Day 350 (15 Dec 2012) Smoke and Mirrors

Ok, so there are no mirrors, just smoke, but the title sounds better like this 🙂

So tonight I lit up one of the punk sticks used several months ago after watching a youtube video on how to shoot a steaming cup of coffee and learned that a back light to steam (and smoke) will bring it out in the photo.  I shot about 125 images and these 3 are my favorites.  There are several more on my Flickr Photostream, so if you like these, check them out, too!

Originally I was just going to do black & white images, but then I remembered split-toning.  I had a lot of fun playing with the color combinations and seeing how they played together!




Day 331 (26 Nov 2012) A Firetruck in my Studio

Over this past year, when I wanted to shoot random household objects (aka Still Life?), I’ve had to clear off a part of my ‘dinner’ table (which is where my work computer is set up for telecommuting, I don’t eat there unless I’m eating while working) and had to rely on either sunlight or the overhead light for my lighting.  But recently I got the idea of setting up an old small dinette table in my basement to use as my ‘studio.’  I purchased a couple flexible neck clamp lights and some daylight-colored CFLs from Wal-mart, laid out some printer paper, and viola, I have a studio, of sorts.  Obviously this isn’t sufficient to shoot people, but the space could be set up for that, if I ever decide to shoot things that are alive 🙂  It’s right near a window, so I can get some sunlight, depending on time of day/year.

I enjoyed moving the lights around, turing them on/off, and just observing the effect they had on the toy.  I’m not sure if I like the translucent reflectors on these lights, but they may be able to act as a soft box.  Guess I’ve got more experimenting to do!

While I knew I wanted to test out my new setup tonight, I didn’t know what to shoot.  I was thinking of just grabbing the first interesting shape I saw, just to practice with, but on my way home tonight I passed the scene of a structure fire.  Having been a volunteer fire fighter and knowing a few still, I chose a toy fire truck, in honor of those who put their life on the line for others, every day, most of them as unpaid volunteers.

2012_Nov_26_Toy Ladder Truck_010

2 Lights

2012_Nov_26_Toy Ladder Truck_017

1 Light

2012_Nov_26_Toy Ladder Truck_015

2 Lights


Home “Studio”

Day 304 (30 Oct 2012) Powerless

Hurricane Sandy knocked out power to most of the state, including my home.  But having prepared, I had propane for my fireplace (not as fun as a real one, but much more convenient).  I thought it might be fun to play around with shooting it, including changing the focal length (zoom) while the shutter was open.  The first is my fav of the group because it looks like the grate is in the fire in part 🙂



Day 258 (15 Sep 2012) Fire Dancers

Last night I went to the wedding of a very good and close friend.  After the reception ended at 11:30 pm, a friend and I headed to Downtown Providence, RI to see Waterfire. But due to the late hour, most of the fires were out 😦  But we just hung out a little and stumbled upon a group of people who were playing/performing some ‘fire dancing.’  They had torch-like objects on the ends of two chains which they twirled around. It was pretty cool.  I used the opportunity to set up my tripod and take some images of their art.  I was able to meet and talk with one of them when I showed her the photos I took of her friend, then she wanted me to shoot her doing it.  It was pretty cool to see them and meet them.  She was very appreciative of the fact that she can now get photos of her doing it.

2012_Sep_16_Fire Dancer_003

18 mm, 1 sec, f/4.5, ISO 100 (Ring of Fire)

2012_Sep_16_Fire Dancer_007

18 mm, 8 sec, f/4.5, ISO 100 (Fire Dancer)

2012_Sep_16_Fire Dancer_013

18 mm, 1 sec, f/5.6, ISO 100 (Flaming Dance)

2012_Sep_15_Steph & Jared Wedding_323

18 mm, 30 sec, f/14, ISO 100 (WaterFire Basin, After)

Day 224 (11 Aug 2012) Camp Fire and S’mores

Spend the afternoon at a friend’s house celebrating their son’s graduation.  We finished the night off w/ a fire and s’mores.  Great night 🙂


27 mm, 1/13 sec, f/4.5, ISO 400 (Sparks are Flying)


55 mm, 1/13 sec, f/4.5, ISO 400 (Flames)


36 mm, 1/8 sec, f/4.5, ISO 800 (Roasting Marshmallows)

Day 109 (18 April 2012) Shooting a Smoking Punk

Now before you start to wonder if I’m posting this from jail or hate punk music or people who smoke, I’ll let you know that a punk, in the way I’m using it, is a long stick covered in compressed sawdust. It’s used to light off fireworks. Check out the Wikipedia article on it; it’s a very short read.

A friend of mine saw my earlier post where I shot smoke from a candle and suggested this, as it will produce a steady stream os smoke for a long time, verses the few minutes. The trick to getting the most smoke is to rub a light coating of cooking oil over the surface. It works 🙂 Just do it outdoors, ’cause it does stink a little (my windows were open to help dissipate the odor!).

Smoking Punk

60 mm, 1/200 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200, 60mm macro lens (Smoking Punk)

I used my speedlight, hand-held to the left, triggered by the on-camera flash. Boosted the blue wall using split-toning.

Day 105 (14 April 2012) Fire

Today was a good day; starting off w/ some good manual labor cleaning up the church grounds, followed by a visit from a good friend from The City (as NYC is called around here), and some time roosting marshmallows over a fire.  It was so relaxing just watching the fire burn; I could have fallen asleep in my chair if I wanted to 🙂


55 mm, 1/1000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 400, 18-55mm kit lens (Fire)


55 mm, 1/1000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 400, 18-55mm kit lens (Embers)

This last photo I tried one of the edge effect filters for Lightroom; I think it makes it more interesting to look at, what do you think?

Day 97 (6 April 2012) Smoke

Every time I blow out a candle, I am mesmerized by the patterns and shapes that the smoke creates as it wafts up from the wick.  Today I grabbed my camera just as I blew one out and took a few shots.  And just for fun, I played with the split toning to see what it would look like in different colors.  A bit different than what I normally do, but it was fun and a learning experience 🙂

I think I would like to do this again more deliberately, with a  cleaner back ground and play with the  shutter speed to see how it comes out.  But for now, I like how these turned out.

Blue Smoke

60 mm, 1/250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100, 60 mm macro lens (Blue Smoke)

Red Smoke

60 mm, 1/250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100, 60 mm macro lens (Red Smoke)


60 mm, 1/200 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100, 60 mm macro lens (Smoke)

Day 83 (23 March 2012) Painting With Fire

Tonight I did a few shots based on a post I saw on Photo Extremist (he has some really fun stuff up there, you should check it out).  These shots were taken at the beach in Plymouth, MA:

Glowing Orb

18 mm, 15 sec, f/3.5, ISO 100, Glowing Orb

Walking Fire

18 mm, 15 sec, f/3.5, ISO 100, Walking Fire

Ring of Fire

18 mm, 15 sec, f/3.5, ISO 100, Ring of Fire

Ok, so the secret is this: I put some steel wool in a wire egg beater, attached it to a short cable, lit it on fire, and spun it around and I “orbited” the center of the circle.

Day 76 (16 March 2012) This Little Light Of Mine

Fire.  I love it.  Am I a pyro?  Maybe?  I do enjoy starting fires (not arson, think campfires & bonfires), burning things, watching flames, experimenting with burning different materials to see what color they burned.  Maybe this is what pushed me into joining the local volunteer fire company (had to quit due to change in job 😦  ).  The live burn training was amazing!  Until you’ve been in a 600°F room watching the smoke ignite because of the intense heat, you’ve not lived! LOL

So, anyway, back to my photos.  I shot a medium-sized candle, some of the shots with a 10x macro filter.  Hope you enjoy!

Candle Glow

50 mm, 1/25 sec, f/2.5, ISO 800, EF 50mm 1.8 (Candle Glow)

Glowing Ember

55 mm, 1/60 sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 18-55mm kit lens w/ 10x macro lens (Glowing Ember)

Melting Wax

55 mm, 1/30 sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 18-55mm kit lens w/ macro lens (Melting Wax)

Day 54 (23 Feb 2012) Norwich at Night

For a while I’ve wanted to find a high location and shoot down-town Norwich, CT at night.  Downtown is situated near the Thames River at a relatively low elevation compared to the surrounding area, so I thought I might find some high ground with a clear view.  As I’ve driven through it the past few times I’ve tried to pay more attention to what is around me as far as possible shooting locations.  This will need some actual dedicated planning and scouting, as all I’ve seen in my limited routes is a parking garage.  So tonight I tried it.  Since it’s winter and not the weekend, the area wasn’t exactly bustling with crowds, so from my vantage point it wasn’t real exciting.  But since it was after 9pm I parked and took a few shots.

Norwich, CT

18 mm, 30 sec, f/8.0, ISO 100, EF-S 18-55mm IS kit lens (Norwich, CT)

Red Fire Hydrant

18 mm, 20 sec, f/8.0, ISO 100, EF-S 18-55mm IS kit lens ()


18 mm, 15 sec, f/11.0, ISO 100, EF-S 18-55mm IS kit lens (Empty)