Light my Fire (Augmenting firelight)

LumbermanSVO

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Mar 15, 2007
1,041
131
Denton, TX
In a week I'll be setting out on my summer vacation at my parents lake house then Glacier National Park. The first two nights of my vacation will be spent at the lake house where I will have plenty of people to practice various lighting setups on throughout the day.

One of the traditions at the place is spending the evening at the campfire drinking and making fun of each other. There are some pictures here and there of campfire shenanigans, but they are all camera phones pictures. I figure it'll be fun to shoot with my 600D, 50mm f/1.4 and a flash to augment the firelight. The campfire has a wood structure over it to protect us drunks from the Pacific Northwest rain.

This picture will give you an idea of what it looks like:



I was thinking I could hang a light from the center of the structure, right over the fire. I figure I could wrap it in saran wrap to protect it from the smoke, then hang a bit of cardboard directly under the light with a layer of aluminum foil on it to block the heat from the fire. This would be the light setup (I dunno why the picture of off 90º, it is right on my computer):



Does this sound like a reasonable plan? What would you do? How should I gel the light to best match the firelight?

Thanks for all the help!
 

MattSepeta

macrumors 65816
Jul 9, 2009
1,255
0
375th St. Y
Sounds like fun!

I would not even bother protecting the flash from "heat and smoke", but then again I treat my camera gear worse than power tools, so YMMV.

As for gelling it, I would bring 1/2 CTO and full CTO gels and see which gives better results.

Also, instead of hanging the flash, you might be able to bounce the flash off the wood ceiling, also eliminating the need for a gel..
 

snberk103

macrumors 603
Oct 22, 2007
5,503
87
An Island in the Salish Sea
Bounce your flash.... it'll be a bit more directional than just overhead.

I would only put a flash - protected as you have listed - above a fire if I was willing to lose it. Saran might melt. An ember may land on plastic and melt it.

I also wouldn't use my good camera during a night of drunken campfire shenanigans. Or at least be really disciplined about getting your shots, and then putting it away early in the evening.

But have a great time!
 

LumbermanSVO

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Mar 15, 2007
1,041
131
Denton, TX
I use the camera regularly for drunken shenanigans and so far I've been ok.

I didn't think at all about melting the saran wrap, this is why I like to bounce these ideas off people :p I wonder if I should wrap it all in foil except for the light modifier itself.

The reason I like the idea of hanging it in the center of the structure is to get somewhat even lighting around the whole place without shadows from the trusses. If I do end up bouncing off the roof then I can use both my LP160's and bounce on off each side of the roof and probably get faster recycling times. I haven't been up there since the new structure was built so I don't know what color the underside of the roof is, and how that'll effect the color of my lights.

On this same topic, I took apart my intervelometer today and did some soldering on it and added a 3.5mm cable to it in addition to the Canon sized cable. With a small battery and relay, I should be able to setup the intervelometer to fire the flash every 25 minutes or so to keep it from going to sleep so I don't have to climb on a ladder, over the fire, to turn it back on. :D When the parts come in next week I'll assemble my crazy idea and see if it works.
 

lizardofwoz

macrumors regular
Aug 9, 2012
193
130
Australia
I use the camera regularly for drunken shenanigans and so far I've been ok.

I didn't think at all about melting the saran wrap, this is why I like to bounce these ideas off people :p I wonder if I should wrap it all in foil except for the light modifier itself.

The reason I like the idea of hanging it in the center of the structure is to get somewhat even lighting around the whole place without shadows from the trusses. If I do end up bouncing off the roof then I can use both my LP160's and bounce on off each side of the roof and probably get faster recycling times. I haven't been up there since the new structure was built so I don't know what color the underside of the roof is, and how that'll effect the color of my lights.

On this same topic, I took apart my intervelometer today and did some soldering on it and added a 3.5mm cable to it in addition to the Canon sized cable. With a small battery and relay, I should be able to setup the intervelometer to fire the flash every 25 minutes or so to keep it from going to sleep so I don't have to climb on a ladder, over the fire, to turn it back on. :D When the parts come in next week I'll assemble my crazy idea and see if it works.
Seems like a lot of risky business for no gain.
The firelight will be more interesting than direct flash from above.
Enhance most of the shadow details by a SMALL amount of bounced flash from the roof, and tack a large piece of white card under the roof timbers. The card is expendable and cheap. If it is possible, paint the underside of the roofing metal instead. Matt white. Good for many sessions.
Pick the best spot for your photography and put the card above your shooting position. Use several if you are moving around. Use several anyway.
Under-light the scene for effect rather than wash it out.
If the 'shenanigans' turn pornographic, forget fancy lighting, use direct flash and keep the camera lens dry in the close-ups :)
 

Phrasikleia

macrumors 601
Feb 24, 2008
4,077
399
Over there------->
Seems like a lot of risky business for no gain.
The firelight will be more interesting than direct flash from above.
Enhance most of the shadow details by a SMALL amount of bounced flash from the roof, and tack a large piece of white card under the roof timbers. The card is expendable and cheap. If it is possible, paint the underside of the roofing metal instead. Matt white. Good for many sessions.
Pick the best spot for your photography and put the card above your shooting position. Use several if you are moving around. Use several anyway.
Under-light the scene for effect rather than wash it out.
I agree with this 100%. Flash from above as a key light will create what is usually referred to as "monster lighting," which may be an interesting effect for a shot or two, but I don't think you're going to want it for the whole series. All you'll need is a bit of fill from the flash(es).

You're probably asking for trouble by wrapping the flash in anything. It could overheat or something. So just keep it on your camera and bounce it or else keep it on a lightstand/tripod and bounce or fill from there. Does your flash have a bounce card built in? That sort of modifier could be perfect for this situation, giving you some fill from above and from the level of the flash at the same time.

For firelight, I reckon you'll need full CTO, but definitely bring along an assortment of gels if you have them.