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Fiery Nightlife

Published January 21st, 2013

Decided in the morning that we were going out shooting this foggy Saturday night. Wanted to take my friend Brian, a fellow photographer who only shoots landscapes, out and show him the other more exciting, creative and most importantly fun side of photography.

So Brian, my son and I set out around 9pm to shoot some spinning steel wool shots and possibly some make shift molotov cocktail images. First stop was this short, steel train bridge in north Portland. I had scoped it out a few days and figured it would make for a great shot with the sparks illuminating the bridge. It took a bit for our wool spinner to get out on the bridge and get going because he is afraid of heights and could see how high up it was through the train tracks. Once he got the first spin out of the way it was a piece of cake. We did a few takes and decided to call it quits once we saw a cop car slowly roll by with his spot light on the sides of the road.

Next spot was a tunnel in a closed off area off a freeway in southwest Washington near the Oregon border. We parked about a half mile away, got to the shoulder of the freeway and hoofed it the rest of the way while hoping a state trooper wouldn't stop and ask what we were doing on the side of the highway in dark clothing with a bag holding what would appear to be a molotov cocktail and a bag full of steel wool pads, a whisk and some 9 volt batteries. It was pitch black in the tunnel, we used a headlamp to light up our camera setups and would kill it during the spins. We captured a few good images each. Played around a little with the molotov picture but called it quits around 2am when we were all freezing. It was about 26°F out and some of us were a little underdressed. But before leaving we ran up the side of the hill the tunnel was on and got one last image of a steel wool burn in the middle of the railroad tracks.

All in all it was a fun night. We got some good images. Had some excitement and best of all no one froze to death. Hope you enjoy my images.

Steel Bridge Burn

Steel wool burn on a steel bridge in north Portland.


Anonymous urban soldier.


Wide Wool

Tried a different device to hold the wool in. Gave us a broader ring but burned out in about 10 seconds.


Hilltop Spin

Last shot of the night on top of the hill for the train tracks.


Men At Work

Brian in the tunnel shooting an attempt at a steel wool orb. It could work, but we need some practice.

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Marcus Shapiro  almost 5 years ago

great shots! I hope to do some steel wool shots near a local bridge, do you have any advice?

Ruandy Albisurez  almost 5 years ago

Just get the basics. A whisk (or anything else you can stuff the wool into that won't burn.), steel wool (only use 0/00/000 rated wool), and a 9 volt battery lights it up faster and easier than a lighter. Just bring a few 9 volts because it drains them pretty quick, especially if its cold out. And cover up so you don't get sparks burning the spinner, gloves too. About a 15-20 second shutter should do it, thats about the sweet spot. Have fun Marcus!