STEP BY STEP / Go for a spin
1 Find some space
We headed to the beach as we needed ample space to spin the poi, and wanted a simple, uncluttered backdrop. We set up the camera down low on a tripod for a more interesting angle, then waited for the light to fade at dusk so that the fiery streaks would show up better.
2 Expose for the background
We intentionally underexposed the background by -1 stop so that the performer would stand out when adding flash. With Manual mode engaged we set an aperture of f/9 to maximize depth of field and lowered ISO to 50 to allow for a slower shutter speed.
3 Go longer with the shutter
Our exposure meter suggested a 1/4 sec shutter speed with the above settings, however we wanted a shutter speed of 1 sec to blur the motion of the fire. To achieve this, you could narrow the aperture, use an ND filter, or simply wait for light levels to fall, which is what we did.
4 Bag the stand
We were using the flash off-camera, to the side of the performer, so popped our Speedlight on a light stand. A regular stand may not be sturdy enough in windy conditions; we used a heavy-duty C-stand, weighed down by our camera bag attached via a bungee cord.
5 Gel the light
You could also experiment with white balance by placing gels on your Speedlight. Use a warming gel to preserve skin tones and make the sky bluer. We added agreen gel to add some more magenta to the sky, making it look more purple in our shot.
6 Aim for the head
Set your Speedlight to manual mode, 1/2 power; adjust if the performer looks too dark or bright. We manually zoomed the flash head to 80mm to create a tight spot of light, aimed at our model’s head and torso, so the light fell off towards their legs, emphasizing the performance.