Light PaintingTechnical

Painting With Fire

By July 8, 2018 February 3rd, 2019 No Comments

So we’ve used flashlights but what about the most primitive light source fire? Well you’re in luck because we can do that too!

* WARNING *

I must warn you that fire is dangerous and I recommend not only doing this with multiple people in case it gets out of hand but also a fire extinguisher for safety. Be sure to check your area of living if there is a fire ban going on or not and/or what the fire danger is everyday. The last thing I want to happen to you is for you to start a wildfire by accident. I take no responsibility for any damage that might occur to you, other people, animals, or property from anything you learn in this blog post.

* END WARNING *

So how do I firepaint? It’s pretty simple when you get down to it so let’s go!

The things you’ll need:

  • A 4ft wooden dowel from Home Depot (Things can vary in size but I get once that are at least half and inch wide)
  • 100% Cotton t-shirts (Other materials that burn will have fumes that could be harmful)
  • A hardcore stapler of some kind. I use one that you can whack into the dowel. A staple gun works too.
  • Lighter Fluid
  • Scissors

First get your wooden dowel from Home Depot or Lowe’s or whatever hardware store you have in your area mine look like the ones below. I like the ones with yellow on the bottom as it provides a better grip overall, they are about half an inch thick. Then take your 100% cotton t-shirt (They can be any color or have print on them it doesn’t matter) and cut the t-shirt in half.  You save shirts and get the same use out of them that way.

Then roll the half t-shirt around the stick until it envelopes the upper half of the stick completely. Take out your staple whacker/gun and whack those staples in there! Once you are confident the staples are in there well enough, you’ve created your own firestick!

Time to go fire painting!

*insert Montage music here for firepainting*

Now that it’s dark enough for you to fire paint a couple things you need to be sure to do.

  • Find an area where it’s difficult to catch other things on fire that aren’t your fire stick. This isn’t necessary but HIGHLY recommended. Especially if you’re a beginner. So any place that’s completely pavement or dirt and in a contained area is great.
  • Have a fire extinguisher close by and make sure it’s primed and ready at a moments notice. I recommend getting a refillable fire extinguisher instead of a single use one. As it’s better for the environment and you’ll save money in the long run.
  • Lighter fluid can be picked up from pretty much any hardware store or supermarket. When using the lighter fluid make sure you apply it to the stick away from the general shooting area so if any fragments of fire come off they don’t catch on the lighter fluid on the ground.

Once you have your camera set up take firestick and lighter fluid and apply them away from your shooting area. You don’t need a lot of lighter fluid for it to work just enough to help catch the shirt on fire. It’s like one quick pass for about a 1 second on the stick is more than enough.

After the lighter fluid has been applied set the lighter fluid away from your shooting area also. The last thing we want is to catch a big bottle of lighter fluid on fire. That would be no bueno for everyone.

If you are using a model to fire paint with get in position behind them. The minimum safe distance is about a foot and a half behind your model. You don’t want them to catch fire too.

REMEMBER, fire travels upward so if you point your firestick down it will travel upwards on the stick towards your hand so be careful! Also you can’t turn fire off and back on so once it’s started be quick with your shapes!

When shooting with fire I suggest having a low ISO and a high f-stop of about F11. Only the first couple of shapes you do will come out bright enough on F11 after that the brilliance of the flame diminishes. I then recommend either having a friend change the f-stop to as low as it can go like F 2.8 or you can run over to your camera with your firestick burning and do it yourself.

And that’s it! You are now painting with fire and your imagination! Again please be careful as fire is a volatile substance and be treated with respect and don’t play with fire if your state is in fire danger or a fire ban it’s illegal!

Another person to check out in firepainting is my boi Zach Alan who gave me my starting point with this style!

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