First Man Created Fire - Then He Had To Fake It

First, man created fire. Then man made playing with fire socially unacceptable, so man was forced to simulate fire with lights and red gels.

The art director for Fire Chief Magazine contacted me several weeks ago about shooting some images for their annual feature on foam, it turned out to be 2 days of shooting in two different cities, and a lot of fun.....

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I called Phoenix Fire and Mesa Fire and set up some locations and times to shoot for the foam feature. Day One was with Phoenix. I met the on-duty PIO and Engine 3 at the new PFD Training Center and after one of the firefighters dressed out, he pulled a line and we went into the burn house to shoot foam and make a cover. We couldn't use real fire because we threw it together at the last minute, and in order to send firefighters into live fire multiple other crews need to be standing-by. I needed fire, so I made fire.

I ended up gelling a few lights and placing them in different rooms and shooting at different angles to get a variety of looks and shots, it worked. Using lights instead of real fire gave lots more flexibility and allowed me to shoot as long as I needed to until I felt like I had the right shot.

Then Day Two was spent with Mesa Fire at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. I wanted to do something big with foam, and it doesn't get much bigger than the Oshkosh Striker.

We loaded cameras and lights into the foam truck and rumbled around the airport until we found a few locations to shoot, first near a parking ramp and the second on top of a giant dirt pile. For the ramp shots, I spent a few minutes exploring the angle I wanted, and then began to set up lights. It was a given that the water/foam needed to be backlit (ALWAYS backlight water), so that's where one light went, and the second light was to light up the long side of the truck.

I had a ton of fun riding around in, and shooting with the huge Striker, and I am very happy with the shots we walked away with. I even took a hit from the nozzle you see above, when the firefighter first turned it on, I got blasted in the chest on an unusually cold spring morning. Even though the magazine didn't end up using any of the second day's shots, they are some of my favorites.


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