One of the things I like best about my choice of career is meeting up with other photographers and heading out to try something new. Granted, setting steel wool on fire and photographing it has been done plenty of times before, but just like the Diet Coke and Mentos thing - you have to try it for yourself.
Last night Steve and I met up with our friends Jason and Leo in Raglan to play a game called Ingress. Yes, we are among those people who stand around, staring at our phones, then striding determinedly to some apparently indeterminate spot about 20 meters away. If you've not heard of Ingress, think of Geocaching crossed with Capture the Flag and you're somewhere in the vicinity.
After an hour or two of Ingressing (or Portalling, as some other friends call it), we got some fish'n'chips from Mama T's shop and headed to the beach. We wanted to try Leo's experiment during what's known as the 'blue hour', which is the rapidly darkening hour of twilight right before the light finally disappears.
After a couple of shots to test exposure, we set about the somewhat arduous task of lighting a steel wool pad in a fairly strong wind. We learned that steel wool pads with soap are probably not the best choice and that the water is still pretty darn cold here in November, especially if you're standing barefeet in it while trying to light the wool. But Leo was a trooper and took one for the team, even burning his thumb in the process. And here are the results. Not bad for a first attempt and definitely something I'm going to try again.
Here's what you need:
- Steel wool pads, kitchen whisk, paper, lighter, thin rope (preferably something that won't catch fire).
Tie the rope to the whisk, stuff the steel wool into the bulb end of the whisk, light it then swing in circles. Be careful not to do it too close to people or anything flammable, as there is a chance that the steel wool will be flung out, as in the first and last photos.
30sec at f/14, ISO 200, 28mm