PetaPixel

How to Use Steel Wool for Beautiful Light Painting Photographs

Here’s an awesome tutorial that teaches you how to create beautiful light painting sparkler photos. The materials are pretty cheap: all you need is some steel wool, an egg whisk, and a rope or cable. Simply place the steel wool inside the whisk, light it on fire using a lighter (or 9V battery), and swing it around at the end of the cable while your camera snaps a long-exposure photo. Just be careful not to start a fire!

Here are some sample photos using this technique to get you inspired:

(via Digital Photography School)


Image credits: The Burning Bush by earsaregood, Ball Lightning by *BZd*, Steel Wool Sparks on the Beach by Photo Extremist, MN6360 Surface to Air Missile Squadron – Barrack II. by *BZd*, and Reverted Exploit by joo0ey


 
 
  • http://profiles.google.com/slimspidey Spider- Man

    I lost an eyebrow doing this photograph…

  • http://twitter.com/adrian_bryant adrian_bryant

    one of the most informative things I’ve seen on PetaPixel

    Well Done 

  • http://www.facebook.com/sevenbates Seven Bates

    I lost ten IQ points watching this guy talk….

  • BuzzLightyear

    Why does that guy talk like he’s mentally handicapped and learning new words….

  • http://twitter.com/The_MacLover Jacob Roy

    I like the way he talks :P

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Cantu/1632949906 James Cantu

    Very cool.  I like it a lot.  I want to try it immediately, however I don’t think anyone should try this without others around.  A lot of the country has been experiencing drought conditions and I fear the thought of someone letting this get out of hand.  I would think a second person and some serious safety prep would be in order.  I’ve been in a dorm fire and had to help put out a grass fire on the farm.  Just please please please use more caution than your think you need if you try this.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Cantu/1632949906 James Cantu

    Very cool.  I like it a lot.  I want to try it immediately, however I don’t think anyone should try this without others around.  A lot of the country has been experiencing drought conditions and I fear the thought of someone letting this get out of hand.  I would think a second person and some serious safety prep would be in order.  I’ve been in a dorm fire and had to help put out a grass fire on the farm.  Just please please please use more caution than your think you need if you try this.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Cantu/1632949906 James Cantu

    Very cool.  I like it a lot.  I want to try it immediately, however I don’t think anyone should try this without others around.  A lot of the country has been experiencing drought conditions and I fear the thought of someone letting this get out of hand.  I would think a second person and some serious safety prep would be in order.  I’ve been in a dorm fire and had to help put out a grass fire on the farm.  Just please please please use more caution than your think you need if you try this.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Cantu/1632949906 James Cantu

    Very cool.  I like it a lot.  I want to try it immediately, however I don’t think anyone should try this without others around.  A lot of the country has been experiencing drought conditions and I fear the thought of someone letting this get out of hand.  I would think a second person and some serious safety prep would be in order.  I’ve been in a dorm fire and had to help put out a grass fire on the farm.  Just please please please use more caution than your think you need if you try this.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Cantu/1632949906 James Cantu

    Oh, and thanks for sharing! Very cool indeed!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Cantu/1632949906 James Cantu

    Oh, and thanks for sharing! Very cool indeed!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Cantu/1632949906 James Cantu

    Oh, and thanks for sharing! Very cool indeed!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Cantu/1632949906 James Cantu

    Oh, and thanks for sharing! Very cool indeed!

  • Austin Miller

    True, true. I really want to try this out, but seeing as I live in Arizona and we just had one of the biggest forest fires in the state’s history, I’m going to pass on this until it gets cooler. (Or until we get a big monsoon storm.) This is still an awesome idea, though! 

  • http://garyobrien.com Gary O’Brien

    When you go to the hardware store to buy your steel wool, do please buy a couple of fire extinguishers. And when you do your shoot, have a couple of assistants who are charged with nothing but fire detection.

    This is really cool, I’m looking forward to trying it.

  • http://www.aaronbrownphotos.com Aaron Brown

    This kid’s head looks ultra flammable.

  • http://www.aaronbrownphotos.com Aaron Brown

    This kid’s head looks ultra flammable.

  • Jhonah_femmefaves

     really cool! :D

  • guest

    This is great info, fun and creative. I see no reason to criticize this guy, he was just formulating his thoughts and using subtle humor. Internet people…

  • guest

    This is great info, fun and creative. I see no reason to criticize this guy, he was just formulating his thoughts and using subtle humor. Internet people…

  • M_M

    you dont have IQ point to lose

  • Mfazucena

    great!!!

  • Mfazucena

    great!!!

  • Mfazucena

    great!!!

  • Anirdeuri

    Thanks for this I have been experimenting a lot and this is what I needed 

  • http://profiles.google.com/valentin.uzunov Valentin Uzunov

    Definitely will try this weekend for sure! Thanks dude

  • Mjimages

    Excellent instruction… I would put the saftey at the beginning and reinforce at the end.  Nothing wrong with his voice.   Appears that someone my have a personal issue.   Great job…

  • Poppy

    Fantastic…..thanx a million, off to look for a suitable location. Can’t wait to try this out :))

  • Sarah

    Winter with snow on the ground: best time to do this!

  • prinkle13

    wanna try!! it’s so cool~
    how i wished i’ll had a pretty amazing shots!
    thanks a bunch!!!

  • kai leigh

    First of all this guy is annoying. However, I have tried this. I am actually doing it agaim tonight. It’s really fun to do in the rain. Oh and by the way it doesnt catch things on fire very easily. I have done it on grass, in a tree etc. I’ve done it everywhere you can think of. Its fun to do. Btw you can use any kind of cable. I use a nylon rope. You can use anything that spins.

  • Poi Toy

    I’ve used chains instead of cable, only because I had a hard time getting the cable to stay taped together around the whisk. I usually do this with two strings (called comet in the fire poi industry) but recommend 1 for first timers. It is quite harrowing your first time so take it easy and always be safe. (also if you have the ability, do it in the water of a lake or the ocean, the sparks hitting the water is pretty cool.)