Fire scene photography

Fire scene photography isn’t just about smoke and flames. There’s not always going to be big fire and billowing smoke, or firemen covered in soot, or a dramatic rescue. Sometimes you get there and … we’ll it’s just a fire scene with nothing special going on. What’s a photographer to do …

Well in my case, it just means that I might have to work a little harder to create a few dramatic, interesting, or compelling images. Perhaps there will be the opportunity for a dramatic portrait, or something a bit artistic.

Some time back, I took in a 3-Alarm fire in Maywood, IL. It took me a while to get there, and all the big fire and smoke had been knocked down well before I arrived. As I walked around the scene, I had my long lens and decided to look for some interesting images that would play off of the low available light that mixed with the scene lighting. They’d been flowing water for a while, so there was quite a bit of water pooling in the street … making for great reflections.

Here’s an image that I shot from half a block away … to create some compression. The first version is straight out of Adobe Camera RAW.

firemen with hose line at night fire scene
An image of firefighters with a hose line, lots of lights, plus standing water in the street. Larry Shapiro photo

These next few show some creative filtering from NIK Color Efex Pro, Macphun Intensify Pro, and then Topaz Detail and DeNoise.

night fire scene edited with NIK Color Efex Pro
Creative enhancements from NIK Color Efex Pro. Larry Shapiro photo
night fire scene edited with Macphun Intensify Pro
Creative enhancements from Macphun Intensify Pro. Larry Shapiro photo
night fire scene edited with Topaz Detail and DeNoise
Creative enhancements from Topaz Detail and Topaz DeNoise. Larry Shapiro photo

At this point, it’s just about creativity and having some fun using the software to bring out or enhance the details that are in the original file.