I am looking for advice on how to shoot a massive bonfire to produce an HDR image. My school has a massive bonfire every year for homecoming — it is 30+ ft. tall. I have been shooting and HDRing my photos for a year now and have gotten decent results during daytime shooting, but I have never really taken an HDR shot at night.
I have a tripod so I am not worried about getting an image; I am more concerned with the best way to get the series of images for an HDR'd image. Should I take one RAW and manipulate it into five JPEGs during post, or shoot five shots that night? Also, I would like to get as crisp an image as possible of the flames. Are crisp flames a pipe dream?
Just in case this helps: I will be shooting with a Sony a33, which is pretty good in low light, and either a 50mm/f1.8 or a 28mm/f2.8. All mounted on a tripod.
The fire is pretty bright during the initial burn, so that should help cut down my exposure time.
What tips do you have for me?
EDIT: Thanks for all the suggestions. I thought I should share my results from the bonfire.
To give scale here is a before shot:
And during the burn:
More images can be found: http://halldjack.com/photos/bonfire-2011-hdr/