So sometime back in July got a call from Sue at Duke University Press asking if I could shoot some concept photos for them to use with a new journal. The images had to convey the idea of liquid interacting with and/or doing stuff. Since it was about 500° K that week, it was a perfect opportunity to break out the backdrop, put the remotes on the speedlites and see if I could pull something out of the camera. After talking to Sue, we came up with a shot list. Managed to get a bunch of shots about with water dripping into pans and the requisite ripples, and so on. And some shots of water falling. Those were fine for the project, in fact they ended up using a handful of them. But the last set up was actually an effort to use smoke to get images of flow.
That was fun to set up, fun to shoot and the house smelled like Chinese temple for day or two.
The trick was to set up a black backdrop and then rig up some barn doors for one speedlite. Enter some old matte boards, a knife and a roll of gaffer tape to make sure they trapped the light properly and set it up perpendicular to the backdrop.
Focusing was tough, but once I got a handle on that, it was pretty easy to track the smoke. Finally, I found a handy preset for rendering an image as a negative in Aperture and then jumped to Photoshop for getting the colors where I wanted them.