We all know I’m a pyro at heart. I also have a huge love for night photography. When the two combine, it’s like magic! I’ve had my eye on steel wool photography for a while, and of course I procrastinated participating in the art until last minute. Thankfully I had a wonderful friend to spend 4 hours on the beach with me around midnight on Friday the 13th, and we had an absolute blast! I’m here to share my fun pictures (some are kind of flops, but I still like them), as well as teach you how to do it too!
WHAT YOU NEED:
-Camera with a manual mode setting
-Steel Wool (grade 0 to 0000)
-Clothes that cover your body (aka no shorts, tanks, t-shirts)
In most ‘fire shots’ aka firework, sparkler, etc…you’ll need about the same settings. A slow shutter speed, a small aperture, and a low ISO. A good starting point for pictures like this is: Shutter Speed: 15-30 sec Aperture: f/8 ISO: 200
Obviously as you get started you may adjust these settings slightly to cater to your needs. I adjusted my shutter speed for a shorter length of time, just because my steel wool burnt quickly.
WHAT TO DO:
Grab a good hunk of steel wool. Apparently the finer the grade (finest grade is 0000) the better it is, but I’ve never tested that. ‘Fluff’ the steel wool, leaving it as uncompressed as possible and place it inside the whisk. If you don’t fluff the steel wool, it won’t spark, leaving your pictures looking like this (which is fine also, but not exactly what we were going for).
Once the steel wool is placed inside the whisk (fluff it out a bit too), tie a shoestring to the end of the whisk so you can whirl it around once it’s on fire. Have a buddy press the shutter button as soon as you start lighting the steel wool, because it catches on fire right away and sparks as soon as you start whirling it around. If you wait too long, you’ll miss the shot.
Just a quick note, the wool doesn’t actually flame, it just burns red. As soon as you see an ember or two, start whirling. :) Also, be sure you’re wearing clothes that cover your skin, as sparks will be flying everywhere!
Have fun my fire freaks!