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Making Charcoal Sexy

Charcoal with fire light

Charcoal is not usually known to be "sexy", but that was the half-joking request I received from a client. It was mainly to be wall art for the office which allowed me to get creative. I like close ups of objects, especially fire, so I knew I would want to try a few of those.

I've been watching a lot of online videos of other photographers using the composite technique. It's not something I do often but I did like the freedom of placement. Throwing charcoal up into the air using a fast shutter speed is very messy...and toxic. The studio retained a strong charcoal smell for a week.

I used a long Bic lighter to draw fire light around the charcoal to create the fire trails. Since I was shooting inside, and could not start a fire, the lighter was best. Long fireplace matches will work if you have good ventilation and a studio set up for safety. Always have a fire extinguisher on hand for this type of shoot. A good one only costs around $30 at a hardware store.

I used Photoshop for the composite work, PSD and Lightroom for touch ups like dodging, burning and color correction.

GEAR: Canon Mark IV, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II, Canon Speedlite 580EX II, Westcott Rapid Box Switch Octa Speedlite Kit, Godox Xpro-C Wireless Flash Trigger, MountDog 20"x28" Continuous Softbox.

I really like the MountDog Softbox. It's inexpensive, $49 at Amazon, and I can abuse the hell out of it, especially when I travel. It's fun to have high end equipment but buy according to how you're going to use it. I took this light to every race track I shot, all over the country, and it didn't really matter if I crushed it.

*I am not affiliated with Amazon.

VIDEO of final composite image.


Charcoal falling down on grill


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