Spinner takes all
He used to shoot video, but Martin Smith has found a form of photography that satisfies his need for movement
project info miss ion To ligh t up the darkness, li terally and crea t ively
photograp her Martin Smi th Age 46 Location Brough ty Ferry, Scotland
Kit Nikon D800, Nikon AF-S DX 18-70mm f/3.54.5G ED, Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, Manfrot t o 294 trip od, Nikon SB-700 Speedligh t, selec t ion of filters
WEB www.facebook.com/ f irechill fot o
I came to photography from background in video. I’d never quite gotten photography before – I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to look at a still image as opposed to moving ones – but now the video camera has been sold, and I’ve invested in a Nikon D800.
I think I’ve always had a secret fascination with fire, which is a world apart from my job as a safety officer on offshore oil and gas rigs – playing with fire out there is kind of frowned upon! After reading an inspirational article in N-Photo, and doing a little research, I was ready to give fire spinning a try with my friend and fellow photographer Gus; this is the sort of project that’s more fun, and safer, to attempt with two of you.
Where to spin
The best locations I’ve found to fire spin are deserted train tunnels, derelict buildings (not flammable wooden ones!), and anywhere there’s water to give those glorious reflections. It’s also nice to have something in the foreground to silhouette against the fire, and to give the photographs a sense of scale.
It’s a real thrill standing in the pitch darkness with molten steel spinning only a few inches away; and believe me, you will feel the heat and smell the fumes. Remember, personal safety should always be your first consideration.
Planning is vital and you really need to scout your locations in daylight first just in case there are any nasty surprises, especially around water. I find that making a rough sketch of what I want
to achieve helps. There are so many techniques, and I advise doing some research or joining likeminded people on a social network where you’ll find plenty of ideas being discussed. Combining fire-spinning with light-painting, for example, adds a new dimension to your photos.
My exposures are generally 15 to 30 seconds when firespinning, and can be several minutes if I add in light painting. I start my aperture at around f/5, but depending on how long I’m spinning for I may go down to f/11 or lower; it’s all about experimenting. I keep the ISO as low as possible, and I also find that setting the White Balance to Incandescent works well.
My next project is to find a large waterfall with a cave, so that I can spin fire from behind the water to create a fiery mist. It’s going to take some planning, but I reckon the end results will look amazing!
01 fIRE MAN Nikon D300, Nikon DX 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5, f/5, 35 secs, ISO200
02 Donn ie Da rko Nikon D300, Nikon DX 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5, f/5.6, 107 secs, ISO200
04 Fire Wheel by Ta y Bridge
Nikon D800, Nikon 24-70mm f/2.3, f/11, 15 secs, ISO3200
03 Deserted Building
Nikon D300, Nikon DX 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5, f/11, 106 secs, ISO200