Tuesday, June 30, 2015


The challenge was to get the idea created in camera with as little to NO attempted darkroom “magic” as possible.

My idea for this image was to create a ghostly flame being emitted from this wooden match.  The ONLY light in the image had to be just the ignition of this one match.

The original image was created on Ektachrome slide film some 40-years ago but the finished image you see below was dialed-in in the digital age--with the color matching fillet around the image--in Feb. 2001  when I entered it in that year's PPA international print competition. The print Merited and was one of the final merits I needed to earn my PPA Masters Degree !

Ghost Flame, circa 1972, Ektachrome film @ 1000 ASA
To do this required push processing my film to 1000ASA and just the right shutter speed to capture the eruption of the flame with some movement.  The really difficult part was creating that movement.  The directional movement you see here was caused by the draft of air, coming from the right by the partially open door to my bathroom. I did this in my bathroom because it was the only room in my apartment that was totally dark.  The wooden match was simply propped up on the inside edge of a small water glass. I’m set-up really close to the action, camera on tripod, so I can light the match with another match and extinguish that match (by dropping it into a another glass of water) as I trip the camera shutter.  This took a number of repetitions just to get the mechanics down.  Remember, I am doing all of this in the dark!  The big variables were how far I opened the door to create a Venturi effect into the room versus the shutter speed of the camera—a seemingly infinite number of possible combination! 

The resulting image was worth the effort and to this day when people see this print on my studio wall and I ask them what they see, I get all kinds of answers other than a simple flaming match!  It’s abstract nature tends to open people’s imaginations.  Isn’t that what our art is all about?

’Til next week…As usual, should you have a comment or question don’t hesitate.

Author:  Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman, Certified
Training site:  http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com

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