An easy but visually impressive photo project that can be done in small spaces with minimal equipment.
- A black background which can be a piece of cloth, poster board or a rear wall that's far enough away to be underexposed to black.
- A table top.
- An incense stick and holder.
- An off-camera flash with some sort of flash stand or tabletop tripod with a flash mount.
For best results you should use a tripod for your camera but you can also hand-hold it in a pinch.
Set up your table with the black background and the incense.
Place the flash off to either the left or the right side tofire at the smoke 90 degrees to the camera and lens. Many flashes can betriggered wirelessly or use an off camera cord.
If your flash has a grid then use that to keep the flashbeam narrow so that no light spills onto the background or your lens. You canalso make a "snoot" out of dark paper or poster board and tape thatyour flash head to keep the beam as narrow as possible.
Focus on the incense stick or holder and set your shutterspeed to the maximum flash sync speed and choose a middle aperture.
Set your flash to manual power and once the incense issmoking, take a series of photos adjusting the flash output until the desiredexposure is achieved. The smoke will constantly change shape so some imageswill work better than others.
You can adjust your black levels, crop, or even choose a negative image for a high-key version later using your favourite photo software.
The finished images can then be easily printed as enlargements at Kerrisdale Cameras photo lab resulting in stunning, home-made art you can hang on your wall.