Taken with a Canon Rebel T1i, ISO 200, f/5.0, 1/25 sec with 18-200mm lens. First contest submission ever! I ended up burning up to 6 incense sticks at once to get lots of smoke and I had trouble getting the right amount of light, but in the end, my work paid off.
-Chris Morey

The set-up is trivial: an industrial hot lamp (700wt) is shining at a
small angle from from below and the makeshift barn doors guard against
light leaks onto camera or the background scene. Black body paint is
smeared generously all over my face/hands and the face is positioned
primarily outside the narrow strip of light and is lit by an
additional hotlamp (100wt) from above. I'm shooting in my loft in a
long hallway where air turbulence is less hectic, so no background is
placed behind me. Smoke source is a pair of moxa sticks - thick
sticks used for heat applications in acupressure. They claim moxa
smoke is therapeutic so if I don't kick the bucket this week, I will
file a patent under alternative moxa therapy.


Now, the fun part.... It's a selfportrait and I'm using Canon G11, no
remote release so I gotta jump over my construction, collect moxa
smoke in my mouth and hold it still - smoke finds its was out on its
own, otherwise forcing it results in a foggy picture with no distinct
smoke traces. So here I am, jumping over the table, gasping some smoke
and palying paralyzed in front of the camera with hands over my eyes.
It was quite a view, I'm telling you, I'm pretty sure my moxa sticks
will have kickass stories to tell on the other side of the rainbow
bridge. I shot at 1/250, f3.5, ISO100.
-Chris Schween

Title: Strikeout.
Canon T2i
1/250, f 4.5, ISO 3200... and photoshop.

This challenge was quite the enterprise. I used candles to generate the smoke (incense did NOT work for me). For lighting, I used two desk lamps (one on each side of the candle). For my background, I used a black Ikea hamper.


After I got the smoke pictures right, I separately took pictures of the baseball. Later I edited it all in photoshop, including adding the motion blur to the balls and reducing brightness for the smoke pictures (so the background looked pitch black).
-Diego Jimenez

Shot with a Canon Rebel XS using a 50mm f1.8 lens. I lit the scene with two 200 watt lights, but even with that, to get a 1/250th of a second exposure properly lit, I had to shoot pretty wide open (f2.8 and ISO 400). We just got all our Halloween gear out of storage last week, and smoke seemed like it should work well with Halloween, so that was my inspiration. I originally tried joss sticks, but wasn't getting enough smoke, so I went with a thick wicked candle, and when I blew the flame out, it smoked quite a bit. The candle wouldn't fit in the skull's mouth, so I set it underneath, and the smoke was actually passing in front of the skull's face. But I liked how the smoke looked like it was flowing through the eye socket, so borrowing my composites knowledge from the previous challenge, and now the smoke's originating from inside the skull... And of course this was originally shot on black, but apparently both smoke & skulls look better when inverted :)
-Eric Kornblum

It was taken with my humble Nikon D40, with a Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G.
Shutter speed: 1/100th of a second
Aperture: f/3.2
ISO 400

I don't have an external flash, and nor did I have any incense. So, I was forced to use my desk lamp and matches. I had the match sit up on top of some SAT study books I had laying around and I placed my lamp underneath it, shining upwards, and I taped a black t-shirt to the wall. I first tried using candles but they only produced so much smoke. So when I moved to using matches, I let the match burn until it put itself out, releasing the smoke. My D40's 2.5 fps wasn't very helpful but it did the job. I probably lit some 30 matches in total and ended up with a only few shots I liked. I chose this one because it's not your usual smoke photo. In Photoshop I only altered the levels a little bit and brought it down to a bluer tone on Curves. I even went and bought some incense the next day and tried it again but those photos turned out exactly like any other photo you'd find in a Google search.
-Fernando Gomes

D300s with Nikkor 50mm
1/250th of a second at f/1.4
ISO: 400

This is my first time submitting to the shooting challenge, and while fiddling around with some smoke images, my girlfriend coaxed me into making this rose because the mirrored smoke resembled one. So, here goes nothing... the only touch-up work here is the tinting, mirroring, and I blended one leaf onto the stem. Thanks for having this challenge.
-Greg Auerbach

Camera: Nikon D700, all manual settings, including manual focus.
Lens: Nikon 105mm f/2.8 VR Macro
Exposure: 1/30 of a second at f/10 at ISO 1000.
Lighting: A Lumo Pro LP-160 on a lightstand with a Honl 8" speed snoot, triggered by a PocketWizard.
Smoke Source: Incense.


The ISO setting was a mistake, I foolishly didn't check it before I took the picture. I've recently been experimenting with off-camera flash for portraits, so when I saw this challenge, I had a pretty good idea of what to do. I made sure the ambient exposure was dark (not hard indoors at f/10), and that the flash was pointed directly towards the incense stick, perpendicular to the camera, in order to minimize contamination of the background and maximize contrast. I was shocked to see that the first frame came out very well. I experimented with creating air currents until I was able to capture a coherent pattern, and here you have it. I boosted the saturation to accentuate the blue of the flash and rotated the image in Lightroom, but otherwise what you see is pretty close to what came out of the camera.
-Jason Sundram

I used a pretty standard setup for shooting smoke. Draped black sheet as the background, put my 580EX on the table next to the burning mosquito coil (the smoke source). I used a piece of cardboard behind the flash to shield it from hitting the background. Took about two dozen shots. I noticed some of the shots have a warn hue on the left side, probably from the cardboard. Instead of correcting it I decided to enhance the saturation. Also adjusted levels. I like this one because it looks like an alien fashion model.
Canon 7D with 50mm lens, manual mode, 1/200s, f/5.6, ISO 400
-Lin Dunsmore

Camera: Nikon D70s
Lens: AF-S Nikkor 18-70mm
ISO: 200
Flash: SB-800
Lighting: Side lit w/reflector, flagged black background
Subject: Incense smoke


The story:
The attached photo is one of over 3,000 images that I shot. This was the first time I tried photographing smoke. Upon viewing the image, it instantly reminded me of Dino from the Flinstones. The most difficult part of capturing the image was waiting for the smoke to do something interesting. I attempted to manipulate it, but it would refuse to obey and I was sort of at its whim. I stayed there for hours with a flashlight pointing at the smoke and waiting for it to do something...every now and then it would get into a good mood and "pose" for me. I guess it was in a prehistoric mood at the time I shot this image.
-Luke Artiaga

Did not want to miss out on another opportunity with your shooting challenge and this challenge is something I always wanted to perform. Using a Canon XSI, EF-S 28-105mm f/5.6 1/200 ISO 400 and Speedlight 430 EX II 1/16 with a generic remote trigger from eBay. Used the cone incense with a black felt background. Processed with Aperture 3 with Color Efex Pro 3 for give the color effects.
-Marvin Goda

Device model: Canon 50D
Color space: RGB
Focal length : 135
F number : 5.6
Exposure time : 1/80


I'm Sasanka, an amateur photographer. I carry a canon 50D and i don't have adequate lighting equipment. So, I used a desk lamp for this shot. Hence you can see lighting fading across the frame but after photoshop it was not bad.
-Sasanka Pedapudi

Initially wanted to try multiple flashes to capture separate smoke streams but always ended up blowing out the smoke highlights. So I just stuck to single flashes per shot.


3 joss sticks
bulb setting and remote
30mm, f2.5, 2 secs, iso 100
off camera flash to freeze smoke
Canon 50D
sigma 30mm 1.4
-Toan Tran