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DPChallenge Forums >> Tips, Tricks, and Q&A >> Cigarettes as props for non-smokers
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10/23/2006 05:03:31 AM · #1
Ok, so I've got some ideas and a friend of mine are working up some ideas for some fun shots on an 'anti-smoking' theme.

We're both quite busy, so it's coming along fairly slowly, but that's really OK.

So I've had my eyes open for a set of props (I won't even buy marlboro labelled socks let alone an actual pack of ciggies).

Well I found the second pack of partially full cigarettes in my life on the ground the other day. SCORE! I think there are about 12-15 of them in there... Most are slightly crumpled, and the box looks like it got stepped on once, but I've never really looked that closely at new cigarettes to see how the paper looks... I wonder if maybe I could trade my squishied ones with someone for some prettier ones... oooh moral dilemna!

Anyhow, having a dozen unlit cigs is one thing, but finding ways to use them photographically is another.

Challenge #1 - The empty cigarette: I believe this will be the easiest. I will use a very sharp knife to make a cut along the side, then brush the crap out of the way and roll it back around a roughly equivalent white drinking straw.

Challenge #2 - The long ash: I read this in a magic book for kids a LONG time ago (funny that in a book for kids more than 50% of the 'magic' tricks involved cigarettes). You can take a paperclip and bend it straight and burn the cig. Let it burn all the way down and you have the ultra-long ash.

I would love it if any of the smokers out there could try this to see how reliable it is.

Here's a question though. I've never smoked, and my friend told me that you have to draw air in through the cigarette while lighting it.

Really? Can you just light a cigarette and let it burn? Or do you have to actually stick your mouth on it? I can probably find some student somewhere to do that for me but... yuck!

Challenge #3 - The in-process burn: The Ultimate Challenging Challenge.

Part 1: No smoke, but got a bit of a red glow. I anticipate this will be the easier method. The challenge is getting just a bit of ash!

How can you put out a cigarette but retain the ash? I'm thinking about using some sort of hard lacquer to preserve the ash in its shape and so I can manupulate it afterwards via drilling. I was thinking clear Nail Polish might do the trick, but I haven't done that research yet.

Then, once I have the burnt end and the ash, I can drill through the ash and install a small red LED (the extra brightness will help with the exposures I'm sure) powered by a little button cell.

I don't feel that this is going to work very easily, so I'm trying to think of alternate methods.

Another thing I was thinking of was to get the cigarette lit and take a pic of it, then use photoshop to expand the pattern and print it on the cigarette end. Then I would be free to use a straw again for the actual body of the cigarette. I could jam a filter (from one of my donor ciggies) in the end and put the LED behind it to keep the red glow localized.

Now if this works, I can move to...

Part 2: The burning cig with smoke. I am not worried about the LED in this prop because usually you only see the light in the dark and you don't see the smoke. I'm sure I can mix something up though once I get all of these things ready.

I'm thinking about a cig that is burnt - probably with a printout wrapped around a straw, but cut back to be a bit shorter, with a filter stuck in about the middle. I would thread a bit of string through like a lasso. Then I could light a match or a candle end, blow it out and quickly pull it up into the cigarette, pouring smoke out of the end OR possibly up through a hole made in the top at just the right spot...

I think I might have to use some metal or just use a metal tube to prevent the straw from melting and deforming.

These are my thoughts. Does anyone else have any ideas?

Until I get these props built, I will just have to settle for pics of people 'about to light'.
10/23/2006 05:13:37 AM · #2
You can get actual prop cigarettes that might make some of this easier.

You could maybe enlist the help of an actual smoker to do your lighting for you?

Cigarettes will go out of their own accord eventually.
10/23/2006 09:17:45 PM · #3
but how can you make them go out at a specific point? I was thinking about a bit of water, but I think it would be difficult.

You know any places where I could get actual prop cigarettes? Particularly those that don't look like prop cigarettes.

Message edited by author 2006-10-23 21:18:07.
10/23/2006 09:28:22 PM · #4
prop cigarette

realistic ones here..
10/23/2006 09:30:28 PM · #5
It'd be easier to just start smoking.
10/23/2006 09:33:09 PM · #6
Originally posted by eschelar:


Challenge #1 - The empty cigarette: I believe this will be the easiest. I will use a very sharp knife to make a cut along the side, then brush the crap out of the way and roll it back around a roughly equivalent white drinking straw.


You can do this with a toothpick. Just pick the tobacco out a bit at a time. If you cut the paper you aren't going to be able to get it rolled up looking like it should. And people who smoke 20 of them a day are going to notice the difference...

Originally posted by eschelar:


Challenge #2 - The long ash: I read this in a magic book for kids a LONG time ago (funny that in a book for kids more than 50% of the 'magic' tricks involved cigarettes). You can take a paperclip and bend it straight and burn the cig. Let it burn all the way down and you have the ultra-long ash.

I would love it if any of the smokers out there could try this to see how reliable it is.


Why don't you, the non-smoker who found rather than paid for a pack, try this out. Post pictures.

Originally posted by eschelar:


Here's a question though. I've never smoked, and my friend told me that you have to draw air in through the cigarette while lighting it.


You're really screwed if ever left alone in nature and forced to make fire on your own. I would suggest you try gently blowing on the cig while holding the match to it and see what happens. I hear this combination of breeze, fire and dried plant matter is a recipe for combustion.

Originally posted by eschelar:


How can you put out a cigarette but retain the ash? I'm thinking about using some sort of hard lacquer to preserve the ash in its shape and so I can manupulate it afterwards via drilling. I was thinking clear Nail Polish might do the trick, but I haven't done that research yet.


Carbon dioxide from any number of sources, the easiest probably being some baking soda in vinegar, would etinguish the cig by robbing it of oxygen yet leave the ash intact.

Originally posted by eschelar:


Then, once I have the burnt end and the ash, I can drill through the ash and install a small red LED (the extra brightness will help with the exposures I'm sure) powered by a little button cell.

I don't feel that this is going to work very easily, so I'm trying to think of alternate methods.


I think at this point you've gone stark raving mad.

Originally posted by eschelar:


Another thing I was thinking of was to get the cigarette lit and take a pic of it, then use photoshop to expand the pattern and print it on the cigarette end. Then I would be free to use a straw again for the actual body of the cigarette. I could jam a filter (from one of my donor ciggies) in the end and put the LED behind it to keep the red glow localized.


Now I know it.

Originally posted by mad eschelar:


Now if this works, I can move to...

insane ramblings cut to spare the children

Originally posted by a desperate cry for help:


These are my thoughts. Does anyone else have any ideas?
Until I get these props built, I will just have to settle for pics of people 'about to light'.


Be a man and light the #$%#@*# thing. You've got a dozen to play with, you can always bum a few more off people who smoke, and you've probably got less chance of getting cancer in the process than you do by walking around outside sucking in lungfull after lungfull of auto exhaust, industrial pollution, etc.

Message edited by author 2006-10-23 21:33:53.
10/23/2006 09:33:13 PM · #7
well, if you were able to suck all the oxygen away from the cig, it would go out. Argon gas would go it, but very deadly ... Co2, maybe.

And, yes you do have to suck it to get it lit.

You can get prop cigarettes. However, I don't think a fake cig is gonna be convincing. Could just suck it up ans smoke a few herbal (nicotine free) cigs, just for the art. :-)
10/23/2006 09:48:12 PM · #8
Originally posted by fotomann_forever:

...Argon gas would go it, but very deadly ...


Argon, deadly?? It's inert! Could be deadly if you breathe it to the exclusion of oxygen I suppose ;-)

Oh, and Keiran... don't go spreading your ash around, eh? ;-) ;-)
10/23/2006 09:54:46 PM · #9
Originally posted by kirbic:

Originally posted by fotomann_forever:

...Argon gas would go it, but very deadly ...


Argon, deadly?? It's inert! Could be deadly if you breathe it to the exclusion of oxygen I suppose ;-)

Oh, and Keiran... don't go spreading your ash around, eh? ;-) ;-)


unless I'm mistaken, argon is deadly because it is denser than air. once in the lungs, it will prevent oxygen from getting in (as you guessed). I understand that doing a headstand can save you from argon inhalation, but I have never tried it...
10/23/2006 10:03:28 PM · #10
Originally posted by eschelar:

Challenge #1 - The empty cigarette: I believe this will be the easiest. I will use a very sharp knife to make a cut along the side, then brush the crap out of the way and roll it back around a roughly equivalent white drinking straw.


You used to be able to buy roll your own papers and I presume you still can. It would be cleaner then deconstruction cause you lick the side of the paper to seal it. You also get past the ethical bit cause you are just buying the paper not the stuffing :-))
10/23/2006 11:11:35 PM · #11
You can put the cigarette out by putting a jar over it while its lit. Make it a small jar so the oxygen depletes quickly. The resultant lack of oxygen will put it out.

Or you could wet the cigarette at the point you want it to go out. This would be tricky. I'd suggest lighting it first then dripping water on the dry bit along the cigarette a bit. When the fire reaches the wet bit it'll go out.

Oh... also... don't smoke any of them.
10/23/2006 11:15:15 PM · #12
I made a fake cig by using a thin drinking straw, and wrapped it in toilet paper, with excess hanging off of the end. Then I lit it, and blew it out and it gave me the look of "ash." I just had the seam facing down and it worked fine.

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I took a photo of the actual smoke curling up, and did an overlay, to create the mood even further.
10/23/2006 11:17:35 PM · #13
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sat the ciggie on it's end, let it burn. i knocked some of the ash off the top by mistake, but it's pretty well all there. you can't pick it up, though. maybe if you sprayed it with haispray when it went out. (only after it's gone out - you remember that scene from st elmo's fire?)
10/23/2006 11:18:55 PM · #14
As far as inserting something into cigs to make the ashes stay, I know they make cigarette rolling papers with wires already built in so when the cigarette gets realllllly tiny you can keep smoking it.
10/23/2006 11:20:47 PM · #15
you can probably only get those in head shops.
10/23/2006 11:26:35 PM · #16
Originally posted by xianart:

you can probably only get those in head shops.

yep.
10/24/2006 01:05:35 AM · #17
Originally posted by Spazmo99:

It'd be easier to just start smoking.


I burst out laughing when I got to this comment. I just quit smoking 6 days ago after 13 years. Sucks.
10/24/2006 02:44:12 AM · #18
Originally posted by hsteg:

Originally posted by xianart:

you can probably only get those in head shops.

yep.


And is that a problem? :)
10/24/2006 03:27:58 AM · #19
Originally posted by Army of nOne:

Originally posted by Spazmo99:

It'd be easier to just start smoking.


I burst out laughing when I got to this comment. I just quit smoking 6 days ago after 13 years. Sucks.


The only reason I'm really reading this thread (and I just read the whole thing..... is because I'm kinda wantin one right now.... I just quit 2 months ago after 21 years and this pic' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/569/thumb/412223.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/569/thumb/412223.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' from the the morning challenge really made me want one.... its that first one in the morning that's the hardest to give up.

The easiest way to be a nonsmoker is to never start!!!
10/25/2006 04:28:12 AM · #20
Thanks for all of the responses. I will attempt to light a cigarette later on after I find a small glass jar. I was thinking about the drop of water too, but I have a feeling that this will be problematic... not too sure how quickly tobacco bleeds... The other good benefit of having a fair bit of tobacco is that I can get some great 'grunge' layers by making a tobacco wash for some paper.

I will insert a paperclip and light with the assistance of my lens blower. I will stand it on end to see if I can get a good ash like xianart... I had been thinking of hairspray too. I might start with hairspray (I don't have any but there's a shop next door that is a hair salon) and move up to a heavier type of lacquer.

The rolling papers are an interesting idea, although I'm not sure where to get them in Taiwan...

What's a head shop?

Army of nOne and Sheryll - Keep it up! don't keep looking at pics like that. Look at pics like xianart's instead... :)

Jutilda - nice shot! I was thinking that keeping the seam on the 'other side of the straw' would be the key to keeping things realistic.
10/26/2006 03:51:47 AM · #21
Originally posted by routerguy666:


You can do this with a toothpick. Just pick the tobacco out a bit at a time. If you cut the paper you aren't going to be able to get it rolled up looking like it should. And people who smoke 20 of them a day are going to notice the difference...

Why don't you, the non-smoker who found rather than paid for a pack, try this out. Post pictures.

Originally posted by eschelar:


Here's a question though. I've never smoked, and my friend told me that you have to draw air in through the cigarette while lighting it.


You're really screwed if ever left alone in nature and forced to make fire on your own. I would suggest you try gently blowing on the cig while holding the match to it and see what happens. I hear this combination of breeze, fire and dried plant matter is a recipe for combustion.

Carbon dioxide from any number of sources, the easiest probably being some baking soda in vinegar, would etinguish the cig by robbing it of oxygen yet leave the ash intact.

Originally posted by eschelar:


I don't feel that this is going to work very easily, so I'm trying to think of alternate methods.


I think at this point you've gone stark raving mad.

...
Now I know it.

Originally posted by mad eschelar:


Now if this works, I can move to...

insane ramblings cut to spare the children

Originally posted by a desperate cry for help:


These are my thoughts. Does anyone else have any ideas?
Until I get these props built, I will just have to settle for pics of people 'about to light'.


Be a man and light the #$%#@*# thing. You've got a dozen to play with, you can always bum a few more off people who smoke, and you've probably got less chance of getting cancer in the process than you do by walking around outside sucking in lungfull after lungfull of auto exhaust, industrial pollution, etc.


Thanks for the suggestions regarding the carbon dioxide. I will give it a try. I've been pretty busy, so this is on temporary hiatus until I can get some more supplies. And time. Homework is starting to pile up.

However, I don't understand why you have to take such a rude tone in your response. Why waste your time if you think it's so stupid? I've seen some prop cigarettes in joke shops back in Canada years ago, but I don't remember them looking so realistic and as someone else mentioned, those who smoke 20+ a day WILL notice.

Incidentally, Leroy is someone who has recently quit smoking (I think it's still working out) and indicated that you indeed to need to puff on it. I'm not trying to start a bonfire, I'm trying to make a realistic prop by burning something with fire in a realistic pattern.

The reason I asked for others to try it is that it's certainly no skin off a smoker's back if they stick a bit of metal in a cigarette before smoking it. They will be smoking it anyhow. The reason that I don't just 'be a man' and light them is that I'd rather not waste the few I have. I thought I would gather information first.

Don't assume that I don't smoke because of the cancer issue alone.
10/26/2006 08:56:28 AM · #22
I smoke. You can get it lit by blowing on the end. Same way smokers can light each others cigs by holding the lit end of one against the unlit end of another and blowing at them.
10/26/2006 09:11:08 AM · #23
All this talk about cigarettes made me crave to light. Definately going for a smoke now.
10/26/2006 09:35:20 AM · #24
Those of us who smoke and can't find a lighter or a match anywhere know that all you have to do is light a gas stove and stick the end of it in the flame. No sucking or blowing needed at all to get it lit. As far as keeping it burning after that, I have no idea, as I don't let it sit that long. However, I have sat there, took 2 drags, set it in the ashtray and had it burn all the way out. Nice long ash.
10/26/2006 11:47:35 AM · #25
Most commercial cigarettes are laced with chemicals to keep them burning, so that they get used up faster. This is probably the leading cause of home fires, since a forgotten or dropped cigarette can smoulder (sometimes for hours) and eventually ignite a couch or mattress.
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