How to Create “Burning Man” Photos

There are a ton of benefits to being a photographer nowadays—from the high-end camera gear that’s available to us to the practically infinite amount of knowledge being passed around between people sharing the same profession or hobby. What got me to thinking about this was the following video detailing how to create stunning shots in which the subject appears to be on fire:

In the video, DigitalRev shows how you can create the effect that somebody is on fire without actually setting fire to your subject. And since real props often yield better results than digitally altering the photo, we thought it was a good idea, as well.

If you want to achieve this effect, you’re going to need a few things:

  • A dark background. Not only that, but you need plenty of dark areas in the room you are shooting—or the surrounding area, if you’re shooting outside (although that might make things even more difficult).
  • A camera with bulb mode. You don’t even need a flash for this, since you’ll be using the light from the “fire.”
  • A flashlight.
  • A tripod. Since you’re going to be working with longer exposure times, you’re going to need a stable shot.
  • A piece of transparent plastic. You’ll be shining the flashlight through it.
  • A piece of black cloth to keep the flashlight from shining directly on the lens.
flame fire photography

Making your subject look like he’s surrounded by flames can be cheap and easy.

The technique for creating this effect is quite simple.

  1. Place the piece of transparent plastic in front of a flashlight, and wave it around the subject, creating the flames.
  2. Make sure you place the black cloth on the side of the flashlight that’s facing the camera.
  3. Light your subject’s face as well, and voila!

The final effect is just like the one you see above—light painting and fire, all in one.

fire photography effect

Trying out different exposure times, poses, and lighting can help tremendously.

There you go! A simple solution for a great effect!

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