My First Experience Photographing Fire Spinners
I think there are some awesome things that can be done with light trails, whether from cars in traffic, steel wool spinning, or just plain-old fire twirlers. But I had no idea whether it would work with an iPhone, and I hadn’t seen any information about it (or hadn’t looked, either one). So when I found out there would be fire twirling at First Fridays in April (FF is a monthly art festival in Richmond), I knew I had to go.
Side note: I almost didn’t go at the last moment. I wasn’t feeling well, but Erin talked me into it anyway, and it was AWESOME. Just another notch in the belt of “you regret the things you don’t do more than the things you do.”
In addition to the fire spinners, there were acrobatic yoga displays, dancers, singers, cool music, and a ton of interesting people. Even if I hadn’t gotten any good photos it would have been a good night. But taking photos was what I went to do, and I had a couple apps on my phone ready for the occasion. Having forgotten to bring along my tripod (doh!), I staked out a spot where I could sit down on the curb and not bother the people behind me. This way, I could use the ground to stabilize my phone, which only worked because I was planning to use a shutter speed of just a couple seconds at the most.
First was AvgNiteCam, which I’ve been using to simulate long exposure shots. It takes a bunch of photos in quick succession and blends them together. I fiddled with the settings a few times, but to be honest, I was underwhelmed. Because of the nature of the app, I think it works best for landscape long-exposure. In the case of the fire, you can see balls of light at each point that another image was created. Here’s what I mean:
So I switch to another app, called SlowShutter, which also aims to mimic long-exposure. There are some additional settings in this app – in addition to selecting the light sensitivity, you have to choose the shutter speed (length of time), and what SlowShutter calls Capture Mode. For most of my photos of the fire spinners I used Light Trail mode, and I ended up with the best results when I used a light sensitivity of 1/2 (nearly the max) and shutter speed of 1 second or less.
I was able to get some really cool shots! I wouldn’t had believed it myself, but the iPhone can take some great photos, even in a tricky situation like this one. Here are some of my favorites out of the 150+ photos I took that night.
Having seen how well light trails can work on my phone, I can’t wait to get out at night at try some other new things! Have you ever taken light trail photos with your phone? How did it go?