Tips on photographing fire artists and light painting?

pake

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Oct 14, 2010
Messages
2,528
Location
Finland
Real Name
Teemu
I have photographed both light painting & fire artists lately but haven't still found the best way to combine movement with a sharp, motion-freezing finish. I'm talking about 1-4 second exposures and still getting "everything" sharp. And by everything I mean face, hands etc.

I know that I need a flash to freeze the moment and I did make experiments with Live Composite last time I shot light painting but now I'm asking what would be your weapon of choice when trying to get something like this:
50906690898_879733d336_h.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
Katra Solopuro - EM526370 by Teemu Paukamainen, on Flickr

or this:
51075405722_0e3afb4783_h.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
Katja - EM530751 by Teemu Paukamainen, on Flickr


That light painting photo was taken with Live Composite and after taking the base photo, I shot it normally until I triggered the flash manually and then pressed my camera's shutter again to stop exposing. Now that I have been analyzing "what went wrong" I think I should have taken the base photo as a blank (by covering the lens for the first shot) and then take the "additive" photos with the flash finish. That would improve my odds on not getting ghosting or motion blur - at least that much.

The fire artist photo instead is taken without any additional lighting (ie. no flash), which means I was bound to fail. It was raining a bit when shooting and I don't think my flash equipment is weather sealed so I didn't want to risk it and shot with natural light only. As we all know, getting a sharp, good-looking face with longer exposures will require quite a bit of luck...

So... How would you guys do this? I have been thinking about various options but the best one I've thought of is - like already said - using Live Composite with blank photo at first, then the additive ones and then trigger the flash and stop exposing. Lots of manual work and learning to time everything correctly.

It seems that my E-M5III can use flash for Live Comp but only with 1st curtain which means I do get a sharp image at first but then all the movement will "overwrite" the sharp face and other important details and that is not what I want. I could also do predefined exposures (e.g. 2 second exposures with 2nd curtain flash) but that would mean guessing how long it takes to finish the movement or when a certain pattern/figure is 100% complete (not more or not less than 100%). Lots of guessing and lots of variables in play too. Then there's the increasing chance of overexposing the image. Especially when shooting fire the brightest parts will easily burn through and lead to loss of details. That's why I think LiveComp would/could be the way to do it.

So... Comments? Ideas?
 

Baenwort

Strictly Amateur
Joined
Aug 22, 2017
Messages
266
Location
Wisconsin, USA
I think you have a great idea with the initial blank and the painting with light the picture you want to develop. I've never considered this so I'd say let us know your results!

I will comment that a little motion blur on the limbs isn't bad as it conveys the work they are doing.

Are you opposed to post processing? Masking a single sharp flash photo of their face / upper body and a series of the movement pictures together? I'm thinking of using the high shutter speed of our cameras and then a lot of work in post. In theory this could let you take the sharp bits of each frame sort of like to what I do with multi image composites of the moon?

I think your live composite idea is a lot more elegant.
 

pake

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Oct 14, 2010
Messages
2,528
Location
Finland
Real Name
Teemu
I think you have a great idea with the initial blank and the painting with light the picture you want to develop. I've never considered this so I'd say let us know your results!

I will comment that a little motion blur on the limbs isn't bad as it conveys the work they are doing.

Are you opposed to post processing? Masking a single sharp flash photo of their face / upper body and a series of the movement pictures together? I'm thinking of using the high shutter speed of our cameras and then a lot of work in post. In theory this could let you take the sharp bits of each frame sort of like to what I do with multi image composites of the moon?

I think your live composite idea is a lot more elegant.
Oh yes, the composite... I thought about that after the light painting session but forgot about it when shooting the fire artists. I have been playing with a couple of sharper photos and tried merging them with the long exposure ones from the last session but as I didn't really plan those shots on the set, it seems to require a lot of work to get the composites "look right".

But yeah, that "one long exposure + one short one and then merging them into one composite photo" is indeed a valid option. What is - or might be - a problem is that I would probably need to play with camera settings between the two shots even if using flash for the shorter one. I'm usually shooting these kind of sets in all manual mode. :hmmm:

(And that issue made me think of a new, unseen(?) feature for cameras: a pre-programmed, chained shooting. A sort of a shooting queue so to speak. You'd set 2-5 different exposure settings beforehand (ISO, shutter speed, aperture etc) for each shot and once executed, the camera would take as many photos as there are predefined settings in the queue. You wouldn't even need a tripod and it would be kind of like an HDR shooting but with waaaay more creative freedom. I know camera makers would never go for that but perhaps that could be implemented to the phone apps...)
 
Last edited:
Links on this page may be to our affiliates. Sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
Mu-43 is a fan site and not associated with Olympus, Panasonic, or other manufacturers mentioned on this site.
Forum post reactions by Twemoji: https://github.com/twitter/twemoji
Forum GIFs powered by GIPHY: https://giphy.com/
Copyright © Amin Forums, LLC
Top Bottom