Spectacular Spinning Wire Wool Photography

11 February, 2021

Spectacular spinning wire wool photography

Every genre of photography has the capacity to produce spectacular moments where you capture images that can take your breath away, but there’s nothing quite as exhilarating as wire wool photography.

With just a few simple props you can create magical images that take light painting to the next level – however, it’s not for the faint-hearted!

Canvases with wire wool art
What is it?

In the simplest of terms, it’s setting fire to wire wool and spinning it around your head while your camera captures the light trails at a slow shutter speed. If that sounds like a crazy and dangerous way to spend an evening you may be correct, but if you take the relevant safety precautions we can assure that you’ll soon be hooked!

Wire Wool Photography
What do you need?

It’s time to raid the kitchen and head down to your local DIY centre for the supplies necessary to try out this fun technique. You’ll need:

1. Wire wool – the finer grade the better, so look for 0000 ideally, but anything down to 00 will work.

2. A metal whisk – it might be a good idea to buy a dedicated one rather than pinch the one from your kitchen because it’s not going to survive this experience entirely unscathed!

3. String – any strong string will do just fine.

4. Protective gloves and safety glasses.

5. A lighter.

As long as your camera has a manual mode and the capability to shoot at shutter speeds of at least 30 seconds you’ll be fine. Attach it to a tripod, grab a willing accomplice, wait until dark, and head off somewhere secluded and safe.

Wire Wool Art
A word on safety

Whenever you’re using fire it’s imperative that you take the utmost precautions to ensure that you practice safely away from cars, property, and people. Ideal locations for wire spinning are the beach, secluded rocky landscapes, abandoned industrial areas, or more natural surroundings after a rainfall (to prevent sparks causing fires). Wear gloves when dealing with the sharp wool, long sleeves, hats and glasses to protect from sparks and make sure the area is free from fire when you leave.

Let’s get spinning!

So how do we do this?

Pull a handful of wire wool from the pack, separate the strands and push loosely into the whisk.
Tie the string securely to the end of the whisk – about 3 feet long is ideal.

Meter the scene at f/8, ISO 100 to be 2 stops underexposed. You need about 10-15 seconds exposure time to capture this successfully.

Manually preset your focus and ensure your camera is far enough away not to be affected by the sparks.

Wearing your safety gear set fire to the wool and spin!

It may take a few tries to get the hang of this, but once you get a handle on the technique you’ll never look back. Experiment with including the scene in your shot, underexposing completely for different looks, spinning vertically and horizontally or both together to create a ball of light and even adding other light painting techniques to the finished shot.

Wire wool photography
Wire wool photography

Once you’ve created some images you love send the files over to us and we’ll print them onto canvas for you – they make great quirky Christmas presents!

Tags night sky canvas, fire, motion images

11 February, 2021


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