• Facebook

    500 K / likes

  • Twitter

    1 M / followers

Beware: Light Painting with Steel Wool Can Be Hazardous to Your Lens’ Health


The beautiful light painting photo you see here was created using steel wool (here’s a tutorial on the technique). Basically, you fix some steel wool on the end of a rope, set it on fire by rubbing a 9V battery against it, and then swing it around to fling sparks all over the place. While it’s becoming a pretty common photo project, it can also be hazardous to your lens’ — and your body’s — health. Jon Beard, the photographer behind this photo, learned the hard way. See that thick yellow line in the upper right hand corner? That’s one of the bits of burning metal striking his $2,000 Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G lens.

Here’s what he found on his camera lens after the shot:

It’s a piece of molten steel that landed on (and fused to) the front element of his lens. Beard is now trying to figure out the best way to remove the steel without damaging the lens further.

Let that be a lesson to all of you who do steel wool photography: always use a filter if possible (the Nikon 14-24mm doesn’t support filters), and always wear eye protection!

Update: Turns out that there are in fact products out there that can help you attach a filter to your 14-24mm. (Thx Christian!)

Image credit: Photographs by Jon Beard and used with permission