Behind the Scenes: Cutting Light

This is a photo I’ve worked with for a few months. I’ve never really worked with fire, so I saw it as an experiment, but the idea was to let the lamp beam cut through basically anything that would come in its way.

Photographer: Erik Johansson

I knew that I had to build it up piece by piece because it would be quite hard to shoot the fire at the apartment.

I shot a fire ring made up of lighter fuel and sawdust outside in a controlled environment.

I shot the smoke separately to be able to put it where I wanted.

I then shot the empty room and the model to have something to start with. All lit from below with the fire in mind as a light source.

To make sure I got the cut of the light beam right I made a simple 3D model of the space in Google SketchUp. I don’t normally use 3D software in my work, but using photo match in SketchUp is a great way to see where an object should be placed in a 3-dimentional space.

Here are 100 % crops of the different parts of the photo:

I would be happy to hear your thoughts or ideas about the photo or process.

Erik Johansson

Erik Johansson

Erik Johansson is a full time photographer and retoucher from Sweden based in Berlin, Germany. He works on both personal and commissioned projects, and sometimes creates street illusions. For more information please check out and his TED talk.

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