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Wheel of Fortune

As we staggered haphazardly under the dusky skies of Davenport State Beach setting up our precious cameras and tripods, we had no idea what to expect. Sure, we had see photos of prior experiments (that seemed to have never went awry) and sure, we saw all the fancy gear that would be used to create such fantastic effects and sure, we were explained how these things would work. But inspite of all that, my mind was a blank on what I would see and what my camera would capture.

 

That night of light-trail photography started out simple enough, with a few swings of burning steel wool in predictable directions. But pretty soon, we were experimenting, changing position, orientation, backlight, the scatter and the density of the steel wool itself. And what followed was a visual treat akin to the feeling I had had during my early years witnessing fireworks: yellow sparks and flames flying in all directions, dances with colorful lights and neon strobes, samples of fire breathing with corn starch, photographing a fire circle while sitting inside it, witnessing hot magnesium flakes flinging around everywhere and so much more.

 

Here is one such example with the stack at Davenport beach mildly lit up by a bright flashlight while one of the performers swings around steel wool that let off sparks everywhere. This required a 30s exposure at F5.6 and ISO 1250 (the 30s was to capture enough background light to light up the stack, but it still wasn't enough)

 

Davenport State Beach

CA USA

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Taken on July 27, 2012