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Old Sep 9, 2009, 9:38 AM   #1
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Default New Challenge -- Sept 9-22 -- Fire

We had a challenge on photographing fire and flame in June 2003 with interesting results. Let's try it again. Here is the original challenge description, slightly modified, with some informational links added.

FIRE -- We can't live without it. Sometimes we can't live with it.

Fire takes many forms--A simple candle flame, the flame of a lighter, a campfire, a fireplace fire, a burning building, a forest fire, and numerous others. Fire often implies the use of sophisticated equipment and trained individuals to control and extinguish the flame.

Your challenge for the next two weeks is to photograph something involving fire or flame. This may sound easy but photographing fire can be tricky and difficult. My experience with photographing fire in bright daylight has not been good. Believe it or not, flames do not show well when photographed in daylight. Flame is actually partially transparent. Bright backgrounds behind the flame will show through. A dark background is preferable.

I don't have any good pointers on shooting flame in daylight. I read somewhere that spot metering on the flame helps. If you choose to photograph a small fire on a sunny day and it turns out well, tell us how you did it. If it didn't turn out well, again, tell us how you did it.

If you choose to shoot an indoor scene with candles or fireplace, concentrate on the artistic elements of the picture--composition, lighting, depth-of-field, etc. Candles can be a beautiful subject for photos. However, we don't want to see a single candle plopped in the middle of the table and lit. A closeup view of a candle flame has been done many times in these forums. Unless you can come up with a new, artistic way to show a candle flame closeup, please choose something else.

On the other side of the coin, is firefighters trying to control or extinguish a fire. If you choose to shoot these activities, we want to see the firefighters working, the hoses spraying, the expressions in the faces of the firefighters. Photos of shiny firetrucks, modern or antique, sitting in front of the fire station are not appropriate.. We want to see fire equipment at work.

To summarize, this challenge is actually two challenges: One to shoot fire outdoors or indoors and make it look artistically pleasing, and two, to shoot scenes of fire fighting. This may sound like a simple challenge, but I think you'll find it more difficult than you originally thought. This is a challenge for the camera, not for your photo editor The only editing that should be done is cropping, contrast, and sharpness.

I urge extreme caution when photographing fire, especially if you stage the scene. Have a bucket of water, fire extinguisher or something else at the ready to extinguish the flame if things get out of control. You might have a first aid kit handy, also.


As usual, if you should decide to accept this challenge, please place the word "FIRE" on your subject line.



Last edited by calr; Sep 9, 2009 at 9:41 AM.
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Old Sep 9, 2009, 10:34 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by calr View Post
...if you stage the scene. Have a...
good defense lawyer on speed dial.
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