Playing with Fire

Fire and I aren't exactly friends. I've never been a huge fan of fire and never really cared for it except to make my food eatible.

I've been working to photograph Fire Good Productions for a while now, though. The group performs with spinners and other various flammable objects to create an intense visual experience. And one that if I attempted, would set my hair on fire.

Fire is not easy to photograph. I knew it wouldn't be easy going into this, but it was even harder than I expected. So, through trial and error, I tried a few different techniques.

Initially, I attempted photographing with a slowish shutter speed. This yielded OK results, but the picture was a bit too dark and I couldn't get enough of the shape of the flame. The performers were really making a lot of great shapes and I didn't think the shutter speed I had captured it enough (see above).

So, I slowed it down even more. This allowed me to get a lot more of the shape of the flame, but it was a give-and-take situation. If I wanted the shape, the face and body of the performer were going to be too slow to capture. Some of my images came out OK, but they were few and far between (see above).

Then I whipped out my flash. I've been a lot more comfortable shooting flash since my Advanced Techniques class. I would've never used a flash before, but now I find that I need it in all sorts of situations.

I wanted to slow my shutter speed down enough to capture the shape, but then pop the flash to stop the face. This was much more effective to get both of these things accomplished. I'm not a huge fan of the color of the picture, though —I gelled the flash orange but perhaps not enough. I also think the background is really distracting. But I think if I would have stuck with this technique a bit longer and had a cleaner background, it would've been the most effective. But, it was a super cold night and the fire wasn't warming me up, unfortunately (see above).

I'm sure there are many more techniques I could have used for these images. But these were the ones I thought of at the time. I also had a little help from a friend, Seth McConnell, who came along to shoot video.

Photographs copyright © Katie Currid 2010. All rights reserved.