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Long Exposure Fire Photography: Bay of Fundy Campfires

One thing we love about summer in Canada is having campfires with friends.

Whether it’s at the beach, at the campsite, or in the backyard, campfires are a cozy way to visit and catch up with family and friends. They are also a great time to play with long-exposure fire photography!

campfire photography with long exposure

Capturing great shots of the fire and spark trails is pretty easy (and kind of addictive).

How to Capture Long Exposure Fire Photography

To capture long-exposure fire photography, you’ll need:

  • Tripod: The long exposure means that any motion from your camera (camera shake) will make your photos blurry. So for sharp fire images, you’re going to want a tripod.
  • Long/slow shutter speed: The slow shutter speed will allow you to capture the light over an extended period of time. That will make your fire look dreamy and alive.
  • Remote: The remote will reduce the camera shake. If you don’t have a remote, you can also use your camera’s self-timer.

For these shots, I used either a 5 or 6 second shutter speed. And I set the 2-second self-timer. I shot in Shutter Priority mode, so the camera chose the ISO and aperture settings.

Some Long Exposure Fire Photography 

This shot was taken early in the evening, so we still see the rocks and people clearly. As it gets darker, the fire stands out more – and the surroundings less.

Spark Trails Are Awesome!

Here are a couple of close-ups of the fire and spark trails. I love capturing the spark trails! Each time I click the shutter, I’m excited to see how many trails I captured, and what shapes they made.

(I may be a bit of a long-exposure fire photography geek!)

capture campfire and sparks with a slow shutter speed
campfire sparks long exposure

Like to sing around the fire? Here are some of the best campfire songs of all time – they’re family-friendly too.

Sharp Shots and Fire Balls 

We were burning some citronella candles to keep the mosquitoes away, so I focused on one for a few shots.  I love how sharp this one came out! The shape of the flame and the color at its base make for a unique capture.

It’s easier to get a sharp photo of a candle or a match than of a large fire. There is less area for the wind to create motion blur, the flame is more isolated and the material is burning more evenly. It’s also easier to get closer to the action.

My daughter was roasting (or maybe burning) marshmallows for her grandfather.

One caught fire during this shot and I captured the fire trail as she pulled it back to blow out the flame. It looks like the fire sent out a fireball.

campfire photography long exposure

Capturing The Mood

I really like the feel of this photo. It mixes the relaxing atmosphere of the campfire with the action of the flames and spark trails.

It can be difficult to remember to capture the mood when you get absorbed in long-exposure fire photography.

Before you head out, try jotting down a few specific shots you’d like to capture. I carry a little notebook that helps me stay focused :).

campfire photography with long exposure

(For all of the shots in this post, I used an entry-level Canon DSLR.)

Have you tried long exposure fire photography yet? Do you love it? Please share your thoughts and tips by commenting on this post.