Light Painting: FireStorm



About: I've been very interested in photography, robotics and electronics for over 30 years, and I love sharing my knowledge to help other people.

How cool would it be to take a picture of someone trapped inside of a tornado made of fire? Here's how you can do it!

I've been playing around with light painting a lot lately; building my own tools, trying new techniques, etc. Here's one of the pictures I took. I call it FireStorm. The technique is very similar to making an orb. I used sparklers as my light source.

The only tools you'll need for this (other than your camera) are some sparklers, a spinner tool (pic below) that you can use to spin the sparklers around in a circle over your head, and an off-camera flash or bright light.

Step 1: The Process

Get your camera and gear ready. Use a tripod. Use an exposure of at least 30 seconds, although this will vary based on your ambient lighting. Before taking the shot, we double-checked focus and framing using the on-camera light and a couple of flashlights.

Having somebody help you with this shot makes it alot easier. They can work the camera and the flash for you, or they can spin the sparkler then take the pose.

The choreography of the shot was: I had my wife spin the sparkler over her head while slowly crouching down and standing up again. Repeat until the sparkler burned out. Our sparklers averaged about 25 seconds before they died. As soon as they burned out, she dropped the sparkler and assumed the pose you see in the shot…as if she was trapped inside the firestorm. I quickly triggered my off-camera speed light 3 times in her direction. It was enough to light her up, as you can see. Then I closed the shutter. This shot was a 45 second exposure at f10, but if you have more effects to add, or just move slower than I do, a longer exposure should work just as well.

I would have liked to tweak the exposure just a bit more, but we ran out of sparklers.

My wife and I enjoyed the heck out of this experiment! It was great fun, and really really simple to do. If you’ve got a camera and some sparklers, you should try it!

Let me know if you have any questions, and I will try to answer them.



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