Steel Wool & Photography

You’re probably thinking how do steel wool and photography go together? Did you know steel wool was flammable? Perfect for long exposures and light painting.

For this project you will need a steel whisk with hole in the end to attach chain, chain, fine steel wool and a lighter. You will also need a camera that you can use in manual mode and a tripod.

Insert the steel wool into the whisk. Make sure to fluff out the steel wool for best results. Once you have it in place…it’s time to set up the camera.

I set my camera to a 10 second exposure, f 7.1 and ISO of 160. I put my camera on the tripod and had my husband stand in front of me. You also need to shoot in manual focus as well, as your camera will not be able to focus in the dark. I set my lens at infinity. It must be really dark for this to work the best.

I had been waiting for a day where it was really wet (it rained a lot today), in order to be safe as possible. Sparks do fly everywhere, so do not be close to anything that is flammable or could easily ignite. The ground was very wet, so I felt the safest to try this technique tonight.

My hubby was the one who spun the steel wool…he did have some moments where sparks hit him and it was uncomfortable. I would recommend long pants, long sleeves and even a hat to shield your head if your spinning the whisk filled with steel wool.

Each photo used an entire steel wool pad, so they burn out in about 15-20 seconds. The first photo was shot at 120mm and the second was shot at 24mm on a full frame camera.

120mm, 10 sec, f 7.1, ISO 160

24mm, 10 sec, f 7.1, ISO 160

Happy shooting!



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