Playing with Fire

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Fire performers, Wellington

One of the benefits of shooting at dusk is that you can take advantage of the colour contrast between the ambient light, which is blue, and artificial light. Tungsten light in particular gives a nice warm glow. But it can be a little – boring. Fire, on the other hand, is a lot more exciting.

I made these photos with the help of two local fire performers. If you want to try something similar yourself, then you need to use professionals as fire, and the fuel they burn, is dangerous. One way to find someone is to search Flickr for photos like these taken in your local area. Another is search online for performers with websites. Then it’s just a matter of making contact and asking if they’re up for it.

These photos were created using an adapted hula hoop. It has six or seven kevlar wicks attached which can be dipped in fuel and set alight. They burn for about four minutes, giving time to try different moves.

Fire performers, Wellington

Fire performers, Wellington

Fire performers, Wellington

Fire performers, Wellington


The other photos were taken with kevlar whips, soaked in fuel and spun around. These also burn for about three or four minutes before the flames die away.

Fire performers, Wellington

A couple of thoughts to help you take better photos:

1. I found that shutter speeds of around six to eight seconds worked best. Shorter speeds weren’t long enough to capture long trails of flame. I mounted my camera on a tripod and used a cable release to take these.

2. An interesting background adds drama and mood.

3. A wide-angle lens adds impact. But don’t get too close!

4. Finally – once you’ve mastered the technique, how can you take it up a level? Perhaps you could find a more dramatic location, combine flash with the long exposure, or include more than one performer in the image.

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One Response to “Playing with Fire”

  1. Janeth Mendoza says:

    Me gusta mucho la primera, parece como si fueran 2 extraterrestres.

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