Results 1 to 17 of 17

Thread: New Fire Dancer Techniques: C&C Welcome!

  1. #1
    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Detroit, Michigan
    Posts
    1,009
    Real Name
    Lex

    New Fire Dancer Techniques: C&C Welcome!

    I struggled with my Pocket Wizards for quite a while last Monday before improvising the setup below. Please do not critique this crummy cell phone pic.

    New Fire Dancer Techniques: C&C Welcome!

    It's a hand-held boom made from my tripod center column, two Bolt flash battery packs, a Manfrotto ball head, 1m Vello TTL cord, a Canon 580EXII flash, and, naturally, some duct tape. Weighs somewhere around 15lbs (~7kg), so holding it at arm's length on and off for two hours gets painful. But it worked a treat. I call it my Boomstick.

    The photo below is my favorite from the Boomstick's first outing.

    New Fire Dancer Techniques: C&C Welcome!

    C&C is encouraged. Do the hard shadows hurt the image? How problematic is the hoop shadow across her diaphragm and forearm? What about the pinkish light trails at photo right? Equipment was a Canon 60D with 20mm f2.8 USM prime. ISO100, 0.8sec, f11. The flash was hand-held pretty close to the dancer, about 8ft (~2.4m) off the ground, aimed down. CTO gel, E-TTL mode, +1.3EV, flash head manually zoomed to 80mm. Vignetting was not added in post.

    Thinking about adding some Pocket Wizard flash to the ceiling next time. Lots of fun!

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    15
    Real Name
    Angela

    Re: New Fire Dancer Techniques: C&C Welcome!

    Sorry to be so dumb, but what is the goal of this ingenious setup?

  3. #3
    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Detroit, Michigan
    Posts
    1,009
    Real Name
    Lex

    Re: New Fire Dancer Techniques: C&C Welcome!

    Quote Originally Posted by nitrus View Post
    Sorry to be so dumb, but what is the goal of this ingenious setup?
    Nothing dumb in wondering about an unfamiliar setup. The idea is to get detailed fire and a properly-exposed dancer in one frame. Tricky for a number of reasons, but mostly because the fire looks best when generating long trails, and the dancer looks best when frozen and sharp.

    The camera is set up to produce long fire trails (0.8sec exposure) without over-exposing the fire and losing detail (thus, f11 at ISO100). But without the flash, the dancer would not be visible (just a black blob with whatever light she caught from the fire) at these settings. So I set the flash for second-curtain sync (which makes it fire at the end of the exposure instead of the beginning), increased the power to expose the dancer at the desired level, and zoomed the flash head (which tightens and intensifies the cone of the flash's light) to create the vignetting.

  4. #4
    Andrew76's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    1,300
    Real Name
    Andrew

    Re: New Fire Dancer Techniques: C&C Welcome!

    Nice shot Lex. I saw the others on FB, and I really like the one of the guy too. I don't think that the shadows, or coloured light trails detract from the photo at all. In fact, I perceive it as an 'action' shot, and so the extra movement works well.

    Very nice how you've captured her so clearly and still used the shutter lag to your advantage creatively. I've never tried anything like this before - very well done.

    If anything, I think the backdrop presents more of a distraction. I know you've got an industrial setting, which works really well for this type of subject, and shot, but those boxes/speakers in the background don't do anything to add to the photo. But that's just my opinion....

  5. #5
    Shadowman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    29,194
    Real Name
    John

    Re: New Fire Dancer Techniques: C&C Welcome!

    Quote Originally Posted by RustBeltRaw View Post
    Nothing dumb in wondering about an unfamiliar setup. The idea is to get detailed fire and a properly-exposed dancer in one frame. Tricky for a number of reasons, but mostly because the fire looks best when generating long trails, and the dancer looks best when frozen and sharp.

    The camera is set up to produce long fire trails (0.8sec exposure) without over-exposing the fire and losing detail (thus, f11 at ISO100). But without the flash, the dancer would not be visible (just a black blob with whatever light she caught from the fire) at these settings. So I set the flash for second-curtain sync (which makes it fire at the end of the exposure instead of the beginning), increased the power to expose the dancer at the desired level, and zoomed the flash head (which tightens and intensifies the cone of the flash's light) to create the vignetting.
    Was it necessary to get all of her in focus, why not just the face, or does she need to be very mobile to handle the flames?

  6. #6
    Plumcrak's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Ft. Wayne, Indiana
    Posts
    1,538
    Real Name
    Jon

    Re: New Fire Dancer Techniques: C&C Welcome!

    Here is what you get when no flash is used...fire but only a shadow of a performer (if you are lucky)

    New Fire Dancer Techniques: C&C Welcome!

    New Fire Dancer Techniques: C&C Welcome!

  7. #7
    Plumcrak's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Ft. Wayne, Indiana
    Posts
    1,538
    Real Name
    Jon

    Re: New Fire Dancer Techniques: C&C Welcome!

    Lex, I am not distracted by the shadows at all. Great shots. I have only had the chance to do this once, can't wait for another chance.

  8. #8
    mknittle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    auburn california
    Posts
    2,233
    Real Name
    mark

    Re: New Fire Dancer Techniques: C&C Welcome!

    Nice work Lex!

  9. #9
    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Detroit, Michigan
    Posts
    1,009
    Real Name
    Lex

    Re: New Fire Dancer Techniques: C&C Welcome!

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    Was it necessary to get all of her in focus, why not just the face, or does she need to be very mobile to handle the flames?
    She needs to be very, very mobile. Part of the challenge in shooting fire performance is that the routines are largely improvised. So you're pressing the shutter based on where you think the dancer will be in about a second, when they may not even know. Getting the fire trails requires either a tight aperture or a ND filter, but it would be nice to narrow the focal plane. I'll look into a ND (any excuse for more toys!).

    Quote Originally Posted by plumcrack
    Lex, I am not distracted by the shadows at all. Great shots. I have only had the chance to do this once, can't wait for another chance.
    Thanks for posting the example of non-flash fire photography. I did a few of those, but it's so much more dramatic with the performer visible in the middle of their inferno! Before you go back, try to get your hands on a flash battery pack like the Bolt CBP-C1 I use (some Canon flashes only) and rechargeable AAs. You will probably never burn through batteries faster. Even with 12AAs powering my flash, recycle time started climbing about two hours in, so I changed batteries. Using 24 non-rechargeable AAs a night gets expensive real quick. A CTO flash gel is also important, and I'm planning to mess with colored rim light next time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew76
    If anything, I think the backdrop presents more of a distraction. I know you've got an industrial setting, which works really well for this type of subject, and shot, but those boxes/speakers in the background don't do anything to add to the photo. But that's just my opinion....
    Unfortunately there was a video crew working that night, and they rearranged a bunch of stuff on me. Nice guys, but they were giddily expecting their videos to look like my shots. Kinda felt like they were poaching on my territory, which is silly, but since seeing my previous shots brought them, it's my own fault.

  10. #10
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Glenfarg, Scotland
    Posts
    19,711
    Real Name
    Just add 'MacKenzie'

    Re: New Fire Dancer Techniques: C&C Welcome!

    My admiration is for taking on the technical challenge to achieve a clear objective ... and achieving it.

    It's one of these in which the person with no knowledge would think, "Oh that's easy, I just need to have the flash working on my camera" and only when they saw the failed result would they begin to wonder, 'How did he do it?'.

  11. #11
    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Detroit, Michigan
    Posts
    1,009
    Real Name
    Lex

    Re: New Fire Dancer Techniques: C&C Welcome!

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    'How did he do it?'
    Stubbornness and listening to wiser photographers. Cheers for the kind words, Donald.

  12. #12
    Plumcrak's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Ft. Wayne, Indiana
    Posts
    1,538
    Real Name
    Jon

    Re: New Fire Dancer Techniques: C&C Welcome!

    Lex, thanks for the tips and the help. Like Donald said, this type of shot takes a special skill set, that is alot harder for an amateur like me to duplicate...but it sure is fun to learn the ins and outs on how to do this properly. Thanks for sharing.

  13. #13
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Windsor, Berks, UK
    Posts
    16,059
    Real Name
    Dave Humphries :)

    Re: New Fire Dancer Techniques: C&C Welcome!

    HI Lex,

    I can't contribute anything beyond that I think you're on the right track, the image with the girl visible beats ones with just the flame trails in this context.

    Yes a narrower DoF would be good, go buy "toys"

  14. #14

    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Grand Cayman, GT
    Posts
    830
    Real Name
    Graham Heron

    Re: New Fire Dancer Techniques: C&C Welcome!

    Thanks for the info Lex,
    I have one of these coming up and the detail about shutter speed and the like is well timed (pun intended of course).
    Nice first shot (of the fire dancer). I do find the shadow across the arm distracting, as if if has been amputated, easy clone however.
    Thank goodness for high pixel cameras, I'm guessing that I am going to be cropping a lot, wide-ish angle to make sure everything gets in shot.
    Love the dramatic shadows due to the flash position.
    As for DoF, could you move her further away from the wall and get closer?
    Graham

  15. #15
    WJT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Darwin, Australia
    Posts
    917
    Real Name
    Wayne Turner

    Re: New Fire Dancer Techniques: C&C Welcome!

    G'day Lex, Yes the shadows do make a mess of this pick , as does the depth of field. I have seen some good examples of this sort of image but they are taken outside without back ground. This means no disturbing walls etc, and less obvious shadows. I think the DoF could be better off at about F: 2.8 or F: 4 to isolate the subject. The flash is a little strong too, and could have perhaps been bounced off the rof or a wall to avoid a shadow behind her. I hope this helps.

  16. #16
    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Detroit, Michigan
    Posts
    1,009
    Real Name
    Lex

    Re: New Fire Dancer Techniques: C&C Welcome!

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamH View Post
    I do find the shadow across the arm distracting, as if if has been amputated, easy clone however.
    Thank goodness for high pixel cameras, I'm guessing that I am going to be cropping a lot, wide-ish angle to make sure everything gets in shot.
    Love the dramatic shadows due to the flash position.
    As for DoF, could you move her further away from the wall and get closer?
    I used a 20mm (36mm full-frame equivalent) lens for this shot, which is about as close as you can get without catching a lens-full of flaming cloth (which I already do, sometimes). It's cropped, but around 90% of the original photo remains. Getting real close does add to the drama, so I highly recommend short lenses and shooting right next to the performer, once they're comfortable with you. Unfortunately, they can't really move away from the wall, since their practice space's owner has requested they contain fire in a certain area. I guess he doesn't like getting his stuff singed.

    Quote Originally Posted by WJT
    I have seen some good examples of this sort of image but they are taken outside without back ground.
    I have plans for some outdoor shots in the works. Waiting until spring, since it's a little chilly in the Rust Belt right now.

    Quote Originally Posted by WJT
    The flash is a little strong too, and could have perhaps been bounced off the rof or a wall to avoid a shadow behind her.
    I'm planning to try a few shadow-killing techniques next time. They may help make the performer look more like they're lit by the fire, in addition to cleaning up the background. But I suspect I'll side with Graham's preference for dramatic shadows. Cheers for the honest assessment.

  17. #17
    WJT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Darwin, Australia
    Posts
    917
    Real Name
    Wayne Turner

    Re: New Fire Dancer Techniques: C&C Welcome!

    your welcome Lex, look forward to future photo's.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •