Rodney Campbell's Blog

Playing with the Photographic Possibilities of Steel Wool…

by on Sep.10, 2011, under Life, Photography

I joined my regular photographic crew for another post sunset shoot again over the weekend – we were really pressed for time (since we had a 7:30PM deadline and only an hour of darkness) so we didn’t get to do half the things we were thinking of doing but it was still a most enjoyable and enlightening evening.

The aim this time was to explore the photographic possibilities of steel wool. The basic idea is to:
– find a large open area of non flammable material (e.g. rocky shelves)
– wire together a cage to hold a handful of steel wool
– attach it to a length of wire which allows you to spin it around away from your body
– and whilst being extremely careful not to set yourselves, the environment, your gear or anything else on fire
– set the steel wool on fire (think flash burning magnesium)
– spin the resultant ball around whilst flash burning pieces of molten metal are thrown about
– photograph the results using long exposures
This is almost a twist to the LED orb of light imagery – except you end up with more of a fiery explosion of sparks which is much larger (and more dangerous :)).

Note: These images (especially the wider shots) look much better when larger – so click any of the images below to see larger versions in an inline overlay slideshow gallery viewer.

For our purpose we found a remote area of rocky island outcrop against the ocean

Ocean Trails

NIKON D7000 + 17.0-50.0 mm f/2.8 @ 25 mm, 1/60 sec at f/8, ISO 1400

We tried lighting the inside of the shipwreck (on the left) using a couple of LED torches whilst we get a great show on the right, however the wreck is really too far away and lost in all the sparks so we abandon the idea after that 🙂 – 6:20PM and about the end of twilight

Whirling Dirvish

NIKON D7000 + 17.0-50.0 mm f/2.8 @ 17 mm, 30 sec at f/8, ISO 100

Ring of Fire

NIKON D7000 + 17.0-50.0 mm f/2.8 @ 19 mm, 35 sec at f/8, ISO 200

We then try with our intrepid whirler up on the cliff tops swirling fire down onto the rocks below

Fiery Outcrop

NIKON D7000 + 17.0-50.0 mm f/2.8 @ 19 mm, 120 sec at f/11, ISO 200

Last shot of the evening (7:05PM) and we’ve moved back down onto the flat rock area so we can see where all the sparking material lands and bounces around on the rock shelves

Fiery Fountain

NIKON D7000 + 17.0-50.0 mm f/2.8 @ 42 mm, 120 sec at f/11, ISO 200

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