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Thread: Spinning fire with steel wool

  1. #1
    Scott Stephen's Avatar
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    Spinning fire with steel wool

    This was my first attempt at this. I was worried that this might be alarming the neighbors, so I only took half a dozen shots. I need to go out again this weekend and try some more. Maybe in an empty parking lot rather than in the street.

    I would also like to see if I could use a 2nd-curtain flash off-camera to see if it would illuminate the spinner in an interesting way.

    Spinning fire with steel wool

    Spinning fire with steel wool
    Last edited by Scott Stephen; 1st August 2012 at 01:33 AM.

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    Scott Stephen's Avatar
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    Re: Spinning fire with steel wool

    Shot at ISO 200, "bulb" shutter for about 25 seconds, aperature f/11.

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    Scott Stephen's Avatar
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    Re: Spinning fire with steel wool

    For anyone looking for a dramatic effect, and a fun way to use the long exposures/dark photography, this is a hit. It turns out (rather to my surprise) that you can light a puff of steel wool (what?) and more surprisingly, you can do so merely by touching a simple 9-volt battery to the stuff.
    So to do this, you buy steel wool in the sandpaper section of the hardware store. Get 0 or 00 or 000 or 0000 grade (the finer stuff) because the coarser stuff won't work. Fluff a puff to let air go through, then stuff it into a metal kitchen whisk. Attach the whisk to a light metal chain (as for hanging plants), then light, then spin rapidly to make the air go through it so it burns well.

    Meanwhile on a tripod you need to set a 30 second exposure, or have a friend doing a "bulb" exposure using a wire shutter release. You should autofocus first and then turn autofocus off so it won't be hunting. (I didn't do this-it was too dark to focus so I guessed, but next time i will bring a flashlight just for focusing) Use a low ISO (100 or 200). Use a narrow aperature so not too much light gets in too quickly, and so the wide DOF makes focusing easier. Shoot.

    And wear a hat if you are the guy twirling the whisk.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Spinning fire with steel wool

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Stephen View Post
    And wear a hat if you are the guy twirling the whisk.
    Yes, that's probably quite a good idea!

    Thanks Scott. Would never have thougth about steel wool for something like this.

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