Steel Wool Spinning

I have always been interested in long exposures. there is a certain appeal to getting the shot just right and having to really plan ahead and make sure you get everything looking how you want it to. I think for most people, it starts with the simplest thing: a flashlight.

with some practice, and some very patient friends, you can even start light-writing, the tricky part is either writing backwards, or writing regular with an adapted “writing utensil”. in this shot, I held the flashlight like a pen, but the light facing behind me as I wrote regularly.

you can get creative,

but ultimately, I think people just like hearts.

I have done lots of sparkler photos, which end up super fun, but then I saw people putting these photos online with these long spark trails and huge streams of light. I absolutely had to try it. so I got a little metal basket to put on a string to make my own spinning tool. the images turned out really cool, but my friend Mark got the idea to put a basket onto a drill in order to spin it.

using about 1s exposures at f/8 and a modest 1600 ISO, we were able to create some great “starburst” looking photos. the umbrella was used as both a prop and a pseudo shield.

Turned out really well, the snow absorbed the sparks, so there weren’t as many bounces as you’d see if you were doing this on asphalt or cement, but I love the snowiness and how warm the picture is despite being shot after a big snowfall. if you’re interested, get your equipment together and have some fun! makes for some great profile pics!

Some tips if you want to try this out yourself:
– be aware of the recent weather to know if the ground is wet or if there is dry leaf litter around. these sparks are HOT and will start a fire if there is kindling laying about. the ground was VERY wet, but we had a fire extinguisher nearby just in case.
– I used Extra Fine 00 Steel wool. pull it apart a little to allow air to get through the wool. apparently you can use the 0000 steel wool, too. I haven’t tried it yet. all are available on amazon
– set your tripod and prefocus on your subject. I brought a flashlight to highlight the subject and then flip the lens to “manual focus” so it wouldn’t try seeking when I pressed the shutter button.
– do NOT spray sparks at your house or any structure that isn’t entirely cement/metal. obvious, but needs to be said.

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