Week 1: Sparklers!

So in line with the week one task, and per my post earlier this week, I’ve completed the steel-wool sparklers for my “celebration” images!

I had to get a little creative with the construction of my sparklers, since the “recipe” called for the use of whisks to hold the steel wool.  Well, those were about $5 a pop, so I went with the more economically sensible metal skewers.  To my surprise, they actually worked pretty well.  If you want to try it out on your own, just find some metal skewers, take a pair of pliers, and bend them into a spiral shape.  Then take your steel wool, fluff it out a bit, and secure it around the skewer by piercing it, and weaving it along the spiral.  Once you’re all set, tie a rope to the skewer (I found ones with little circular hooks on the end, which were great!), and touch a 9-volt battery to the steel wool to ignite the spark!  You need to make sure that your spark can get plenty of oxygen for this to work; as you can see, our first few attempts were not too successful…

hmmm…not quite…

nope, that didn’t work

…Once you get the hang of it, however, you can get some pretty awesome results!  I found that the more stretched out the wool is, the more sparkles you’re going to get.  Once you’re getting to the end of your sparkler, or if you didn’t separate the wool enough, you get a much more solid line when capturing the image, which still provides some pretty interesting effects.  To get the “trail” effect of the sparklers, I took all of the following pictures at a somewhat long exposure of 4 seconds, and at an f/4.5, which I think turned out pretty well!  It allows for just the light of the sparklers to be captured, while leaving nearly all of the background completely dark.  Check it out!

I had a great time doing this shoot, even though, as you may have noticed with the snow on the ground, it was freezing outside!  That did work to our advantage, though.  If you give this a try at home, be careful!  Pieces of the wool will fall/fly off as it’s being burned and twirled around, which can be a fire hazard, so be prepared, and wear something that you won’t mind getting burned (you know, just incase you’re a little clumsy and hit yourself with it!).

Party's over

Party’s over

Thanks to my friend Paulette, who I always somehow convince to help me with my photo experiments.  Looking forward to taking more pictures in week two!

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