How to shoot flame

How to shoot flame

I took a long afternoon nap and I knew, from the moment I woke up, that I had done a mistake. I knew I was heading for a long sleepless night, so I decided to make something worthwhile of it and, since I was in no mood for work, I decided to play with fire (literally).

I’ve always wanted to take a pic of a match as soon as it starts burning but, since I couldn’t figure out how to do that, I tried something different and this was how I ended up with “… is contagious”

Camera : Canon 5D MKII mounted on a tripod centered on the matches
Focus : Manual Focus using live-view, I always use live view focus for critical focus
Lens : 70-200 L F/4 at 200mm
Speed light: One speed light at the left of the matches about 1 meter away at 1/64 of its power
Picture Settings: Shot in RAW, Flash White Balance, F/11 at 1/160 seconds ISO 400

Why I picked up these settings? Well at 200mm you can expect the DOF to be thin and focus will fall out very quickly so I needed a relatively high F number to keep everything in focus including the flame and smoke. I also needed a high shutter speed to freeze the action when the match is picking up fire.
If it was a one match setup the speed light would have probably been useless but, in my cases, I needed something to light the matches and I doubt the fire light alone would have done that.