There are a number of both tutorials on fire spinning & photography, as well as a huge number of stunning images that people have made with long exposure and steel wool. The other night, I wanted to try something different – a really simple approach to this technique – exploring a complete black background and as much pure symmetry / reflection as possible. I also wanted to be able to capture the entire spray of sparks – with a wide enough lens that the whole scene was captured.
A Still Pond
To do this, we spun at the millennium ponds in Castlegar, BC which gave near perfectly still water. The camera was placed on one end of the pond, and the spinner at the other, just on the edge of the sandy shore.
I used both 85mm, 50mm, and 28mm focal lengths in order to try to capture a wide enough angle to get all the sparks in the image. In the end, I wish I had shot wider, as many of the shots had sparks still flying out of the image area.
For the first time, I explored shooting the fire spinning using bulb mode. This allowed me to more actively capture specific moments within all the chaos of sparks. For every shoot I had done up to this point, I always tried to capture the whole show – often a 20 second or 30 second exposure. For this shoot though, I explored shorted moments of time. I felt much more present for the shoot, I really watch what was happening, and actively tried to capture intervals of time that had a flow to them. Simply watching the fire spinning with the naked eye is incredible. We both spun till our fingers bled.
You can learn more about the overall technique here: