Photographing the Perfect Plume of Smoke Requires Thousands of Tries

Illustration for article titled Photographing the Perfect Plume of Smoke Requires Thousands of Tries

Talk about an ethereal subject. Pure smoke is about as intangible and unpredictable as anything you could think of putting in front of your camera. These beautifully frozen images were the result of literally thousands of attempts by photographer Thomas Herbrich.

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Herbrich set up a high speed flash and fired his shots at a shutter speed of 1/10,000 firing at 1/10,000 of a second to freeze the undulating white formations of smoke. Over three months and over 100,000 exposures, only about twenty were deemed perfect enough to present. Herbrich then applied some post-processing to clean up the images, and what you have are some gorgeous organic abstractions. Looking at the plumes reminds of staring at clouds in the sky as a kid.

Illustration for article titled Photographing the Perfect Plume of Smoke Requires Thousands of Tries
Illustration for article titled Photographing the Perfect Plume of Smoke Requires Thousands of Tries
Illustration for article titled Photographing the Perfect Plume of Smoke Requires Thousands of Tries
Illustration for article titled Photographing the Perfect Plume of Smoke Requires Thousands of Tries
Illustration for article titled Photographing the Perfect Plume of Smoke Requires Thousands of Tries
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Illustration for article titled Photographing the Perfect Plume of Smoke Requires Thousands of Tries

Check out more of Thomas Herbrich's work on his website. [This Is Colossal]

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DISCUSSION

hdartist
HDartist

The description of the technique seems off to me. A *SHUTTER SPEED* of 1/10,000 of a second would require an incredible amount of light — never mind the near impossibility of managing a proper sync speed at that high of a shutter speed.

A much easier way to manage something like this would be to use a LONG shutter in very dark conditions with low ISO and small aperture (to kill as much ambient light as possible), and actually expose the scene using flash pops — which can easily have a duration of 1/10,000 of a second. Which, incidentally, is also the preferred technique for doing water drop photos.