What you are seeing is a capture of a lightbulb in the process of burning out. To create the shot, my friend Harley and I removed the glass enclosure of a standard household lightbulb (while leaving the innards intact) and powered it up in a pitch black room. The result was an immediate burn-out, which we were all too ready to photograph. The red hue on the smoke was added in post-processing.Link (via Make)
Update: Ryan sez, "The photographer actually does it in bulb mode, which is basically the opposite of high speed photography."
Update 2 Rich Legg, who took the photo, sez, "This is incorrect. Here's the exposure info:"
Shutter: 1/640 second
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.