How to take pictures of fire performers?

Joined
Nov 12, 2017
Messages
26
Tomorrow night I will have the chance to take pictures of multiple fire performers at night during a festival.
Since I have never had that pleasure before, any advice is welcome.
I read 2 online tutorials but both were not that helpfull and mostly focused on fire breathing (with the number one advide: Don't try it yourself).
My personal guess is something like: 1/200 or faster for fire breathers, as slow as handheld is possible for everyone else (like fire pois, a tripod will be impossible).
Any advide on measuring/shooting mode and compensation? This seems like a game of extreme contrast!

An other idea was to bring in an on camera flash to use as a bounce or at least with a diffusor to gain details in shadows.
Equipment will be: Nikon D610; Nikkor 50mm f1.8AF-D; Nikkor 35-70mm f2.8AF; maybe Yongnuo 685.

I'm very thankfull for any kind of advice!
 

kilofoxtrott

European Ambassador
Moderator
Joined
Dec 29, 2011
Messages
7,969
Location
Tettnang, Germany
Real Name
Klaus
Difficult...
I would go to "Manual" Mode, shutter speed between 1/30 to 1/125 s, aperture as open as possible.
Control the result from time to time in the display.
Perhaps you'll try the "auto bracket" function before.
No flash, like Richard said.
Motion blur is part of that job.

Good luck
Klaus
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2017
Messages
1,112
Location
Central Ohio
Real Name
Andrew
This is what I do and it seems to work for me.

I find a subject that will be typical of the general shooting environment and use them to dial in.
I shoot manual with auto ISO. Usually f/2.8 to f/4 on m43 depending on the DOF I want 135 or APS-C I usually am around f/3.5-5.6). I'll also start out dialed in at about -1 exposure comp.
I'll have the shutter speed at 1/250 through 1/500 depending on how much I want there to be a fire trail (or lack thereof). This is your most subjective variable.

Single point AF, and hit selective shots.

With the above, you'd get shots like this (didn't need the -1 EC because it was daylight)
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 
Joined
Oct 17, 2007
Messages
24,026
Location
Orland Park, Illinois
I captured some photographs of fire dancers earlier this year. Here's one from the Polynesian Cultural Center in Oahu:

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


This picture was captured in the early evening well before the sun went down--which made balancing the exposure a lot easier.

I wanted to narrow the depth of focus to remove some of the distracting background (f/2.8). At ISO 100, my shutter speed was 1/200th. I decided not to raise my ISO (and increase shutter speed), as I wanted to impart some motion into the image.

I dialed in a -1/3 stop exposure compensation. As long as the lighting is consistent from frame to frame, I would prefer manual exposure...and then just check the histogram to make sure that the highlights aren't completely blown out. You might end up with some sections of blown highlights inside the flames at night--no matter what you do with just one exposure. Of course, bracketing exposures is out of the question.

Hopefully there's enough ambient light to assist with balancing the exposure. At a minimum, the light from the flames should illuminate the subject enough the much of the exposure can be salvaged by bringing up the shadows in post processing.

Glenn
 
Joined
Nov 12, 2017
Messages
26
Thank you all very much, this has been very helpfull!
I will see what I can do tonight. After I talked to a friend, who has been there last year, my first worry is now if I will even be able to get far enough to the front of the crowd to even take some pictures :D
 
Joined
Nov 12, 2017
Messages
26
It has been a while now, but finaly I have some time to tell you what I learned on that evening. For the most part of the performance the artists were quite dar away from us and way closer to the other side of area. So I ended up with the old Nikkor 35-135mm f3.5-4.5AF instead of any of the lenses I had intended to use.
Matrix measurement was completely pointless as the camera intended to expose for the dark background and I ended up with blown out performers. I mostly settled for spot exposure and tried to get my exposure from the faces. I used compensation when the face was extremely close or far away from a bright flame.
Bracketing is a bit of a two sided sword as well. Usually I ended up with a useable picture, one that didn't freeze the action and an underexposed one, that didn't match.
Using full manual mode would have been imposible for me, since light changed faster than I would be able to compensate for it. S mode might have been a option.
Based on Baywings fantastic pictures I started out with an ISO to high for my camera...Things got better when I reduced it.
Here are some of my images, any kind of critique and advide is of course still very welcome!
Playing with fire
Fire breathing
Fire dancer in Esslingen
Fire dancer
 
Links on this page may be to our affiliates. Sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
Nikon Cafe is a fan site and not associated with Nikon Corporation.
Forum post reactions by Twemoji: https://github.com/twitter/twemoji
Copyright © 2005-2019 Amin Forums, LLC
Top Bottom