Steel wool photography was a trend, back in 2011, now were bringing it back. The perfect opportunity arose when the boys wanted to take a fishing trip to Wisconsin. I saw this as a chance to try out a photography technique that I’ve been waiting years to try. So, I hit up Goodwill and Walmart to gather some materials.
What you need:
- A cheap whisk, with a hook on the end
- A dog leash (you need it to hook onto the whisk so it won’t come loose)
- A lighter
- #0000 Steel Wool (the finest possible)
- Camera + Tripod
As my dad and I patiently awaited the sky to become dark, I set up all the materials and adjusted my camera. I set up my tripod the tallest it could go, set the aperture fairly small, and set the exposure time at 13 seconds per shot.
Your camera set-up will vary based on your location. If you are in a more remote area there will likely be less light pollution to mess up the shot, so you can set a wider aperture. If you are closer to a city with light pollution then a smaller aperture would be needed because more light is going into the lens.
Also, if you want to shoot more sparks, increase the exposure time. If you want to shoot less sparks then decrease the exposure time. It is really up to how you want to do it.
Once the camera is set up it’s time for the fun! Give yourself, or your brave father, a good distance from the camera, and anything that might be overly flammable (an open field, a beach, or a lake pier is perfect).
Attach the leash to the whisk, shove a chunk of steel wool into the whisk good enough so it won’t fly out, and light the steel wool on fire. Swing the leash, and put some muscle into it! The effects will vary based on which way you swing it so play around with it, see what affects you like best, and most importantly have fun!
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