Long Exposure Fire Photography: Campfires

DSLR Photography

campfire photography with long exposureOne thing we love about summer in Canada is having campfires with friends.

Whether it’s at the beach, the campsite, or in the backyard, campfires are a cozy way to visit and catch up with family and friends. They are also a great time to play with long-exposure fire photography!

Capturing great shots of the fire and spark trails is pretty easy (and kind of addictive).

How To Capture Long Exposure Fire Photography

To capture long exposure fire photography, you’ll need:

  • Tripod: The long exposure means that any motion from your camera (camera shake) will make your photos blurry. So for sharp fire images, you’re going to want a tripod.
  • Long/slow shutter speed: The slow shutter speed will allow you to capture the light over an extended period of time. That will make your fire look dreamy and alive.
  • Remote: The remote will reduce camera shake. If you don’t have a remote, you can also use your camera’s self timer.

For these shots, I used either a 5 or 6 second shutter speed. And I set the 2-second self-timer. I shot in Shutter Priority mode, so the camera chose the ISO and aperture settings.

Some Long Exposure Fire Photography 

This shot was taken early in the evening, so we still see the rocks and people clearly. As it gets darker, the fire stands out more – and the surroundings less.

fire photography with long exposure

Spark Trails Are Awesome!

Here are a couple close-ups of the fire and spark trails. I love capturing the spark trails! Each time I click the shutter, I’m excited to see how many trails I captured, and what shapes they made.

(I may be a bit of a long exposure fire photography geek!)

capture campfire and sparks with a slow shutter speed

campfire sparks long exposure

Sharp Shots and Fire Balls 

We were burning some citronella candles to keep the mosquitoes away, so I focused on one for a few shots.  I love how sharp this one came out! The shape of the flame and the color at its base make for a unique capture.

It’s easier to get a sharp photo of a candle or a match, than of a large fire. There is less area for the wind to create motion blur, the flame is more isolated and the material is burning more evenly. It’s also easier to get closer to the action.

long exposure fire photography

My daughter was roasting (or maybe burning) marshmallows for her grandfather. One caught fire during this shot and I captured the fire trail as she pulled it back to blow out the flame. It looks like the fire sent out a fire ball.

campfire photography long exposure

Capturing The Mood

I really like the feel of this photo. It mixes the relaxing atmosphere of the campfire with the action of the flames and spark trails.

It can be difficult to remember to capture the mood when you get absorbed in long exposure fire photography. Before you head out, try jotting down a few specific shots you’d like to capture. I carry a little notebook that helps me stay focused :).

campfire photography with long exposure

(For all of the shots in this post, I used an entry level Canon DSLR.)

Have you tried long exposure fire photography yet? Do you love it? Please share your thoughts and tips by commenting on this post.

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Hi, I'm the Author!

Dena Haines

I'm an amateur photographer and Canadian entrepreneur. Since moving to South America in 2009, we have made our living as content creators. I'm a partner at Storyteller Media, a content marketing company for Canadian travel brands. I am co-founder of this site, and our Nova Scotia travel site WiseGuides.ca.

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