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Steel Wool

Published January 27th, 2013

Last summer I was introduced to steel wool photography by my friend Mike at a club meeting. It immediately turned into one of my favorite things to do. Unfortunately I learned about it at the beginning of summer right before the fire bans start so I only got one shoot in before anything that burning became illegal. Now it is winter, the fire bans are over and I have gone crazy doing steel wool. I love the creativity I have with light painting. My imagination just flows doing it.

Fire and Ice

We went in a cave and found Ice growing from the floor. What else do you do then but light paint it and spin some wool! We used a flashlight with a blue gel over it and painted the ice and wall. The puroles come from the blue and oranges or the steel wool mixing.

Canyon Fire

On the way to the cave we passed through this mini canyon thing. We thought it would be cool to burn some wool and light paint the foreground with the flashlight. I changed the direction of the spin mid spin and I kind of like how it looks (aside from the center circle being a bit oval shaped)

Multiple Wool

We stood in a freezing stream and spun five circles. I din't like the fifth so I cropped down. The foreground was lit with a flashlight.

  • January 12th, 2013
  • NIKON D90
  • 18mm / f/11 / 234 sec

Bridge Steel Wool

Steel wool on a bridge! We were spinning wool down on the shore getting reflections and I walked over to the end of the bridge to watch while my exposure ran and saw what I thought would be an awesome shot. Sparks flying off the bridge with a circle and reflection in the back ground. This is the result. I think it turned out great. If I ever get a wider lens I think I may try again and get the entire left circle in.

  • January 12th, 2013
  • NIKON D90
  • 18mm / f/11 / 41 sec


I think this is maybe my third or fourth steel wool shot I ever made. The photo club did a workshop on it and out club leader decided to get sparks thrown all over him.

  • May 12th, 2012
  • NIKON D90
  • 38mm / f/18 / 20 sec


We found this abandoned shed thing and spun wool all around it. This was my favorite of the set. We put a red light inside to light it. We also burned wool inside the shed but there was around five wasp nests in there and they didn't like it too much so we left after that haha.

  • May 12th, 2012
  • NIKON D90
  • 28mm / f/5.6 / 181 sec

Fire Power

I wish I could control fire. Spinning two at once! One of the lines broke during this shot and the clamp and burning wool flew off toward the camera! Oops.

  • June 4th, 2012
  • NIKON D90
  • 25mm / f/5 / 20 sec

Wool Landscape

I really really want to shoot steel wool with star trails in the sky.... I still haven't had the chance to do it yet. This is as close as I have gotten.

  • May 12th, 2012
  • NIKON D90
  • 18mm / f/8 / 277 sec

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