Shooting Challenge: Playing With FireS

Campfires. Cookouts. Why the heck is it that in the hottest months of the year, we ignite the most fires? Regardless, for this week's Shooting Challenge, channel your inner pyromaniac. For this week's Shooting Challenge, you're playing with fire.

The Challenge

Take a photo of fire - fire as in a flame or flames - as the subject. Feel free to make it part of a setting (like a summer campfire with s'mores). Or not. Abstraction within the flames is fine, too.

The Technique

Photographing fire isn't necessarily hard, but predicting exposure of any high contrast scene can be difficult.

Digital Photography School recommends you spot focus on the flame itself, then don't be afraid to open up the aperture a few stops, as what your camera recommends will be underexposed. A longer exposure can smooth out flames (as with a candle), while obviously speedier exposures (or even multiple speedy exposures layered!) will capture the flame's intricacies.

Oh, and if you're having trouble getting the flame in proper focus, just manually focus on the logs or whatever medium is burning.

The Example

So while I suspect we'll see a lot of photos with incredible flame fidelity, our lead shot by flickr's wickedchimp went the total opposite direction. It almost looks like film, doesn't it, with the soft silhouette of a firefighter? Really, it was photographed with a Kodak V550 Zoom. If this photo proves anything, it's that color can denote fire just as effectively as the sharp edges of a flame nipping at the air.

The Rules

1. Submissions need to be your own.
2. Photos must be taken since this contest was announced (read more on that above).
3. Explain, briefly, the equipment, settings, technique and story behind shot.
4. Email submissions to contests@gizmodo.com, not me.
5. Include 970px wide image (200KB or less) AND a 2560x1600 sized in email. I know that your photo may not fall into those exact high rez dimensions, so whatever native resolution you're using is fine.
6. One submission per person.
7. Use the proper SUBJECT line in your email (more info on that below)
8. You agree to the Standard Contest Rules - though we DO accept non-US resident submissions.
9. If the image contains any material or elements that are not owned by you and/or which are subject to the rights of third parties, and/or if any persons appear in the image, you are responsible for obtaining, prior to submission of the photograph, any and all releases and consents necessary to permit the exhibition and use of the image in the manner set forth in these rules without additional compensation. If any person appearing in any image is under the age of majority in their state/province/territory of residence the signature of a parent or legal guardian is required on each release.

Send your best photo by Monday, August 8th at 8AM Eastern to contests@gizmodo.com with "Fire" in the subject line. Save your files as JPGs, and use a FirstnameLastnameFire.jpg (970px wide) and FirstnameLastnameFireWallpaper.jpg (2560px wide) naming conventions. Include your shooting summary (camera, lens, ISO, etc) in the body of the email along with a story of the shot in a few sentences. And don't skip this story part because it's often the most enjoyable part for us all beyond the shot itself!

Mark Wilson is the founder of Philanthroper, a daily deal site for nonprofits.