photo using a technique

I created this photo using a technique called steel wool spinning* (you can look it up online to see more examples). This involves stuffing steel wool inside a whisk, tying the whisk to a piece of string, then setting the steel wool alight and asking someone to whirl the whisk around. The burning steel wool flies out and is recorded by the camera during a long exposure. * Note: Steel wool spinning is potentially dangerous and my model is a trained fire performer who is comfortable dealing with flammable objects. I wrote an article about the process in more detail on my web site, which you can read here . On no account should you try this without carrying out the safety procedures listed in the article. Is that all that’s required to create an image like this? No. You won’t be surprised to learn that there’s more to it than that. Here is a list of the things that were going through my mind when I took the photo. Don’t worry if you don’t understand what I am talking about just yet, it will be explained as we go through the ebook. • A slow shutter speed. Learn more at and
 The shutter was open for 15 seconds. That does two things. One, it gave my model plenty of time to whirl the whisk stuffed with burning steel wool around her head and for the sparks to fly out and be recorded by the camera. Two, and this is harder to see right away, the long shutter speed blurred the motion of the water in the harbour so that it has a kind of misty effect in the final photo. Learn more at
• Choice of setting. My model is standing on a concrete walkway that leads over the sea to a lighthouse. You can see the lights of the city behind her and the silhouettes of distant hills on the horizon. You need to chose the right location for a photo like this to work. • Time of day. The photo was taken at dusk, after the sun had set. This meant that it was dark enough to record the sparks. But more importantly, the light at this time of evening is beautiful. The quality of the ambient light is just as important as the setting. • Composition. I used a wide-angle lens on my camera and got as close to the sparks as I safely could. 
This has created a sense of nearness and drama that you only get by moving close to your subject with the camera. The sparks seem as is if they are flying right at the camera. • Colour contrast. There is a strong contrast between the blue water and sky and the orange of the light trails created by the flying sparks and the lights across the water. This is caused by a phenomena called colour temperature, which I will talk more about later in the ebook. • Post-processing. I darkened the sky above the hills and intensified the strength of the orange and blue tones when I processed the image. I did this in Lightroom. Post- processing is beyond the scope of this ebook, but it’s only fair to point out that you won’t get an image like this straight out of the camera. It needs some work to bring the best out of it. This is true of most images.