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Photography Question 
Josh P. Barrett

How to Shoot Sparks

I am trying to shoot a portfolio image and I want to include a machine that is producing a spark. I want to emulate the spark with a sparkler or something. I want the sparks to be somewhat frozen and straight, instead of flowing and orangish from a slower shutterspeed. Do you have any suggestions for being able to capture a spark like that in the studio?

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9/19/2003 12:02:21 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  Razor Sharp
Razor Sharp
© Bob Cammarata
Nikon FM2 Manual E...
I shot an image similar to what you are hoping to achieve, and it came out pretty good...(see attached).

You will need a few props, and special equipment to pull this off.
First of all, you will need an SLR camera, and it must have multi-exposure capabilities. You will need a standard lens, and a star-8 filter.
For the light source, you can use a small pen-light type flashlight, or create a light-tight enclosure with a cardboard box and poke a 1/8" hole in one side for the light of a 100 watt bulb to shine through. (It's important to only have a pin-hole of light.)
Set your tripod mounted camera 7' from the light source, and make certain to center the pin of light directly in the middle of the frame. (Use the focusing ring in your camera's viewfinder to help center it and get it in focus.)
Turn off all the other lights in the room and expose the pin-light at F4 for 8 seconds. (I tried different exposures, and this one produced the effect I was looking for.) Use a tungsten-balanced film for a more natural colored "spark".

This completes step-one of the process. You now have a starburst effect recorded on the film against a black background.
Next, you need to engage the multi-exposure lever on your camera and cock the shutter without advancing the film.
Now, you simply re-compose on your subject using whatever exposure the scene calls for. The part of the machine that you want to spark MUST be dead-center in the frame.
I hope this helps.


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10/7/2003 9:06:36 PM

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