Steel Wool Light Painting

Last night we tried our hand at steel wool light painting! This is a really awesome way to try some long exposure shots, and the photos turn out amazing!

All you need is some steel wool, cooking whisk, a small leash for the end of the whisk, lighter, a tripod, a camera with a Bulb setting and a bucket of water just in case.

Set up your tripod a good couple of meters away from the pyrotechnic show, set your camera on top and make sure you are set to Bulb. You should find that in the manual setting on your camera.
Have the person who will be spinning the wool shine a light towards the camera so that you can focus. First you will want to autofocus on the light and as soon as it is in focus, switch your focus to manual. This way it won’t try to focus on something else once things start up. We used a remote shutter release for these photos but if you have a steady hand you can just manually hold down the shutter.

Once the camera is set up you’ll want to sort out the flamethrower, ie. the steel wool and whisk. Stuff a bunch of the steel wool into the end of the whisk making sure its in there pretty tight (otherwise you’re going to have a ball of flames flying out the side), clip the leash on to the bottom so that you have a handle for spinning around, get your lighter ready to ignite a few sparks on the wool and start spinning!
The air going through the wool while you spin gets the sparks going and creates this awesome effect.

You can try a bunch of different designs while you’re spinning the whisk and you can also incorporate your surroundings. Have fun with it and get creative!

We’re definitely going to have another go at this! Check out the GoPro time-lapse video of our steel wool light painting!


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