22 January 2012

Photographing Fire...

...  on a bitterly cold January evening in the depths of Dorset.

Fire is not the easiest of subjects to photograph well, add in a bitterly cold gale force wind (that would eventually beat us into an early submission) and it was that little bit harder.

This was the first of hopefully several "just for fun" fire shoots this year with a fire performer friend, Thomas Johansson, and fellow photographers Spencer & Karl.

I've photographed fire performers quite a few times, but always as part of a show, and never as part of a controlled shoot.  Here we had some control over what the "crazy German" Thomas would do.  Also to make our lives that little bit harder we had a couple of flash units stuck on tripods either side of Thomas.

With three of us shooting at the same time fancy remote flash triggers sadly weren't an option, so we used the best accessory that money can't buy, namely Spencer, running from his camera to press the button on the master flash unit manually. 

With our cameras set on 10 second self timer mode, we'd do a 3-2-1 countdown and press the shutter buttons, with that Spencer would run across the pitch black field, wait for the cameras to "click" into action, and then trigger the master flash (which would in turn trigger the slave flash unit).

From the moment the shutters opened Thomas then had anything from half to 3 seconds to do his fire stuff, during which time the flash was fired and in theory would freeze Thomas.  Confused much?  Just look at the photos and it should make more sense.

Okay so it's not the best technique, with probably over a 50% failure rate due to timing it wrongly.  However if we just played the numbers game and kept going until we got a few keepers.

I even got in on the action myself, with one of my favourites posted below...

Oh, no photoshop has been used in any of these photos.

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