Home photography ideas: Capture unique fire photography with a simple matchstick

Watch video: Capture unique fire photography with a simple matchstick

If you've been searching for a new home photography idea, this fun project should be at the top of your list. High speed photography will allow you to record rapid action that happens in a blink of the eye. We're going to show you how to get this image of a match head bursting into flames using your camera’s Manual mode, a shutter release cable and a few other items you probably already have lying around the home.

When the match does explode you’ll reveal incredible detail in the match head, with flowing butterfly wing-like flames coming out from each side and a flying shower of sparks. Watch the video and read the steps below to see how you can do it too!

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Capture a miniature burst of flames with this fun home photography idea

Capture a miniature burst of flames with this fun home photography idea (Image credit: Future)

Capture exciting fire photography

Without any further ado, read on to discover how to turn an ordinary matchstick into a visual masterpiece using your camera!

1. Set everything up on a table

(Image credit: Future)

Place a matchstick in a blob of blue tac on your table and place your black card behind it. Then set up your camera on a tripod and frame up so that the camera is eye-level with the match and close enough to fill the frame with the match head. A macro lens works best as this will allow you to get closer to the match for a frame-filling shot, but you can still get great results with a kit lens.

2. Dial in the right settings

(Image credit: Future)

Go into your camera's Manual mode and dial in an aperture of f/5.6, ISO800 and a shutter speed of 1/4000sec. To focus go into Live View and zoom in tightly on the matchstick by louping in on the LCD display and then switch to Manual Focus mode to lock it off to make sure it doesn't move.

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3. Take a burst of images

(Image credit: Future)

Insert your remote shutter release cable and set your camera to its continuous shooting mode, then hold down your shutter release cable button and with a second lit match, bring it into contact with the other one to ignite it. Then safely dispose of the lit matches in a glass of water or a pot of sand to extinguish them.

4. Edit to clean up the final image

(Image credit: Future)

Your shot will likely need a bit of cleaning up in post-production to make it look its best. It’s very common to have your hand or the other match stick in the frame, and for maximum impact you only want the one exploding match head. To clean up in Photoshop or Elements open you shot and grab the Spot Healing Brush Tool, then resize the brush with the [ and ] keys and run it over the offending area – Photoshop usually does a pretty good job at removing the offending area.

For a finer level of control you can use the Clone Stamp Tool and again resize the brush with the [ and ] keys. Hold Alt and click on the part of the shot you wish to clone, then release Alt and paint over the area you want to get rid of.

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Dan Mold
Deputy Editor

Deputy Editor on PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine, Dan also brings his technical wizardry and editing skills to Digital Camera World. He has been writing about all aspects of photography for over 10 years, having previously served as technical writer and technical editor for Practical Photography magazine, as well as Photoshop editor on Digital Photo

Dan is an Adobe-certified Photoshop guru, making him officially a beast at post-processing – so he’s the perfect person to share tips and tricks both in-camera and in post. Able to shoot all genres, Dan provides news, techniques and tutorials on everything from portraits and landscapes to macro and wildlife, helping photographers get the most out of their cameras, lenses, filters, lighting, tripods, and, of course, editing software.