Tips for Photographing Fire Spinning

Adjusting To Your Environment

As I mentioned a few days ago in my post about the Alice In Wonderland themed burlesque show, there was also a group of fire spinners that performed at the same event.

I had been shooting at ISO 4000 in shutter priority with a shutter speed of 1/125. That was working out pretty well for the burlesque part of the show and I was getting images similar to this one.

But as soon as the fire performers came out, these setting were no longer producing the types of images I was looking for. Sure they were decent enough photos, but they lacked that “WOW!” factor. Here’s one I captured before changing the camera settings.

Camera Settings For Dramatic Images of Fire Spinning

- Lower your ISO to 100.

The fire is going to produce a lot more light than the ambient light and is the subject of your photos.

- Set your camera to Shutter Priority and change the shutter speed to 1 second.

Depending on how quickly the person is moving the fire around, this should be plenty of time to get a decent amount of movement. You’d be surprised at how much action takes place in a second.

- Ideally, you should put your camera on a tripod when shooting long exposure shots to avoid camera shake.

This is not always possible, especially when shooting in a club. For these situations, I look for a wall or pillar to brace myself against, or a tall bar table to lean on as a means of extra support.

Here are some photos that I captured after making the camera changes listed above:

Untitled photo

It’s basically light painting, but with fire.

Notice how much more impressive the last few photos are than the first fire photo? The people are blurred in the latter photos, but that’s ok. They are no longer the focus of the photos. It’s all about the fire.


- Be mindful of your camera settings and your surroundings. If your surroundings changed, you may need to change your camera settings

For shooting fire spinning:

- Shutter priority

- Shutter speed set to 1 second

- ISO down to 100

- Brace yourself on/against something

- Stand back (you don’t want to get burned!)

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