Photographer Forms Patterns with Smoke and Fire

flames shaped like heart

Photographer Rob Prideaux took on the difficult task of photographing smoke and fire, with the added twist of forming patterns with it. Prideaux did minimal photo manipulation to achieve the overall results of his remarkable photos series. The unbelievable collection is entitled Smoke & Fire.

shirts on fire

45 year-old Prideaux, who is based in San Francisco, California, is well known for his product and still-life photography. Smoke & Fire originated after Prideaux was not able to find an appropriate fire image for a task he was working on. Each of the images shows bright flames against a stark white backdrop. The shots were taken in the exact instant they were visible before disappearing. The flames are so intense that the pictures look as if they are radiating the actual heat. Prideaux says the series is his “quest to shape one of the more uncontrollable phenomena [fire] in nature.” The images are the result of igniting gasoline in mid-air, with a quick trigger finger on the camera for the precise split second moment of combustion.

licking flames

“Fire is pretty uncontrollable,” says Prideaux. “The mid-air explosions have defied all attempts at wrangling so far. The shot with the loop of fire was created with steel plates between the camera to try to shape it,” he described. Most notable from the series are a heart-shaped fireball, three tennis fireballs hurtling like comets and 3 t-shirts on a clothesline all in flames.

smoke and fire

Prideaux also makes patterns from smoke by using incense in the dark and photographing it as the smoke billows through the air. “The smoke images are a more contemplative process of waiting and stillness and are heavily manipulated into patterns,” says Prideaux of his other medium. “I began duplicating and combining the smoke images as a meditative practice, dedicating 15 minutes each morning to thoughtless creation, and mandalas began to form, over time. From its source as raw material, I’ve gradually realised the images say a lot about ephemerality and the so-called taming of our natural environment.”

smoke and fire photo series

Prideaux’s website describes the artist as a “still-life and product photographer who specializes in witty anti-examples, cautionary tales, and glamorizing the grotesque as well as the beautiful. Rob Prideaux is interested in artifice, contrivance, exaggeration, heroic objects, technical challenges, new techniques and new ideas. His clients have included EuroRSCG, 7X7, Google, and Wells Fargo Bank.”

photo series smoke and fire

Visit his website to see how he tames both Smoke & Fire with his camera.

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Patricia Ramos

Patricia Ramos

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.