Fire is one of the most intriguing elements so far as art goes. Whether it is in portraying the harmless fires of a ceremonial offering, or a bonfire, or an outright destructive forest fire on the other hand, the range of images one can capture really has no limit. Fire is a bright element, and has a personality that can be captured regardless of the surroundings – it is one of those subjects in photography that effortlessly makes anyone gravitate towards it, no matter what the elements in the photograph accompanying the fire are.
Here are a few creative tips that can help you photograph fire effectively.
- Fire is essentially used in one of three ways in a photograph: either as a primary subject, or an accentuating element, or as the primary source of light. It can also be a combination of all three, but when you look at fire as individual aspects, photographing it will vary accordingly.
- As a subject, fire is a fantastic element to photograph. The star is undoubtedly the flame and its effects. Use a fast shutter speed to freeze the motion, and to go right down to the detail of the flame. A good way to do this would be to use 1/250 or faster. This will need wider apertures and higher ISOs as well.
- When fire is an accentuating element, there is only one part of a bigger scene that involves fire. This will need a good amount of lighting to show the flame despite the surroundings – and the best way to achieve this is to enable exposure for the flame, and then, to add light to the remainder of the scene. If the lighting can’t be controlled at your end, the best way is to manipulate angles into giving you the effect you would like to achieve. Rely on a solid and dark background to let the flame do the talking.
- Fire as a primary source of light is perfect in the way it renders soft shadows and a shade of warmth. Using lower shutter speeds, wider apertures and higher ISOs are the best way to shoot campfires. Use medium to short shutter speeds in order to photograph better while closer to the fire.
- If there is a narrow depth of field with a wide aperture, set the focus on objects with a sharp contrast edge – such as immovable stationary objects that are silhouetted.
- A lot depends on what is being burned for the way in which your flame manifests. The more one burns things that give off smoke and unburned particles, there will be a yellowish-orange flame. For fires that come from fuel being burned, you will have a bluish hue to the flames. This is perhaps the most artist friendly kind of a flame, that lets the fire embody a sense of aesthetic value.