It may be about time for another post on this blog, and as it still feels like winter here, it’s going to be a wintery post. In January we were camping, and it was rather dark and cold, so we figured a fire would give us a bit of warmth and light. And as it got dark rather early, there was some time to play around with all kinds of light, so now I’ll present a few different ways to light a fire
First out, you don’t light it at all, but let it light itself. Tripod, and, in this case, 5 s of shutter speed. As you notice, there is a pan on the fire, but it’s pretty dark. I placed a continuous light source (in this case a pretty strong headlamp) behind the pan, shining into the steam coming from the snow melting in our pot. Now the shutter speed was only 0.5 s, as the headlamp was pretty bright, but still you see the steam “melting” into some sort of flow. It’s rather blueish in colour, as the headlamp has a “cold” colour temperature, not as warm as the fire.
Luckily I had brought a set of gels (ok, it wasn’t pure luck, I brought them on purpose), and so I put one full CTO (making daylight look like tungsten) over the headlamp, which led to the steam assuming a warmer colour, but still looking foggy. Shutter speed 0.3 s. Next I replaced the headlamp with a flash, which only took a fraction of a second to illuminate the steam, thereby making it look more like “smoke curls” than a fog. Next, I removed the gel, lighting the steam with cold, pure flash. If you look at the first picture, you’ll realise that the fire itself does not light the steam at all, so all light in the steam comes either from the headlamp or the flash. First, I also gelled the flash with one full CTO. The last one is my favourite combination, but it doesn’t matter which you like best – the fun thing is to be able to light a fire in many different, predictable, controllable ways.