Sunday, June 26, 2011

Steel Wool Night Photography!

Through the magic of the "Internet," I learned of a cool way to capture fire and sparks using steel wool and some wire. Not knowing how it works, we decided to play it safe and try it in an empty parking lot out at Bong State Recreation Area. We had a fire extinguisher at the ready, and waited for darkness.

The tutorial I've seen online basically have you tying thin steel cable to a piece of steel wool. I figured that there had to be a better way, so I cam up with the chicken wire basket. There is a pouch at the end of my cable, made from chicken wire, that will hold the steel wool while it's burning. To make my steel wool rig, I ventured down to Home Depot, purchased about 12 feet of 1/16" steel cable, and a few fittings to create loops at the end of the cable. The buckle is off an old Dog leash that Max or Dora chewed up, and the chicken wire was also at home.

Caution: Please take extreme caution when lighting anything on fire, and ensure you have the proper tools to prevent fire from spreading. Better yet, don't try this at all.

My friend Mac and I went out to the most deserted place we could think of, which might also be the safest. We also didn't want to attract too much attention.

The faster you spin the wire, the hotter the steel wool burns, and you get more sparks. If you graze it agains the ground during each rotation, you get sparks bouncing off the pavement.

By moving your feet, and reducing the arc of the steel wool as you're spinning it, you can make a tunnel effect.

Classic Orb.

Combination of steel wool and a red LED flashlight, and the camera was mounted on the top of a long pole.

We're now trying to think of the next place we'd like to try this, so we're just not doing it in the dark. I'm thinking the Kenosha Lighthouse pier, which is concrete, would be fun. Just need to do it when no one else is around...


  1. That is crazy. I can't believe you can do that with just a thin steel cable and a piece of steel wool. I would love to see that in person, I bet its amazing. I really like that tunnel effect. I just watched the Steel Wool Photography Tutorial on youtube and it really makes me want to try it.

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