Capturing Flames in Photography: Christmas Pudding

When you have a live show scheduled for December, and everyone's asking you how to photograph flames, then there really is a standout subject to capture - the Christmas Pudding.

In this live show replay, you'll watch Karl style, light, and capture the shot in real-time as he breaks down every step of the process AND answers your photography questions!

From deciding what fluid to set alight to capture the perfect flame and how to style the shot to balancing the lighting from fairy lights in the background with studio lights and how to make the food itself look good enough to eat - it's all covered.

So, if you want some festive shoot inspiration or want to learn the skills for capturing fire in photography, this is the class for you!


  1. The flame looks fantastic in a lot of variations, great job there. The only thing that bothers me a bit is that the pudding looks a tiny bit floaty on the glass plate. I do understand that’s the nature of the materials involved, but do you think there’s something that you could recommend be done to get a tiny bit of shadow or a reflection that could make it look a bit more grounded on the plate? In itself, the shot is already quite challenging and this may not make a lot of difference to the overall look of the shot.

  2. Hello Karl,

    I really enjoyed your approach and the way you explained every challenge that was involved in this shoot.

    I did a shoot a few years ago where the restaurant was getting the whole menu done. Midway through the shoot, I was presented with a few dishes where there was a gel under the serving contraption which was inflamed as the dish was served to the customer. Now, this flame had a similar faint blue glow which was really difficult to capture. I tried a few techniques and then a few tricks to get it right. The menu was huge and we were on a deadline, so I decided to capture the blue flame separately (still looked almost like a blue blob) and place it under the dishes in post. It somehow worked because the flame was underneath the dish.

    The biggest challenge in getting it all in one go was that the rest of the menu was lit using strobes and these few dishes if were lit using modelling lamps would have given a different aesthetic. Even if I could get it somehow look similar to the ones lit with strobe, I believe they would have looked a bit different placed next to others on the menu. Curious to know how you would have approached this situation.

  3. Wow, feel so privileged to see the working of a master!
    So, the modelling light is just there to see the effect but the picture is actually taken with the flash light – wonder my understanding is correct?

    1. Hi, yes that is the usual scenario however in this shot I ended up not using the flash and only using the modelling lamps so that I could match the exposure of the fire.

  4. Marta

    I finally found some time to watch, (bit late for my Christmas shoot though, hehe) and I loved it. Very interesting and so inspirational. I’m definitely going to try this technique soon. Thanks so much, Karl! I’ve learned a lot again.

  5. Loved the demo – packed with detailed instruction. I can’t find the Meth spirits stuff for the flame – in the US the search comes up as rubbing alcohol or some variant of the sort. Is it the same thing? thanks so much!

    1. Hi Linda, thanks yes rubbing alcohol is the same thing, some times it’s clear sometimes it’s purple. My understanding is that in the UK they add the purple stuff (which makes you ill) to stop people buying it to drink it!?

  6. Mark Gilchrist

    Thanks for this live show Karl and team. Turned out really nice. The one light on the surface behind the pudding works so well.
    I would love to see a seasoned steak shot with flame underneath on a barbecue grill as a live show.
    “How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?”

    1. Thanks Mark, I’ll keep that in mind, not sure on the logistics in the studio but I’ll give it some thought!

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