Steel Wool Photography: Video How To

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The guys at Photo Extremist have put together this cool video that shows you how to create stunning fiery images using nothing more than steel wool, an egg whisk and a cable.

Also check out the Trick Photography eBook mentioned in this video that is packed with all kinds of special effects photography. It covers Long exposure effects, light painting, HDR photography, gives some fun photoshop projects plus a heap more.

Note: Please do take note of the warnings in this video about safety! While the images are great they’re not worth getting burned for or starting a bush fire!

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • Hi

    OK, I have now found a project for the weekend! Thanks for sharing!

    Best regards, Erik

  • Sparklers can be used as well, but you will not get quite the extent of trails.

    http://2zars.com/photoblog/2010/07/july-4th/

  • This is awesome! Can’t wait to try it out.

  • Dave Witherell

    That was awesome. Should be able to get some really great effects using this method.

  • I’m always game for doing something stupid in the name of art and creativity. I think I will save this for those long dark winter nights, less people and cars about and if I accidentally set fire to my hat I will at least stay warm!

  • Great idea for a day (or 2) of my Project 365. Thanks!!

    my page

  • GradyPhilpott

    Out West, we have been through a horrendous fire season and not just the ones most of you have heard about in the news.

    This is not a cool trick, in my judgement, because the risks are so high.

    Anything thing that has so many caveats in the video, usually has the disclaimer, “Do not try this at home.”

    It’d probably be safe in the middle of a plowed field or one that is covered in a foot of snow, but you’re still faced with the possibility of setting yourself on fire and believe me, that’s not cool.

  • Miguel

    Super cool. Congatulations on this video and also on the book!

  • The dude in the video seriously needs a haircut and a good shave.
    Oh – and is it me or does he come across as repeating mundane details far too often??

  • scottc
  • LaLossiah
  • Ciara

    Just shows you photography is limitless love this want to try it but not sure if I have the balls lol woner if it would work putting it hanging from a rotary clothes line and moving the clothes line instead at least you could stand back from the sparks???

  • I’ve taken some similar shots in an old industrial area. I really like this atmosphere of old heavy industry facilities like boilers, chimneys, etc. in the background of the steel wool firework.

    http://www.shutter-lag.com/2011/07/steel-wool-fireworks/

  • Hey Darren, thanks for the promo! 😀

    – Evan

  • interesting…. wanna try but fear for the garden shed burning down..

  • Diane Huizenga

    Outstanding, I have to try this, do you have a hard copy of that book, I would like to buy one. Email me please.

  • Lisa

    I think this looks SUPER cool, but my favorite part of the video is the suggestion that you should wear long sleeves on your legs as well! But this is AWESOME!

  • Cool, Will try it someday.

  • Al

    @ Robbie Lopez – why not leave out the nasty personal comments and respond to the idea rather?

  • Linda

    Excellent video I will be trying this soon.

  • In this shot I did it with two…

  • Mel

    Like several people who’ve commented, I’m probably too scared to try this even though I think it would produce some very cool results. Would camera settings be much the same for a snow-covered field at night? Also wondering if this technique would work on a very overcast, heavily fogged-in day?

  • Viana

    Terrific idea! However, since I live in a region of extreme fire danger, where thousands of acres are burning, I shall save this until winter when there is lots of snow cover.

    I also agree with Robbie Lopez. The slovenly look of the presenter is repelling! I kept asking myself why he didn’t get a haircut, a shave and wear a decent looking shirt, when he most likely wanted viewers to pay attention to what he was saying. The weird faces the guy makes are also off-putting.

    But, hey! Sloppy and weird are “in” these days.

    Still, I shall check out the book and other videos.

    Thanks for the info.

  • Great weekend project, can’t wait to try it!

  • Very cool idea!!! Can’t wait to try it out. Thanks for the idea.
    And, I agree that he is in need of a clean up, but it’s really not that big of a deal. Seems like a cool guy.

  • Love the E-book too!!

  • Nick Ryan

    Maybe for extra safety dampen all the ground around your chosen area with a hose first?

  • gturner

    Sparklers work better for writing names etc, the wool works better for patterns

  • Jodie

    Really people – this guy is sharing his photography tricks with you all and all you care about is how he looks. That is really shallow and pathetic. Perhaps some of you are better of trying this with cotton wool anyway.

    Anyway – thanks photoExtremist for sharing your technique, this is something I will definately ‘give a whirl’

  • Geepers

    Using steel wool is an old campers trick for STARTING fires, so yes safety is paramount. Steel burns HOT, and STAYS hot for a long time. It can kindle a fire long after you think it’s “gone out.” So play safe, and make some great images.

  • Awesome!… headed to the beach to give this a run!…

    MEL — you could get some awesome results on snow! and I reckon fogged in would be cool, too… try it! Post back here…

    Sime // dPS Customer Service

  • Steve Savoie

    Will most be likely to try this but will wait until conditions get better ! A bit dry these days .
    Thanks !!

  • Dianne Paine

    Hi Darren,
    I’m a subscriber to your weekly emails which depending on how much time I get each week I enjoy reading bits and pieces from. I’ve really enjoyed your video of doing the fire with the steel wool.. Interesting technique.
    You’ve put together a great video, very comprehensive and informative…. I must try it out for fun some time.
    Cheers
    Dianne

  • Great tip. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to finding some places to make some spark shots.

  • Hi

    Tried this yesterday – here are the results!

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/the-ring-of-fire/

  • Ann Ingham

    I think this would be great if you were standing in water and got the reflections of the steel wool. worth trying thankyou.

  • aldhien

    awesome n interesting idea

  • Personally, I find the tutorial rather interesting and can appreciate the points regarding “caution.” One can never be too cautious when playing with fire. Thanks for the tips and the instruction. Easy to understand.
    Lastly, I don’t think that one’s looks make or break a deal. It didn’t for Albert Einstein. 😉

Some Older Comments

  • Kathy July 28, 2011 12:50 am

    Personally, I find the tutorial rather interesting and can appreciate the points regarding "caution." One can never be too cautious when playing with fire. Thanks for the tips and the instruction. Easy to understand.
    Lastly, I don't think that one's looks make or break a deal. It didn't for Albert Einstein. ;)

  • aldhien July 27, 2011 05:57 pm

    awesome n interesting idea

  • Ann Ingham July 26, 2011 06:19 pm

    I think this would be great if you were standing in water and got the reflections of the steel wool. worth trying thankyou.

  • Erik Kerstenbeck July 26, 2011 06:36 am

    Hi

    Tried this yesterday - here are the results!

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/the-ring-of-fire/

  • David G. July 26, 2011 01:19 am

    Great tip. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to finding some places to make some spark shots.

  • Dianne Paine July 25, 2011 10:12 am

    Hi Darren,
    I'm a subscriber to your weekly emails which depending on how much time I get each week I enjoy reading bits and pieces from. I've really enjoyed your video of doing the fire with the steel wool.. Interesting technique.
    You've put together a great video, very comprehensive and informative.... I must try it out for fun some time.
    Cheers
    Dianne

  • Steve Savoie July 23, 2011 11:56 pm

    Will most be likely to try this but will wait until conditions get better ! A bit dry these days .
    Thanks !!

  • Sime July 23, 2011 01:06 pm

    Awesome!... headed to the beach to give this a run!...

    MEL -- you could get some awesome results on snow! and I reckon fogged in would be cool, too... try it! Post back here...

    Sime // dPS Customer Service

  • Geepers July 23, 2011 08:55 am

    Using steel wool is an old campers trick for STARTING fires, so yes safety is paramount. Steel burns HOT, and STAYS hot for a long time. It can kindle a fire long after you think it's "gone out." So play safe, and make some great images.

  • Jodie July 22, 2011 08:12 pm

    Really people - this guy is sharing his photography tricks with you all and all you care about is how he looks. That is really shallow and pathetic. Perhaps some of you are better of trying this with cotton wool anyway.

    Anyway - thanks photoExtremist for sharing your technique, this is something I will definately 'give a whirl'

  • gturner July 22, 2011 04:49 pm

    Sparklers work better for writing names etc, the wool works better for patterns

  • Nick Ryan July 22, 2011 10:52 am

    Maybe for extra safety dampen all the ground around your chosen area with a hose first?

  • Kchased July 22, 2011 10:17 am

    Love the E-book too!!

  • Kchased July 22, 2011 10:15 am

    Very cool idea!!! Can't wait to try it out. Thanks for the idea.
    And, I agree that he is in need of a clean up, but it's really not that big of a deal. Seems like a cool guy.

  • Dianne July 22, 2011 09:58 am

    Great weekend project, can't wait to try it!

  • Viana July 22, 2011 04:14 am

    Terrific idea! However, since I live in a region of extreme fire danger, where thousands of acres are burning, I shall save this until winter when there is lots of snow cover.

    I also agree with Robbie Lopez. The slovenly look of the presenter is repelling! I kept asking myself why he didn’t get a haircut, a shave and wear a decent looking shirt, when he most likely wanted viewers to pay attention to what he was saying. The weird faces the guy makes are also off-putting.

    But, hey! Sloppy and weird are “in” these days.

    Still, I shall check out the book and other videos.

    Thanks for the info.

  • Mel July 22, 2011 04:02 am

    Like several people who've commented, I'm probably too scared to try this even though I think it would produce some very cool results. Would camera settings be much the same for a snow-covered field at night? Also wondering if this technique would work on a very overcast, heavily fogged-in day?

  • Eugene Lagana July 22, 2011 03:42 am

    In this shot I did it with two...

  • Linda July 22, 2011 03:24 am

    Excellent video I will be trying this soon.

  • Al July 22, 2011 02:30 am

    @ Robbie Lopez - why not leave out the nasty personal comments and respond to the idea rather?

  • Steve July 22, 2011 01:40 am

    Cool, Will try it someday.

  • Lisa July 22, 2011 01:38 am

    I think this looks SUPER cool, but my favorite part of the video is the suggestion that you should wear long sleeves on your legs as well! But this is AWESOME!

  • Diane Huizenga July 22, 2011 12:23 am

    Outstanding, I have to try this, do you have a hard copy of that book, I would like to buy one. Email me please.

  • bycostello July 21, 2011 05:44 pm

    interesting.... wanna try but fear for the garden shed burning down..

  • PhotoExtremist July 21, 2011 03:24 pm

    Hey Darren, thanks for the promo! :D

    - Evan

  • Shutterlag July 21, 2011 01:17 pm

    I've taken some similar shots in an old industrial area. I really like this atmosphere of old heavy industry facilities like boilers, chimneys, etc. in the background of the steel wool firework.

    http://www.shutter-lag.com/2011/07/steel-wool-fireworks/

  • Ciara July 21, 2011 12:09 pm

    Just shows you photography is limitless love this want to try it but not sure if I have the balls lol woner if it would work putting it hanging from a rotary clothes line and moving the clothes line instead at least you could stand back from the sparks???

  • LaLossiah July 21, 2011 09:42 am

    This stuff goes perfect with urbexing!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lalossiah/5628236227/in/photostream

  • scottc July 21, 2011 09:24 am

    Got to try this one!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/

  • Robbie Lopez July 21, 2011 08:08 am

    The dude in the video seriously needs a haircut and a good shave.
    Oh - and is it me or does he come across as repeating mundane details far too often??

  • Miguel July 21, 2011 06:19 am

    Super cool. Congatulations on this video and also on the book!

  • GradyPhilpott July 21, 2011 03:14 am

    Out West, we have been through a horrendous fire season and not just the ones most of you have heard about in the news.

    This is not a cool trick, in my judgement, because the risks are so high.

    Anything thing that has so many caveats in the video, usually has the disclaimer, "Do not try this at home."

    It'd probably be safe in the middle of a plowed field or one that is covered in a foot of snow, but you're still faced with the possibility of setting yourself on fire and believe me, that's not cool.

  • Carolyn Chentnik July 21, 2011 02:52 am

    Great idea for a day (or 2) of my Project 365. Thanks!!

    my page

  • Fuzzypiggy July 21, 2011 02:16 am

    I'm always game for doing something stupid in the name of art and creativity. I think I will save this for those long dark winter nights, less people and cars about and if I accidentally set fire to my hat I will at least stay warm!

  • Dave Witherell July 21, 2011 02:13 am

    That was awesome. Should be able to get some really great effects using this method.

  • SJCT July 21, 2011 02:10 am

    This is awesome! Can't wait to try it out.

  • Wayne July 21, 2011 02:00 am

    Sparklers can be used as well, but you will not get quite the extent of trails.

    http://2zars.com/photoblog/2010/07/july-4th/

  • Erik Kerstenbeck July 21, 2011 01:35 am

    Hi

    OK, I have now found a project for the weekend! Thanks for sharing!

    Best regards, Erik

  • Jeff E Jensen July 21, 2011 01:16 am

    Yeah, these are a lot of fun:

    http://jeffejensen.blogspot.com/2011/07/painting-with-light.html

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