The Nine Emperor Gods Festival culminates tonight with a fire-walking ritual to send off the gods (and the rain). Devotees will walk on a bed of hot burning charcoal (embers) in what they believe is a supernatural feat of faith. There is science behind it and the science is sometimes integrated into modern corporate team-building exercises.

There is a little science to apply in photographing the event, too. In this picture from a previous ceremony, I used a slow shutter combined with 2nd curtain flash sync. Because of smoke and range, the flash could only reach the foreground walkers as soft fill light. Slight motion blur of distant background added the element of urgency. Whoever slows down, gets burnt.


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