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How to Take Great Pictures of Flames and Fire

Updated on December 13, 2013

Sample pictures of Flames and Fire

Wrong Camera Settings - not good Here's what happens when you overexpose a picture of fire - not too interesting and very generic
Wrong Camera Settings - not good Here's what happens when you overexpose a picture of fire - not too interesting and very generic
Fast Shutter Speeds and High Iso Nikon P100 ISO800 1/1600s f 1/4.5 White Balance: Auto Metering: Spot
Fast Shutter Speeds and High Iso Nikon P100 ISO800 1/1600s f 1/4.5 White Balance: Auto Metering: Spot
Bluish Fire Blue spectrum from fire visible on photograph.  Nikon P100 ISO800 1/35s f 1/5 White Balance: Auto Metering: Spot
Bluish Fire Blue spectrum from fire visible on photograph. Nikon P100 ISO800 1/35s f 1/5 White Balance: Auto Metering: Spot
Ashes to Ashes Mixing of blue and yellow hues on a burning ash of cartons. Nikon P100 ISO800 1/9s f 1/5 White Balance: Auto Metering: Spot
Ashes to Ashes Mixing of blue and yellow hues on a burning ash of cartons. Nikon P100 ISO800 1/9s f 1/5 White Balance: Auto Metering: Spot
Burning Wood Bluish glow not visible to naked eye. Underexposed to reveal the bluish hue. Nikon P100 ISO400 1/15s f 1/5 White Balance: Auto Metering: Spot
Burning Wood Bluish glow not visible to naked eye. Underexposed to reveal the bluish hue. Nikon P100 ISO400 1/15s f 1/5 White Balance: Auto Metering: Spot
Coal Glow Nikon P100 ISO800 1/150s f 1/5 White Balance: Daylight Metering: Spot
Coal Glow Nikon P100 ISO800 1/150s f 1/5 White Balance: Daylight Metering: Spot
What your eyes can't See Nikon P100 ISO800 1/40s f 5 White Balance: Daylight Metering: Spot
What your eyes can't See Nikon P100 ISO800 1/40s f 5 White Balance: Daylight Metering: Spot

Here are some tips on taking and making great looking photographs of flames and fire.


One very interesting photography subject is fire. One reason is it always catches the eye and our attention. It is very interesting too look at because its state is volatile. Its state changes rapidly and consumes almost anything it comes in contact with. It also gives off a yellowish color which adds mood to the surroundings. Although we cannot capture the entire flaming process in a single photograph, we can depict its movement and the colors. One other interesting reason is, our camera can see something which our eyes fail to see. It’s not a hard subject to shoot, you just need a bit of information.

Shoot at Very Fast Shutter Speeds. The shape of fire changes rapidly and as we know, change or movement in a scene introduces blur. Sometimes blur is good but sometimes is not. Fast Shutter speeds enable you to have a crisp shot of the details of the flame. Faster Shutter speeds also can give you a more properly exposed image. Although you can get correct exposure by adjusting ISO or the aperture settings, increasing shutter speed will also give you more flame detail unless, you want otherwise.

Set Metering Mode to Spot. Center Weighted Average can also work but you need a larger flame for it to work properly or else, the brightness of the surrounding area might ruin the shot. Using spot also allows you to meter a specific point (more like a small area). Use that area as reference for exposure readings.

Shoot when there is a Small Amount of Light or when it is Dark. Strong light sources can interfere with the light from the flame and ruin the shot. Have you ever tried lighting a small candle outside on a very bright, clear day? You won’t see the flame because fire which is plasma is transparent but it glows. Other strong light sources can also alter the mood the fire gives off.

Manually Set White Balance. Setting the camera to auto white balance can yield unwanted results. When set to Auto, the camera computes the white balance based on the scene. It uses the colors from the scene makes one of the colors as reference then adjusts the white balance accordingly. If you want more control over your pictures, you can set it to manual. Use a gray card or anything gray or white to measure the white balance.

Include other Subjects. Fire is a common subject. Add interest to your photo by adding other subjects to the shot like burnt paper, burning logs or coal. Try different angles and exposure settings, you might get something interesting there. Frame the shots properly and use the rule of thirds even if the constantly moving flame makes it difficult. Just keep on taking shots.

Shoot in Manual Mode.

Lastly, always remember that there are no rules in any art. Artists are always free to create their masterpiece. There are guides like the Rule of Thirds but sometimes it can be broken. These are just tips and suggestions. Once you know the basics, feel free to depart from any rule, standard or guide. Find your own style. There are no boundaries in any art.

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    • leakeem profile image
      Author

      leakeem 5 years ago from Earth

      why is the "source" thing appearing when I have not placed anything in the field? Help Anyone?

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Certainly a useful hub. I am not very techy and have a hard time manipulating the camera. I will be sure to check this hub from time to time to remember the details. Thanks for putting this together.

      Also, have you heard the good news? Your hub has been nominated on the Hubnuggets. See this http://koffeeklatchgals.hubpages.com/hub/Word-Sala...

    • Redberry Sky profile image

      Redberry Sky 5 years ago

      Fantastically useful Hub - all my photos of moving things are terrible (and I've never even tried to capture flames!), but now I know to look and see if I can change the shutter speed. :)

    • leakeem profile image
      Author

      leakeem 5 years ago from Earth

      thanks for the replies! Yep, I got an email saying my hub got nominated. I'm not sure what that means though.

    • landscapeartist profile image

      Roberta McIlroy 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      fantastic photos and lots of information. very useful. keep up the awesome work.

    • Darrylmdavis profile image

      Darrylmdavis 5 years ago from Brussels, Belgium

      A very useful hub :-)

    • WannaB Writer profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 5 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Now all I need is some fire to photograph -- preferably a smallish tame one. Great hints.

    • leakeem profile image
      Author

      leakeem 5 years ago from Earth

      Bonfire is great! Thanks for your comments.

    • catchadream profile image

      catchadream 5 years ago from Lakeland, Florida

      I always take pictures of the campfire when I am camping. It is amazing, so many pictures and each one is different. Have taken a few that looked like there was something creepy inside the fire. Just keep changing the angles and the setting and you never know what you might get. Great hub.

    • leakeem profile image
      Author

      leakeem 4 years ago from Earth

      I like Campfire too and it's my inspiration for making this hub. Thanks for commenting!

    • relache profile image

      Raye 4 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I have a new camera and hope to get some good fireside photos this summer.

    • photostudiosupply profile image

      photostudiosupply 4 years ago from Rochester, New York

      Nice tips for capturing fire pictures.

    • leakeem profile image
      Author

      leakeem 4 years ago from Earth

      Thank you!

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