Playing With Fire #photography

I haven’t been spending a lot of time writing recently, but I have been taking a lot of pictures. Maybe I can fix my lack of writing by talking about photography. Over the past year, my favorite photographic subjects have been on fire …

… don’t worry, they were supposed to be on fire …

I got to see Circus Combustus for the first time when I went to Alchemy 2013. This is where I started to develop a fascination with photographing fire. I’m a big fan of night photography, especially without using a flash. Capturing fire has its own interesting set of technical difficulties, and there’s nothing like a flaming three-ring circus to work out those kinks.


I learned a lot from that first set of fire photos. One of my all-time favorite photos, capturing the moment where a firebreather produces a flaming mushroom cloud, comes from that set. But I can also see a lot of technical mistakes and missed moments in that set. Capturing an exact moment in photography often means sorting through hundreds of versions of that moment and throwing out the mistakes … breaking dozens of eggs to make an omelette.

Good equipment helps. My photo rig for Alchemy 2014 wasn’t much different from last year … using a Canon EOS 60D and 35mm f/2.0 lens instead of my older Canon Rebel T1i and 50mm f/1.4. The important part is figuring out how to control my camera, tweaking shutter speeds and burst settings so I’m more likely to capture something when the moment arrives.


Honestly, I’m amazed with the results from a fairly inexpensive rig. I do have to “zoom with my feet” a lot using a 35mm prime lens, or “zoom in Lightroom” with the crop tool, but it’s better than spending six car payments on a fast zoom lens. Taking the time to preview my shots also helps, making adjustments throughout the performance so I’m not throwing out as many shots due to overexposure or bad focus.

In the end, it’s all about capturing moments. I think I’m getting better at that, even if those moments happen to be on fire.

Check out my entire Alchemy 2014 photo album on Flickr

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