Steel wool and light painting

Steel wool and light painting

I have seen these steel wool fire ring photos all over Instagram. I messaged my partner Otto knowing he would know what it was. Of course he did and then it was on!

We scrambled around a Wallmart looking for supplies and had most of them but we had to get the star of the show, the steel wool, from a Lowes next door.
From there it was off to the woods!

I feel the need to mention that
YES this is a fire hazard and
YES we took this very seriously.
It had stormed much of that day dumping rain over much of upstate NY. So it was already pretty damp out but I also brought along a fire extinguisher just in case. 

Here are the supplies one needs to do the steel wool photo:

Here are the steps to create your own steel wool photo:

  1. Tie your string to your whisk
  2. Fluff your steel wool by pulling it apart a bit
  3. Wet the steel wool and ring it out
  4. Stuff the steel wool into the whisk
  5. Make sure you are in a safe area to complete the shoot, fire resistant or damp ground
  6. Set up your camera on a tripod in a sturdy area
  7. Before you get started do some test shots with your camera. I played with settings with a shutter speed at 4 seconds and 10 seconds and adjusted the f-stop to go with each
  8. Take the 9 volt battery and begin to tap it to the steel wool until it ignites, blow on it to help it along if it needs it
  9. When the wool is ready start spinning it, the person with the camera should be ready to hit the button after a couple good turns of the wool
  10. Hit the shutter and thats it! Keep shooting as required to get the shot you want
 The process capturing a steel wool photograph

The process capturing a steel wool photograph

You can see below, not all the shots turned out so patience is required. Before each shot I would use the flashlight to focus on the subject, then shut it off and ask him to start. At that point the camera is ready and the focus issue should be minimal.

We loved the way these photos came out but we have a few things we might try for next time. One thing to be aware of is that the battery will heat up from repeated touching to the steel wool. We decided next time we might take more extreme measures to light it, blow torch anyone? :)

 Light painting with a flashlight 

Light painting with a flashlight 

After we had had a couple successful shots with the steel wool Otto had a great idea to tie the flashlight to a string and see how that looks. 

The flashlight shots are of course easier. We tied the string to the end of the flashlight we were using and used the same technique described above. We hope to expand on this technique more because we found it really fun. There is a lot of material on YouTube about these techniques.

In the end we were thrilled at how these photos turned out. After minimal editing in Snapseed they were off to Instagram and the world!

The Seinfeld method

The Seinfeld method

The WOPR might be my favorite "evil computer"

The WOPR might be my favorite "evil computer"

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