How to do Steel Wool Photography

So, I wanted to feature one specific image I got as it was really fun to do. Here is the steel wool photography pic I got one night at Crab Meadow Beach in Northport, NY:

If you look closely in the middle of the pic you can see my shadow. This was the 1st and only time I've done a pic like this, but I'd like to do another in time for sure! So here's the equipment you need to do this: 

1. Tripod
2. Cooking Wisk
3. Dog leash
4. Steel Wool
5. Propane Lighter (Grill lighters don't work as I tried them, especially if it's windy)
6. 2 people

Here's a pic (from my phone) of all of the items so you know what they look like:

And here's what you need to do in order to get a pic like this:
1. Put the steel wool in the cooking wisk
2. Attach a dog leash to the end of the cooking wisk
3. Set up your camera on your tripod
4. Put it in MANUAL mode and start with 20 sec. shutter speed, f/8 aperture, and ISO 100. Leave the ISO at 100 as there will be enough light from the steel wool once you light it. If you need to adjust to allow more light into the camera you can always go to 25 sec. or adjust the aperture a little.
5. *IMPORTANT* Mark a spot to where the person will be standing and lighting the steel wool on fire. Make sure the camera is in AUTO FOCUS (also turn the image stabilizer OFF whenever you are using a tripod so nothing inside the lens is moving when doing a long exposure) and shine a light on them in order to FOCUS your lens on them. After you put your focus point on them and focus the lens switch the lens to MANUAL focus. That way when you hit the shutter button it won't be searching for the focus as it is already in focus.
6. Take your propane lighter (only about $20 at a hardware store), fire it up, and light the steel wool on fire, then spin it in a circle until it goes out.

CLICK HERE to watch a really good video that demonstrates what I just explained. 

CLICK HERE to browse the "Night Photography" series to see the different photos I have gotten including the "Steel Wool Photography" picture.

So now you have the knowledge on how to do Steel Wool Photography and all you need to do is go out and do it! So what are you waiting for? Grab your camera, get all the supplies, and go have some fun! I'd love to see the pictures you get from trying this too! 

If you found this post helpful please share with anyone that would find this info useful!

Click here to go to the Steel Wool Light Painting pic


Steven Archdeacon