures that came out rather spectacularly. This was actually a bit more challenging to shoot than it would first appear, as the spark from the welder is actually much brighter than the sun and quite dangerous to look at. So most of what I shot was composed and shot fairly "blind" or pre-composed.
-Donald Campbell

Shot with a Canon Rebel XSI, Sigma 17-70mm 2.8-4 Macro HSM Lens @ 46mm, ISO 100, Shutter Speed 200, Aperture f/16.


Originally, I was going to try shooting the smoke alone, but when i was setting up the camera all the smoke from the incense i used started to annoy me.I found a clear plastic cup and covered it. It looked really cool when I released it so I got a few shots of the plastic cup before deciding to get a fancier looking martini glass.The incense didn't create as much smoke as i wanted. Trapping it in a glass and releasing it worked out a lot better and made focusing easier.
-Esmer Olvera

Pentax K-X, Tamron 90mm Macro lens. F-4, ISO-800, 1/30th sec exposure.

I didn't have enough light so had to use pretty much opposite settings to the ones recommended. I set up in my garage as I didn't want any wind and used an incense stick as the smoke source. I put my macro lens light directly under the chilli and another table lamp off to the right which was aimed at the smoke. I set up my black snowboard behind as it has some interesting patterns and I thought they might look good, but they didn't come out. First I took a picture with no smoke, then started shooting with the smoke. After taking a load of shots I chose my favourite and layered it on top of the no smoke one in Photoshop. I then used the eraser tool to rub out the small section of smoke under the chilli to give the false impression that it was the chilli smoking and not coming from a source underneath it. I didn't use a flash as it reflected off the shiny snowboard behind. I wish I had more light so I could have used a higher shutter speed and lower ISO.
-Gary Gray

Canon XSi, 18-55mm, f3.5, 100 ISO. + a Flash behind the scene.

I took this shot with a Nikon D3000, f 5.6 and ISO 1/100 and no flash. It was taken in my friend's garage with a floor mat as the black background, color-changing professional show lights as our light source, and Joss sticks (borrowed spur-of-the-moment from our Chinese friend's restaurant) producing the smoke. Because the lights weren't super bright we had a hard time getting pictures that weren't blurry, and we didn't use a tri-pod. This was definitely a group effort- one person holding up the back drop, one person aiming the lights, one person holding the incense and then me as the photographer. The shots we took with more billowy, full puffs of smoke weren't very clear or defined, so I chose this one because of the smooth stream of smoke, the color (my favorite) and the spacey-vibe from the light. If you look closely, the smoke looks like a smiley face with two faint puffs above the larger curve.
-Hannah Nofsinger

For this I used my D5000 with a 55-200 VR lens at 102mm, Iso ~ 100 and a shutter speed of 1/250. I chose this shot because I think that the smoke looks like it's dancing. Bought enough light bulbs deserving of the weird looks this afternoon, found out that it can be rather difficult to break a bulb while saving the filament and the shot was taken around 12:15 at night in the basement, (which may very well be haunted...) Safe? Meh, Fun, Yes.
-Harvey Taylor

Canon EOS 7D, f/8, 1/250 sec, ISO-100, focus length: 59 mm, camera flash used

I placed a cardboard on the background and lit it up with a big lamp so you could see the dark shadowy smoke pop up nice and smooth. I burned, you can see a little flame in the picture, dark den wood which made some real black smoke. Now I don't have to smoke for at least 10 years, but it was worth the experience J I did used the camera flash, but I needed to improvise a soft box to avoid any shadows in the background.
-Ismael Tan

Equipment used: Nikon D5000 set at F/8.0, Shutter speed of 1/200s, ISO of 100 and a focal length of 145mm. I used photoshop CS5 to add the silver color as seen in the picture. This was the second shot I've done with smoke and I really liked how it came out. My setup for this was a black card background held up by a clamp and a piece of wood, a speedlight shot through a white umbrella, an incense stick and a tray to catch the ashes.
-James Ferrell

"The Tiki Lord"

I recently received this wooden tiki statue from a friend who visited Hawaii. I was photographing it and loved the reddish sheen that shows up under low light. I set up an incense stick inside the tiki's mouth and waited for the smoke to curl around its head.
Nikon D90, Nikon 50mm, 1/60 sec. f/11, ISO 200, using an off-camera SB-600.
-Jeff Faria

Shot this with a Canon Rebel XT with a very old Lester Dine 105mm macro lens, the kind that doesn't have any auto focus or any electronic components for that matter. The light I used was with a cowboy studio light with a softbox. I have a 24-105mm F4 L Canon lens but for whatever reason it decided not to cooperate with my camera as soon as everything was setup so I switched to this Lester Dine macro as the next best lens. Unfortunately due to having to set the aperture manually it made it very difficult to do that and manually focus the lens at the same time. Anyway great contest, I learned a lot, hopefully will be able to get some better ones once the lens contacts on my L series lens starts to like me again.
-Jeff Hills

To make my smoke picture, I used a Canon Rebel XT and a 50 mm lens at f/8, ISO 400, and 1/250 sec. To light it, I used a LumoPro 160 flash with a homemade gridded snoot on camera right and placed a black board behind the smoke. To make the smoke, I burned some foul smelling incense and occasionally blew on it to create air flow. Post processing was done in Photoshop.
-Joe Russo

Canon XSi with Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro.
1/200 sec @ f/6.3
ISO 100
manual focus

Setup was a single incense stick with two flashes (LP120 and SB-20) at right and left a few inches away from the stick and slightly below the frame, fired at an upward angle with a green gel on the right strobe and a red gel on the left one. The background is a cardboard box with a black cloth over it about a foot and a half away. Everything was sitting on my dining room table, and I had the dining room light on, otherwise I had no hope of getting the focus right. But at those settings the cloth easily stayed black. The colors are straight out of camera, but I did some basic contrast, exposure and noise reduction adjustments in lightroom. I originally tried to shoot this on a white background, but was not successful in getting the smoke to stand out. The white smoke blended in with the white background. After getting a couple shots with white smoke on black background, I realized it really needed something else, and added the two gels to give the image another dimension. The hardest part of this shot was finding a place near me that sells incense. I ended up going to a "make your own candle" shop. The incense advertised that it burns for 45 mins. I spent the first 2 thirds of that time figuring out my setup and the last third actually taking potential shots. The one I'm submitting is the very last shot I took, and I think it's the strongest.
-Joe Simons

Nikon D90
45mm (35mm equivalent)
ISO 250

I hadn't intended to participate in the challenge but then I stumbled upon my "Zero Blaster" smoke ring toy gun in the back of a closet. After a quick change of batteries I was up and running shooting smoke. I shot the "Blaster" rings across the front of the lens and set the remote flash to fire upwards into the smoke . The rings travel quickly across the frame so it took about 100 shots to get a few nicely framed and lit rings after trying a few different angles.
-Joe Sugden

Photo was taken with a Nikon D300s DSLR
1/80 sec.
18 mm

My girlfriend Jessica Bartek and I set up this shot. We set up a door in the creek to create a reflection, using a broken broom stick to prop it up. Behind the door is an external light triggered wirelessly via Pocket Wizard transmitter. There is another light on the right side of the door to light up the front face of the door from the side. Also behind the door we set off two smoke bombs.


The concept behind the image is the idea of a supernatural unknown. The smoke gives a eerie vibe while the light represents "going into the light". The door represents the unknown as no one knows what is on the other side just as no one knows what happens when we die.
-Josh Trolio

Equipment - Canon T2i and the Kit Ef-s 18-55mm lens, Yongnuo Yn460 Speedlite off Ebay with some DIY diffusers, and My cheapy tripod from London drugs

I used ISO 100 shutter speed 1/200 at f/8 and 37mm Focal Length

I have always wanted to submit to your shooting challenges but am always putting it off. I had just watched a tutorial not a week before this contest was announced on taking photo's of smoke off of incense. I saw the video and the name of this weeks challenge and thought...HMMM plain smoke streams are boring. I glanced up while sitting in my den and saw my dorky Star Wars Toys and thought that Darth Vaders mask with smoke bellowing out would be COOOOL. So I did just that I used the basic guide lines of the smoke tutorial and started taking pictures. I ended up using an orange DIY diffuser (I think I saw the plans on Giz or Lifehacker) I made from Orange foamy paper which I never thought I would use this soon. Was a fun as heck little shoot! I am unsure how licensed things like this fit into your challenges let alone portrait orientation photo's but I thought this was worth submitting!
-Joshua Maurer

Shooting Summary:
Camera: Canon T1i
Lens: Canon 18-200 IS
ISO: 800, Shutter: 1/320, Aperture: F5.6, Format: RAW, Full M & MF.


I decided to call this "Smoke Under Water." I was reading about the photography challenge while making a cup of Roselle Tea. I had never had Roselle tea before (turns out, I don't really like it), but to my surprise, when I dropped the tea bag in the hot water, it looked a lot like it was smoking, downwards. The Roselle tea had such a strong color, and created these great swirling waves of color, that I decided to duplicate the tea making while shooting. I used a clear plastic bottle with hot water inside. I turned on all the ceiling lights in the room plus put a desk lamp directly over the bottle (you guys were right about needing more light), dropped the tea bag in and started shooting. Before I knew it, the water was full on dark red. I managed about 45 shots in that brief time period. Hope you all like it. Thanks!
-JT McGrath

So I was outside trying to set up a complicated smoke picture. Which was
not working out. I was getting discouraged, when I looked up and saw 'real'
smoke off in the hills. I wish that the day would have been brighter. I
used my little Olympus e-PL1 set at F/11, 1/320 sec and an ISO of 400
-Kay Owens

Equipment: Rebel T1i with EF-S 18-55mm lens, two Lumopro LP160 flashes. ISO 200, f 4.5, 1/200 sec.


I set out to try and do this challenge without photoshopping the smoke. I used a Joss Stick and two flashes: one to light the scene in general, and one with a red filter on it to light up the smoke. The Joss stick was placed right in front of the didgeridoo (bet you don't have one of those lying around the house!) to make it seem as though that is where the smoke was coming from. I used a snoot on the red flash to not flood the scene with red which led to the nice effect of the smoke changing colors mid-flight.
-Kitt Turner

"The Temptation of Buddha"
-Shot with a Canon 40D, Tamron 28-75 mm f/2.8 XR Di lens
-1/1250 shutter at f/4.5, ISO 500 (Buddha image)
-1/160 shutter at f/6.3, ISO 1000 (smoke temptresses)
-Three separate images composited in Photoshop CS3; used sunlight as light source for all three images, plus boyfriend's white T-shirt as reflector and dark shorts to block unwanted reflections; black dress used as background
-Incense sticks provided smoke (burned two at a time for more intense smoke)
-Smoke and highlights/shadows from smoke colored blue in Photoshop


I was inspired by the feminine qualities of the smoke, which led to the idea of portraying the smoke as "temptresses." The opposite of lust and temptation, a figurine of Buddha provided a warm contrast to the icy apparitions. He remains calm and introspective, paying no heed to the transient specters.
-Kristina Jacinth

I used a 5D Markii, 24-105L and an Alien Bee B400 shot through a softbox to achieve this shot. I chose pink because it's breast cancer awareness month.
-Kyle Ford

After finally learning how to properly burn the incense (thank you YouTube kids), I took over 300 photos of these whimsical smoke ribbons. My equipment consisted of a cardboard box, dark towel draped as background, and four 40W lamps pointed at the smoke. Needless to say, the room looked really strange... Then narrowed my favorites to two. I edited each in GIMP, combined them, and had one last edit on colours in the iPhone app called PhotoWizard. Olympus E-510, 14-42mm, 1/250 & 1/320, F5.6, ISO 200
-Lea Chambers

Shot this little gem by my grandmas house in Lake Tahoe with the default camera on my iPhone 3GS. Her neighbor was burning some slash from trees the forest service fell last week. The smell added a lot of depth too the applewood bacon i ingested before i left.
-Lee Welsch

Sony DSC-HX1, f/2.8, 1/4s, ISO 200
After following Gizmodo for some time I found interesting the photography challenges and decided to apply this time. Got my camera, lit up a inscence stick, however the smoke coming from the match caught my eye. Got a cardboard and took some shots.
-Luca Leite

The day the challenge was announced I went to my local farmers' market to do some photography and talk with some of the sellers. One lady was nice enough to give me a few peppers to sample. After I got home, I thought this would be the perfect thing to use for a smoke pic. This photo is shot with a Canon 7D, Sigma 50mm 1.4 lens. Shutter was at 1/250s and aperture was f/9.0. To light, I used an off camera 580ex II flash placed camera left and bounced onto an 9 foot white ceiling. The peppers were placed on a 1'x1' glossy granite tile and the background is black art board. I had a friend light a series of matches hidden behind them and then had him blow them out while I snapped a few shots of the billowing smoke that rose afterward. After that I used Photoshop to tweak levels, contrast, brightness, and colored the smoke via a photo filter and a hue/saturation adjustment layers.
-Lynn Chyi

Camera : Canon 7D
Lens : Canon 24-70mm f/2.8
ISO : 400
Aperture : f/9.5
Shutter Speed 1/250
Focal Length : 32mm
Flash : Canon 580 ex2
Softbox : Honl Photo Traveller


I was shooting the most boring thing in the world (still clothes for my brand), and during my cigarette break, I read about this contest !
Perfect timing since I already had the cigarette in my mouth and the camera in my hands.
The confusion created by the smoke/nose/beard at first glance gives this picture an interesting effect.
-Mario Velloso

I used a Canon Rebel XSi, the shutter was set to 1/100, f5.6 and the ISO to 400. It took several hours to get an image, the only pieces of professional equipment I have are umbrella lamps. I started with two lamps and a flash, but just got one big white image, I even tried turning off all the lights, focusing on the tip of the incense and then firing off some shots blindly. In the end, I turned on one lamp, bounced my flash off the wall and got this!
-Marisa Soto

Canon xsi
Canon 50mm f22 1/250 sec ISO 200

Taped a black piece of paper on the wall, lit some incense below it and used a remote trigger on a canon speedlight to freeze the smoke from below. I played around with color as suggested, but found that the black and white image had a lot more impact.
-Mark Lee

Used my old point and shoot, Canon PowerShot SD600. Set to manual (as "manual" as this camera can do) for exposure compensation +2. Smoke was created with an incense stick, a desk lamp and on camera flash for lighting.
-Matt Sills

Camera: Canon Rebel XS w/ Kit Lens
F-Stop: 100

This was a lot of fun to try to create. The room was completely black except for a mag-lite my husband had suspiciously given me (let's face it...a camera, incense, a black backdrop and mag-lites ARE a somewhat odd combo). I used a black piece of fabric for the background and snapped away. These were my three favorite wisps, so I combined them in photoshop, inverted them, and gave them their color. Definitely one of my favorite photos I've taken so far.
-Megan Allen

Canon Eos Rebel XS + 18-55mm Kit Lens
1/200s F/5.6 ISO-400
Built in flash fired

The only thing I found readily available to create smoke was a couple of sparklers. I tried taking pictures with various backdrops, but each backdrop showed too much detail so eventually I decided to shoot against the night sky. Since the flash in my camera is relatively weak, It didn't light up any trees or anything behind the smoke. It was pretty hard to get a good smoke shot since I couldn't see the smoke in the dark, the wind kept changing direction, and I had to wait for the flash to recharge each time. After I got one that I liked, I added a gradient map in Photoshop to give it a flame-type look.
-Nick Cheng

"Yin + Yang"

Camera - Nikon D70 (soon upgrading to a D7000)
Lens - Nikon Nikkor f/2.8 80-200mm Manual Lens @ f/2.8
ISO - 400
F-Stop - f/5.6
Shutter - 1/250s
Focal Length - 120mm
Post-Processing - Adobe CS5, mirrored image, inverted colors, desaturated, resaturated with a gradient.


I was always interested in smoke photography, back in high school, I studied the ins and outs very thoroughly and I ended up making my own rig using strobes with makeshift snoots. I decided to try my luck with it again. An incense cone was used as the smoke provider for this one, and I had the photo taken in a completely dark room. I used crossing strobes with my good old paper snoot idea from back in high school to aim the flashes and limit diffusion. Upon completion of my photoshoot, I walked out of the room with red eyes from all of the smoke. I then uploaded the photos into photoshop; then had my way with them. Once I was finished, I made a print, and since the printer prints out the photo upside-down, I saw the demon head looking at me. I'm kind of weird in the sense that I thought this was one of the coolest things ever...and still do. I still use the peaceful orientation of the photo initially just so people can experience the effect I first had when seeing the photo upside-down.
-Nick Page

My setup was an empty Bulleit bourbon bottle heavily duct taped to my
kitchen counter at an angle, a shot glass suspended upside down from a
string and microphone stand, black poster paper taped to my cabinets
as the backdrop, individual strobes on the left and right using paper
snoots, and an incense stick lined up behind the bottle. Once the
frame was set and the strobes lined up, I lit the incense and used
cheap radio units to fire the flashes. This was my first time trying
manual strobe settings, and I quickly overheated them (full 1/1 power)
and had to stop for the night. Luckily, this was one of the five
successful shots of the bottle I was able to get. The "liquid line" in
the bottle is actually the incense stick - I colored the lower half in
post-editing while inverting/flipping the image. Nikon D90 and
18-200mm lense @ f10, 1/250, ISO 200, 105mm.
-Nick Sprankle

Camera: Canon 5D Mk2
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM
Focal Length: 30mm
ISO: 400
Aperture: f/5.0
Exposure: 10 sec.


I took this shot at an "Old West" themed playground late at night. I had my friend stand behind the train's smokestack while pointing a flashlight in the air and throwing sand over the flashlight's beam. I wanted to get some kind of cool smoke effect for this contest, but it turned out a little different than I planned. I still think it looks pretty cool and since smoke can take on any shape, I think it still applies.
-Nolan Gaudreau

Nikon d700 w/ 70-200mm 2.8F
Shot at 130mm, 1/250sec, f8, iso100
Vivitar 285HV at 1/4 power (positioned right side of the smoke)
Triggered with cybersync
Black poster board background


I originally had the idea of just having the shot filled with smoke rings, but as I was looking through the shots on my computer, I realized that a number of them were shaped like jellyfish. I decided to scratch the rings theme and go with the jellyfish idea. My girlfriend, who helped with the smoke rings, then said, "Why not have both the rings and the jellyfish?" I thought for a bit on how both could be incorporated...I hope you like the result!
-Perry Chung

Camera: Nikon D50
Lens: Nikkor 50mm f/1.8
Flash: Nikon SB-800 connected with SB-28
1/20 sec
ISO 200


I dropped matches into an empty .50 caliber shell and pretty much held down the shutter until smoke stopped coming out. This one is take 79 of 148. My flash was below and to the right. I probably would have played around with it a bit more, but my mom started complaining that I was stinking up the house so I had to quit.
-Quentin Swager

Camera Nikon: D300s
ISO: 2000
f stop: 11.0
Focal Length 50mm

I have always wanted to try out smoke photography, so thought I should give it a go.
I used incense sticks for the smoke as they give a decent amount of smoke. I really love the different shapes that the smoke gives off.
I used my Nikon D300s with a 50mm prime attached on a tripod with a cable release and all shot in RAW. The set up was the back of my duvet for the black background, a table lamp to the left and a SB600 flash (in commander mode and triggered via on-board flash) to the right. Both the flash and the lamp had black card attached to them via rubber bands to prevent light spilling on to the background, to make the light focus more on the smoke itself. I took about 200 images in total and have had a great time playing about with them. (inverting, changing the colour of the smoke etc)
Images taken into Bridge where I increased the black to give the image more contrast and also remove any light spillage on to the background. Then into Photoshop to remove dust picked up by the flash and increase the canvas size and flip, invert and colour image. Annoyed that I forgot to reset my ISO (would have had it set to 100 normally) from the previous day…..doh.
-Richard Gailey

Nikon D300
Focal length: 200
F Stop: 5.6
Exposure: 1/500

So I was trying to get a photo with smoke in a bubble. However, trying to set the camera timer, take a drag, dunk the tube, and then attempt to stand within focus... Needless to say it wasn't really working out that well, so I called for some help from my fabulous wife. My next problem was trying to decide between a bubble explosion with smoke or a bubble full of smoke. Upon review of all my photos I saw this wonderful little vortex and decided this had to be my submission.
-Rico Nolan

Camera: Olympus E-PL1 w/ Kit zoom @ 35mm f6.7 @ 1/60
Lights: dual lowel ego's each with 2 5500K 26W bulbs, plus 2 6500K 26W "daylight" clamp lights
PostProc: lightroom, croped left and right, and used split toning to change the hue.


Smoke Angel
While I got a few "better" shots, with better defined smoke and more contrast, I liked this one best due to the "angel".
I quickly learnt that the biggest trick was getting the contrast between the smoke and background.
My second shoot I put a couple yards of black fabric down my bookshelf, and had that 5 foot behind my coffee table.
My lighting limited me a bit, as I couldn't use the depth of field I wanted, but got a few nice shots, mostly with the Panasonic 20mm lens.
I found there was an art to getting the air still enough, so the smoke didn't drift in any one direction too much, and getting the smoke to not fall down again onto my "stage".
I also learnt to place the incense down - or really the lights/camera up - so some books from my bookshelf came in handy for that too.
-Riki June

I set some incense burning on top of my dining room table underneath the Ikea chandelier. I figured the LEDs in the fixture would be bright & focused enough to work with the smoke. I took a lot of pictures because I wasn't sure once I saw the finished product if I'd like the contrast between the geometrical light fixture & some very organic smoke trails or if I'd prefer a strong, straight smoke trail to go along with the geometry of the fixture. In the end I chose an organic shape. The only alteration was to brighten the image. I set my Pentax K-x to aperture priority at f5.6 per the suggestions in the link & that led to a really dark background so I wanted to lighten it to show the actual colors of the room. Yes, the one wall in my dining room really is that orange but somehow the other wall (which is a boring, Navajo White) came out orangey too.
-Robin Rigby

There's been a terrible accident. I don't know how it happened.The safety was on, and I didn't think it was loaded. We were just playing around and then... there's a huge mess. I don't know what to do. Someone, please help.
Gear: Nikon D90, Nikon 18-200mm VR-II, Nikon SB600 in remote mode
Settings: 1/100th sec, f/11, ISO200, 24mm, The flash was fired in TTL Auto, so I'm not sure what power it actually used.
-Ryan Powers

Shot with my Nikon D5000 stock lens, Full Manual mode, 3200 Iso, 1/250 shutter speed, F stop 8.0, 55mm zoom. I only have the flash on the camera so I set up a black t shirt in my window area, angled with the sun light. Shot about 300 pictures, and then stared at them for three hours, lol. Finally my boyfriend said, hey that one looks like a flower! So I then meshed my incense smoke pictures together till I came up with some cool looking flowers. Changed the hue/saturation to the colors I wanted. Was still looking plain so I added the neat mirror image!
-Sam Katz

Shooting Summary: Nikon D3000, 18-55, ISO-200, f/5.6, 1/60 sec.

Well this is my first time submitting to the photo challenge, and what a fun way to start off! I set up my little "studio" in a small corner of my kitchen with a heavily ironed pillow cover as my back drop, incense sticks and an adjustable desk light as my lighting. After a little bit of tweaking and testing out different angles of lighting, I started to get a hang of the process. While it hurt my back and I smelled of incense for the rest of the day, it was a great experience and I can't wait to do more!
-Sravya Nallaganchu

I thought i'd have a bit of fun with this shot and try to incorporate the smoke into a scene. It was more difficult then i had expected. Sometimes the smoke would look great and my lighting would be off, other times the smoke was totally out of picture and everything else looks great. This one turned out the best.
-Stephen Galpin

I used a sony a350 camera with a 16-105mm zoom lens and an external flash and used a black bed sheet for the back drop.
The settings were ISO 200, 50mm zoom, f/5, 1/250.


The inspiration behind this picture is the idea that drinking and smoking are both social activities that are often done at the same time, so I wondered, how it would look if the two got confused?
-Tim Nummy

Camera: Nikon D3000 - Lens: Nikkor 18-55
Iso 100 - f 5.6 - 1/250 Camera set to RAW, tweaked exposure and saturation in PSD.


That was a pretty hard one - first, I tried to figure out how to produce smoke. I ended up with some rolling tobacco which I burnt in a little bowl. I used matches to keep the tobacco burning, blowing into the bowl to keep the smoke going. Problem was, the tobacco didn't burn that well, so by the time I stopped blowing the smoke stopped as well. I felt like a scout trying to make fire. Lighting was a desk-lamp.

By the end of the shooting I was concerned that the firefighters might show up once I open up the window to let the smoke out. My apartment was all hazy and I realized that breathing was kinda hard. Which makes me realize that smoking is really bad and I really should stop doing it :)
-Urs Brauchli

Three different shots taken with a Canon 5d mark ii, 24-105mm lens and a speedlite 430exii flash off camera. I had my camera set at 105mm, 1/200sec, f/10 and ISO320. After a few failed attempts using a candle, I made a special trip out to the local grocery store to buy a pack of incense. I played around with where to hold my flash, blinded my boyfriend a few times and finally came up with a few photos that I really liked. I adjusted exposure, brightness and hue/saturation and finally merged these 3 shots in Photoshop.
-Winnie Tsui

Name: Zac Mansfield
Camera: Canon 5D MarkII
Lens: 24-70mm 2.8/f
ISO: 100
shutter: 1/500
Aperture: 2.8/f


This was one of my ideas for the smoke challenge. I had a friend hold a 1/4" irrigation line in his hand while we blew cigarette smoke through the line. He held his hand up against a softbox and let the smoke ooze out between his fingers. I also added a little bit of sepia look in Photoshop.
-Zac Mansfield

Canon 7D
EF 85mm f/1.8
ISO: 640
1/250 sec at f / 4.5
Off camera strobe 430ex
Underlit by lamp (I love lamp)


After almost setting my living room on fire, here is my final smoke shot. The two tone smoke is natural and the image is straight from the camera with a slight blacks tweak. The colors are probably a result of the inks on the corrugate I burned. Only after the fact did I think to burn a stick of incense for more controlled smoke, oh well, I had fun and scared the neighbors in the process.
-Zachary Tolbert