Capturing Ice and Fire in Photographs


My kids looked at me like I was crazy when I poured nearly boiling water into an ice cube tray, gently placed 10 candle wicks into the water and ever so carefully placed the tray into the freezer.

I think I got more funny looks from them when I placed the cubes on a black foam sheet, grabbed a lighter and started running the flame around the cube. The flame helped shine up the cube to make it more transparent, and it also allowed me to shape the cube and create a puddle around it to offer an additional visual element.

My Canon Speedlite 430EXII flash with a blue gel across it was set on the left, with my LED Flashmate set to maximum on the right. My 100mm 2.8 macro lens was mounted to my Canon 60D and focused in on the cube. Once I had the shot arranged and fired off a few test shots, I lit the wick and started snapping.

Captured Ice and FIre

Canon 60D | 100mm 2.8 macro lens | 1/50 | f/2.8 | ISO 100 | Addtl. Lighting | RAW

In total, I lit six ice cubes and snapped more than 100 photos. It took a bit to check all of them out, but I am very pleased with the final outcome. And even though I shot the photos with the intent of showing them in color, I de-saturated some of the RAW photos to make them black and white, adjusted the temperature and eventually the levels to get the look that I thought best represented ice and fire.

Check out more of the photos I captured, including the ones that are in color, on my Flickr page.

I’m gonna give this setup another go, hoping to achieve a more transparent cube. I will try bringing the water to an actual boil, as I’ve heard that helps get some of the air bubbles out. I’m also going to try freezing the wicks before I insert them into the water to see if that will help make the cube clearer. In short, I am not ready to give up on this concept – it just might take me a bit to get everything reset and have the time to give it that other go.

~signed, Carltonaut

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