Share this post with your friends:
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Photographing Candle Flames

Let’s photograph a candle lit and not. It’s simple right? Well, maybe…

The Setup

When I start to photograph anything, I ask myself “What is it?” By that I mean describe its properties. Looking at the candle, I see it’s round. No. Make that cylindrical. It’s reflective. It has texture, well the wick has it anyway.

The properties tell me what the light wants to be. Reflective cylinders must be defined with a highlight running the length of it to reveal the roundness. How important is the texture of the wick compared to shape of the candle. Not much. So the light has to be long though not necessarily wide.

I placed a Dynalite 12″ by 71″ strip bank over a Dynalite Studio Electronic Flash head to the left of the candle clamped to a light stand using Matthews Mini Grip gear. A piece of white foam core on the left filled in the shadow. The background is to be black. I read the electronic flash with the incident dome of my Sekonic L-758DR pointed at the strip bank. The exposure is f/8.0, ISO: 100 @ 1/125th. The wall in the background in my studio is white and about twenty feet behind the candle. With the light this close to the candle the background will be black. If your shooting area is tighter space wise, hang a piece of black velvet cloth to make the background black. It only needs three to five feet of space from the candle to go totally black.

2870-0270
The set for photographing candles lit or not.

Camera Raw / Develop

The next part can be done in Lightroom’s Develop module or with Camera Raw in either Bridge or Photoshop. I made an exposure that included and X-Rite ColorChecker Passport to set the color balance and to refine the exposure.

Adjust the White slider

Hold down the Option (Win: Alt) key then move the White slider (1.) to the right until the highlight on the candle turns white. White indicates that all three channels, Red, Green & Blue, are at 100% (Lightroom) or 255 (Camera Raw .)

Next, use the Black slider

Again, holding down the Option (Win: Alt) key pull the Black slider to the left until the entire background becomes black. Black tells us that the three channels are 0% (Lightroom) or 0 (Camera Raw.)

Read the ColorChecker’s white patch

Move the cursor over the white patch on the ColorChecker Passport. Under the Histogram the numbers will be close to if not 100% (Lightroom) or 255 (Camera Raw.)

Candles-003graphx
Adjust the Whites to show the highlight and Blacks for the background.

Shooting Fire

Light the candle. Turn the modeling lights and all other lights in the studio off. If you are shooting in a room with windows, wait until dark then pull the drapes to get the room totally black. The only ambient light in the room is the burning candle. Be sure to turn off the HVAC and ceiling fans to prevent the flame from flickering. Now take a reflected light reading of the center of the flame if you have a spot meter. If not hold the meter close to the flame or use the spot meter in your camera. My exposure for the flame is 1/60th, f/8.0 ISO: 100. Make the photograph.

Lights out ~ the flash too…

By now you’ve probably figured out that photographing candles IRL (In Real Life) isn’t practical. Instead, let’s make a set of flames that can be used to light any candle in post production. I shot a set starting from 1 second through 1/500th of a second.

Blow out the candle

That’s it. Now you’ve made a flame library to use to light candles using Photoshop and more. How? Stay tuned.

2192-PSW LV lightingKevin is a commercial photographer from Atlanta. He works for fashion, architectural, manufacturing and corporate clients. When he’s not shooting, he contributes to Photoshop User magazine & writes for Photofocus.com.
http://kevinamesphotography.com
https://facebook.com/KevinAmesPhotography

Share this post with your friends:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

You might also like:

Thanks to our partners who make Photofocus possible:

Drobo – Drobo is the smartest storage solution in the world. Drobo is storage that protects data — photos, videos and everything else — from hard drive failure. Drobo is peace of mind for the working pro or serious amateur who have a lot of external drives cluttering up the desktop. Save 10% with the coupon code PHOTOFOCUS.

Lume Cube – Proudly known as the World’s Most Versatile Light™, Lume Cube represents the future of LED Lighting. Check out the new Lume Cube STROBE, offering anti-collison lighting for drones!

Backblaze – Get peace of mind knowing your files are backed up securely in the cloud. Back up your Mac or PC just $6/month.

B&H – B&H is a world renowned supplier of all the gear photographers, videographers, and cinematographers need and want to create their very best work.

Skylum – Your photos, more beautiful in minutes. Makers of Luminar, Aurora and Photolemur, Skylum adapts to your style and skill level. Check out the new Luminar 3, now available.

Perfectly Clear Complete – Built for precision. Made for beauty. Perfectly Clear has mastered the science of intelligent image correction – creating superior quality photos in record time, so you can get back to doing what you really love…in no time. Special Photofocus deal here.

Viewbug – Learn and improve your photography with over 500 videos. Trusted by millions around the world, join over 2 million photographers who already use Viewbug.