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Thread: Fire Dancers.

  1. #1
    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Fire Dancers.

    With spring's arrival, the Detroit Fire Collective has moved their practices outdoors, which provides much cleaner backgrounds (apart from irritating retro-reflective lenses on parked cars behind the performers ). I had a pretty good day at last Monday's practice, but I have a few questions about some of my results. I think the technical side is going rather well, but I feel like I should be able to get more... something... out of these images in PP. As always, critique and commentary on any aspect of my processing is welcome.

    On both of these shots, I pump the saturation to about +25, then bring down the white temperature (shot on manual WB at 3400K, pulled down to 2800K) to give the fire more color without ruining skin tones. I try to leave it a little warm so it looks like performers are lit by their torches.

    Fire Dancers.
    Canon 60D, 20mm lens with polarizer (a cheapskate's 2-stop ND ) at f11, 1.0sec exposure, ISO100.

    I tried cloning out the ghosting around her face, but didn't have much luck. It's hard to maintain the shape of the face when you're drawing around its border. Any tips on that front? Is it just a matter of getting the brush settings dead right to maintain a natural-looking edge? This image also had some stray lights and background elements cloned out. Is the solid-black background good, or would you rather see something?

    Fire Dancers.
    Canon 60D, 11-16mm lens at 12mm and f9.0, 0.8sec exposure, ISO100.

    Of these two, I like this better. I cropped out some electrical hardware on the arch behind her, and part of the area under her feet. Here, I think the I-beam arch adds enough that the black background is no problem at all. PP used the same saturation/white balance technique described above, and the sharpening seemed to work better here (probably because the image is sharper to begin with ). I also applied a little planar distortion to increase her perceived height (similar effect could have been achieved by getting my lens closer to the ground).

    Any PP suggestions to get more out of my raw materials? I feel like my photos are really close to doing these guys justice, but I can't see the way forward. Fire away, ladies & gentlemen!

  2. #2

    Re: Fire Dancers.

    Soo beautiful! O_O
    I am sorry for not being able to help with editing the ghosts, but I can tell my opinion about the background. I prefer it black, just like you did, I think it makes the fire stands out better and give more impact, without distractions

  3. #3
    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Re: Fire Dancers.

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverYeou View Post
    Soo beautiful! O_O
    Thanks, Lu. Shots like this aren't actually that hard to make if you're quick. The only artificial light is a single off-camera flash firing on second-curtain sync, which can be done with almost any modern shoe flash and a $30 remote cord. The trick is balancing two light levels. Camera settings will determine the fire trail lengths and exposure, while flash settings dominate the performer's exposure. Some performers move faster than others, or use brighter props that will require changing your settings. As the fuel burns off, I widen my aperture to keep the trails bright, and adjust the flash exposure compensation (I'm using a 580EX II with the head zoomed to 85mm at +0.66EV in the second shot) to avoid blowing out the performer.

    Of course, performers' routines are improvised. So when you press the shutter, you have to be thinking about where they'll be in 0.6-1.3sec, but even they don't know that. Your photo reject rate will inevitably be high.

  4. #4
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Fire Dancers.

    Stunning photos...

  5. #5
    WJT's Avatar
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    Re: Fire Dancers.

    Hi Lex, I remember commenting on the indoor shots and can see the difference without a distracting background. The first shot is a ripper, really looks good with the fire on both sides of her arms. F:11 probably isn't necessary. You could have opened it up to F;4 or 2.8 depending on your lens. That may have captured less of the reflective sign too. Love it either way.

  6. #6
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Fire Dancers.

    Very nice captures. I'd love to try this type of shot!

  7. #7
    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Re: Fire Dancers.

    Quote Originally Posted by WJT View Post
    Hi Lex, I remember commenting on the indoor shots and can see the difference without a distracting background. The first shot is a ripper, really looks good with the fire on both sides of her arms. F:11 probably isn't necessary. You could have opened it up to F;4 or 2.8 depending on your lens.
    I would love to stop open to f2.8; the problem is that would over-expose the fire. I need shutter speeds of 0.6-1.3sec to get good trails, so I need to get my hands on an ND filter (yes, Colin, I know; Singh-Ray Vari-ND ) to shoot at f2.8. But even if f11 is unnecessary, I don't think it hurts these shots as much as the indoor ones, simply because the background is consistent and far enough back that blurring it is less of a concern. We'll see if I can get my hands on some more toys. Thanks Wayne.

    Quote Originally Posted by rcprowe
    Very nice captures. I'd love to try this type of shot!
    See my response to Lu's post. It may take a while to get dialed in, but this stuff is really fun. And I bet there are fire dancers in your area. Check with yoga instructors or acrobatic schools if you have trouble finding them.

  8. #8
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Fire Dancers.

    Hi Lex - love the images. If I ever get down to Detroit, I'm going to have to look up when this group performs.

    A couple of thoughts (understanding the difficult shooting conditions). I don't love the ghosting of the perfomers face in the first image. Easy enough to clean up in post though (as per this post). It's too bad you can't get her with a nice rim light from camera right to make the performer's body stand out from the background a bit more.

    Fire Dancers.

    The second image is great as well and the arcs of fire and architecture complement each other very well. I find the flash drop-off a too extreme, but again, something that can be cleaned up in a few seconds in post.

    Fire Dancers.

  9. #9
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    Re: Fire Dancers.

    Really these CANNOT be BETTERED ! Don't worry so much ! Prizewinners !

  10. #10

    Re: Fire Dancers.

    Haha, I think that is why it is hard, Lex ^^ Being fast, adjust the configuration of the camera, and do all those tricks you just mention ! That is why they are amazing photos imo. Very good job!

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