Steel wool photography. Lightpainting with steel wool
Steel wool photography, steel wool burning or also light painting with steel wool can produce spectacular photos with slow shutter speeds. For the best results, use fine steel wool, but expert photographers prefer steel wool 0000. The coarser gradations are also suitable but burn less long. Feel free to experiment with this to see what gives the best effect.
What is needed for steel wool photography or light painting with steel wool
A commonly used method to spin the steel wool while burning is with a garder and a piece of chain. It is also possible with chicken wire. Make it into baskets and put the steel wool in it. For the best result, it is better to sift out the steel wool a little. Igniting the steel wool is possible with a 9-volt battery (block battery). By holding it against the steel wool you make a short circuit and that is enough to ignite it.
In addition, ensure a quiet place where no combustible materials are nearby. The star rain can go as far as 30 meters. When you wear dark clothing you are less visible in the photos. Do not forget safety glasses, gloves and a hat or cap.
Photographing burning steel wool
Photographed by Hans Eras with our steel wool
Provide an organized whole for steel wool photography or light painting with steel wool. Safety is always paramount.
Determine the location of the person who is going to swing with the burning steel wool. The photographer can then choose a location. If this indicates that he / she is at a safe distance and is satisfied with the composition, then illuminate the pendulum with a good flashlight. This allows the photographer to focus his camera. If the photographer has focused, he must put his lens on manual focus to prevent the camera from focusing again on the bright spots during light painting with steel wool.
The pendulum asks if everyone is ready and starts lighting the steel wool. Depending on the amount of steel wool and the camera settings you can take approximately 1 or more photos.
Camera settings for light painting with steel wool
Put your camera on a tripod because you work with slow shutter speeds. To get the picture as sharp as possible, it is best to set the aperture to small, for example at f / 18. This prevents overexposure.
Set the shutter speed to 15 seconds and ISO to 200 or 400, depending on the ambient light. Keep the ISO low to prevent noise. After the first photo, always check whether the photo is underexposed or overexposed. Change the settings if necessary.
Experimenting with the shutter speed gives varying results.
Do you have any tips or ideas yourself? We are curious about your experience and the results.