Day 83 meant a chance to get back and shoot the shot I wanted earlier in the week. Like the magic banana earlier, this one was also inspired by a project at DIY Photography, whose archives I am greedily devouring.
The shot is a match mid-ignition, which has a few tricky components to it: You want the flame to be well exposed and as crisp as possible, capture the smoke and particulate expelled from the flame, and you need to ignite it with something outside of the frame.
This is accomplished with a strobe to the side of the subject at low power so you can fire in continuous drive, and you ignite with a torch that does not need to make contact with the match heads. At DIY they used a blowtorch, I used a creme brulee torch to equal effect.
Here is the shot:
ISO 100, f/9 at 1/200th shutter, with the 580EX II at 1/16th power.
You'll notice there is more than one match here, I found that one did not give a particularly interesting or large flame, and multiple matches also extended the ignition meaning more smoke in the shot. The curls and wisps really to make the shot I find, so the three-match setup was certainly a worthwhile modification to the setup DIY Photography suggested. I tried some shots with the strobe gelled, but I think I like the natural colour better.
A sharper flame would have been nice, but you can only catch so much at 1/200th shutter. If there is one thing I would change about my DSLR (and pretty much all the other DSLRs out there) it would be a higher flash sync speed. Your strobe only flashes for 1/8000th of a second (on average), but you must have your shutter open for 1/200th in order to catch it. Imagine what this shot would look like at 1/1000th or faster! Maybe someday...