Light Painting with Fire: How to Create a Badass Wall of Flames!

How to Create a Badass Wall of Flames!

Believe it or not, capturing a beautiful shot of a vehicle is more difficult than you think. Sure, you can just snap a photo, but capturing the design, detail, and essence of the car is a whole other story. Lighting, location, settings, and angles are play into how well the photographic representation turns out.

The picture below is an example of how NOT to take a picture of a car.

Image via

Bad angle, ugly setting, and car looks dirty. Modern day Ansel Adams.

Car photography should be sexy and edgy and sometimes even borderline dangerous. It's rooted in the machismo of all the young men that grew up watching The Fast and the Furious films and yelling out MONICAAAAAAAAAA every time they lost a race.

So, what's the best way to incorporate all three of the previous characteristics I mentioned, other than putting a scantily dressed Mila Kunis on a Ferrari in the middle of a pack of hungry lions?

A Wall of Fire

Nothing says sexy and dangerous more than a huge wall of fire. I remember watching Apocalypse Now and staring at awe during the Ride of the Valkyries helicopter scene and watching the wall of fire from the napalm attacks.

So, how can you create your own bad ass wall of fire, like in the picture below by photographer Barry Elder?

Well, first you'll need some materials.

  • Camera with 30" (or bulb) exposure
  • Tripod
  • Petrol contained within an approved petrol can
  • Old jug (or something similar)
  • Strap/rope and stick
  • Lighter
  • Assistant

Now, before you continue, Barry cautions that playing with fire and flammable fluid is very dangerous, and that you should:

  • Never light the strap close to the open container of flammable fluid. Flammable fluid will be dripping off the strap when you remove it from the jug which will leave a trail of flammable fluid on the ground—this WILL catch fire!
  • Always ALWAYS close your flammable fluid bottle and move it far away from where your jug/starting point will be.
  • Stay clear of ANYTHING that can catch fire, bushes, trees, grass and cars!
  • Keep a wet towel close by, wrap this around the strap to kill the flames.
  • Keep a CO2 extinguisher close by, just in case!

Then you need to do what Barry did. Start off by soaking half of the strap for a few minutes inside of the jug with petrol. From there, he attached the strap to a long rope, lit the strap on fire, and walked around the edge of the car while the camera was open shutter (with the help of the assistant).

Once the pass has been complete, you should extinguish the flame by wrapping the strap in a wet towel, so make sure that's ready to go.

Check out the process in the video below.

And head on over to his tutorial for more details and safety information.

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Photo by Crazytales/Wikimedia Commons

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