A Photo a Day – Day 11

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Cigarette lighter sparking

On Day 6 I played around with a lighter and sparks and I told myself I’d revisit the idea because I thought it had a lot of potential. In my opinion I was right. I love this photo.

The gear I used:

Snappy Cam and his Trusty Sidekick

A cigarette lighter

A frustrated housemate


A cigarette lighter right as it’s sparking the gas


Our front porch


If an idea doesn’t work the first time it might still be worth revisiting. I had an idea in my head of what I wanted this photo to look like and the first time I tried it the final images were way off. I think I knew at the time though that it wasn’t the subject failing me, it was me failing the subject.

I wanted to see this idea through to its full potential. You could also say that I was too lazy to come up with a new idea… you would not be wrong…


It took an hour and a half to capture an image of an event that lasts only a fraction of a secondClick To Tweet

So it seems simple but this was actually really hard to get right. It involved my housemate grating the lighter a few times (running it slowly to build up some extra flint dust) and then me shooting continuously as he lit up.

The key was making the aperture and the shutter speed work together. Believe it or not I wound up dialling down the aperture to get this shot. The shutter speed was slower than you might imagine as well, I kept finding that  the light from the sparks was just blowing everything out each time. Obviously my housemate was thrilled each time we had to do it again…

It took an hour and a half to capture an image of an event that lasts only a fraction of a second. We nearly ran a full lighter dry and there was a significant amount of fine tuning of not only camera settings but where to hold the lighter, how to strike it and obviously timing as well as a raft of other things to think about.

At first, I didn’t like the fingers, the motion blur and the graininess from the noise at the higher ISO irritated me but the more I look at it the more I like them. I think it’s a nicer way to highlight the sparks. It also helps understand what the hell it is you’re looking at.


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3 Replies to “A Photo a Day – Day 11”

  1. Thanks! I was honestly amazed at this photo, I had no idea how many colours come off a spark as well as how ridiculously brief they are.

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