Fire knife competitions are by far the most challenging thing for me to photograph. During the competitions I am not allowed to use a flash, and the goal is to freeze the dancer but keep the shutter open long enough to get a full circle of fire. For example I keep my shutter for 1/10th of second for the very fast start off and 1/8th to 1/6th when they slow down. I consider how much gas is on the knife or how many knives the dancer is using since 1, 2 or 3 fire knives can quickly change the lighting. The last variable is time, I only have a few minutes to capture each competitor. After I fill up a card the images are taken and sent to the Asociated Press. I don’t even have a chance to look at them, so there is very little room for error.
I staged the first 4 photos below that are going to be used for the 20th annual fire knife competition advertising for next year. The last 5 are some of my favorites from this most recent competition.