I’ve been an admirer of this technique for a little while having seen some great examples on flickr like this one from one my contacts. Having done some research, it’s actually rather simple to create fire spinning shots like this. Tools required include some wire wool (thinner grade the better), a whisk or bulldog clip, a lighter, some string (enough to allow you to swing the whisk/bulldog clip safely), a camera that allows for long shutter speeds, tripod and a remote shutter release. Here’s a quick guide:
- Wear some old clothing you’re not going to mind if it gets singed. Gloves and a hood or hat will protect you along with safety goggles for your eyes.
- Tie the string to the end of the bulldog clip or whisk and then put a wad of wool in the whisk. Also loosening up the wool slightly will allow more oxygen to get to the wool and create more sparks.
- Find a dark open area away from flammable objects and avoiding dry grass or foliage. Set up your tripod and camera to point where you intend to spin, checking the zoom to ensure you and as much of your spin area are in frame. Set an exposure time of between 15 and 30 seconds.
- Stand in your spinning position and using your remote shutter release start your exposure. Use your lighter to light the wire wool. As soon as it starts sparking, begin to spin the whisk/clip in a circular motion using the string to distance yourself from the sparking wool. Continue spinning until all the sparks have stopped.
- The exposure will end. Remember that standing still will cause your figure to appear in the shot, if this is not what you want, try to keep moving throughout the shot to avoid ghosting. Before leaving the area, make sure all sparks are thoroughly extinguished.
Additionally you can create extra interest by including an object such as a statue or different surroundings such as my first couple of shots which were taken in a tunnel. It was a good choice of location when taking these photos as it was wet and windy, the tunnels provided perfect cover and we were unlikely to be disturbed late at night, and the wind coming from behind us down the tunnel blew the sparks toward the camera to increase the depth and detail of the shots.
I’m really happy with the results of these photos, it’s a really simple technique that brings great results. These are the first couple of shots with my new Canon 40D which has already allowed me to advance my technique.
Thanks for looking,