I had a really great time tonight with the Maui Smug Mug Photography Club. Tonight one of the members, Anna, put on a really great shooting session where we had these really awesome fire knife dancers pretty much just pose for us. I was looking forward to getting some great shots, but instead, made some new friends and spent most of the evening offering tips and suggestions.
If you ever have the chance to shoot a flaming knife dancer here are some tips:
1. Unless you want all your shots to look something like this 1st one, bring a tripod! Fire is obviously very bright, and if you go for longer exposures you can get some great trails. There is a time and place to a normal type shot (1/10, f2.8 ISO 400) but I don’t find it as interesting as say something like this:2. Use longer exposures. This was a 2.0 Second exposure, with an aperture of f7.1. By stopping down a little, you can greatly increase the duration of the exposure and get beautiful light trails from the flames. I like to shoot between .5″ and 2.0″ for this type of shot. Not too much longer because it becomes a bunch of garbled light. (Bonus Tip- if you do not have a tripod, you can always use the “Pin” technique as shown on the Advanced Photography Techniques DVD. This was the case with the second image. You will also notice that the dancers are hard to see because they are moving throughout the exposure.
3. If you are feeling daring, get that Flash off your camera, in this case a Canon Speedlite 580. Pop the flash from the side of the action or from above. What this will do is get a reflected light exposure off the dancers and still capture the ambient light trails of the fire knives. (Note:You have to pop that flash during the exposure, but if you time it right you can get some great shots.) Again these techniques are shown with the light sticks on the Advanced Photography Techniques DVD.
I wish I had a chance to take more on my own, but I felt better helping out. Some of the images taken by the other photographers were really outstanding. I think there is a link coming for them to share their pictures, when I get it I will post it here.