This weekend, I made another attempt at photographing fire, and this time got much better results. I have seen some really cool burning beverage photos on flickr recently, and I wanted to try one of my own. I just happen to have a whole bunch of martini glasses laying around. When I put one in front of a white background and illuminated the background, it looked awesome, and I knew I was on to something. A key difference from the previous flaming ice shoot is a change of fuel: I used white gas that I had for my backpacking stove instead of the vodka I used last time. It burns MUCH better. I see now that I was an idiot for trying to do this with vodka. I also suspect that if I go buy some lighter fluid and try that, I may find that I am an idiot for using white gas, because the camp stove fuel burns DIRTY. It leaves a sooty grime very quickly, and I was constantly cleaning the glass. I hope (though I haven’t tried yet) that lighter fluid will burn cleaner.
You can’t see it in the setup shot, but on the floor behind the glass is an SB-600 flash, with a blue gel, pointed up at the white background. Except for the flames (which were surprisingly bright) this was the only illumination. Because the pop-up flash fires in order to trigger the remote SB-600, I had to tape a piece of glossy white paper over the pop-up. The paper stood out an inch or two in front of the pop-up, at a 45 degree angle. That way, the pop-up light was re-directed so it didn’t shine on the martini glass and reflect back to the camera, but the light from the pop-up could still reflect off floor, walls, etc enough to trigger the SB-600.
When I started friday night, the only thing I had on hand for a table to put the glass on was a piece of white foam board. This worked OK, but the fire reflections on the foam board kind of bothered me. So Saturday I ran some errands and bought both a black foam board, and a mirror. Both of these worked better than the white, but I really liked the shots with the mirror.
A shot from the first set with white foam board:
Then, with the black foam board:
Then finally, with the mirror as table:
While I was shooting these, I really liked the blue. Then while processing the photo with the mirror, I tried getting rid of the blue by selective de-saturation, and I REALLY liked it. So, now I’m a bit torn, but I think if I had to pick one image, this is it: