What's up in the world of Steely Joe

adventures in photography and other stuff

Playing with Fire: Steel wool and light painting Photography

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I have been admiring the cool images created by other photographers by burning steel wool – just a quick Google search of “steel wool photography” gives you some amazing results! I studied up and decided that I would celebrate Labor Day by treating myself to an awesome session of throwing fire around. It’s easy enough to find directions on how to create the sparks, Photojojo has a nice simple tutorial. But since you can do this with a nice long shutter speed, why not add in some traditional light-painting as well?

Finding people to help with this when you are friends with a bunch of volcanologists turned out to be really easy (surprising, I know). The most difficult part of this project was finding a place where we could do it. People tend to freak out and call the cops if you try this kind of thing in a public area. It took a bit of scouting, but we found a great location with a big stretch of wet sand well away from anything that might catch on fire.

Three light sources:

Three light sources in this image are the spinning steel wool, a headlamp held in the models hand, and red and blue light wands held together to paint the swirls. Awesome! It looks like some kind of magic yoga.

3 light sources give this picture its unique look: the spinning steel wool, a Chinese lantern and a blue light wand for "painting" the ground.

3 light sources give this picture its unique look: the spinning steel wool, a Chinese lantern and a blue light wand for “painting” the ground. Amazing image right out of the camera!

Another 3-source image: the spinning steel wool fire, a Chinese lantern, and a green headlamp light. The model has to hold very still for this kind of result, which can be a challenge when sparks are flying around you. But look at the epic results!

 Want to see more? I posted some more from this session on my Facebook page: Steely Joe Studio on Facebook.

I am sure this will not be my last attempt at this style of photography. I see this more as a warm-up run for even more amazing creations in the future!

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Author: steelyjoe

I'm a recent PhD graduate at the University of South Florida in Tampa where my research focus was on developing accessible approaches to geology field work for students with disabilities, and Volcano Geophysics. I'm also a professional photographer (www.steeyjoestudio.com) and a board member of the Int. Association for Geoscience Diversity (theIAGD.org).

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