Pissing around with a camera and wire wool at night

How I persuaded Mary to stand in the freezing cold while I flung sparks at her is still a mystery. Nonetheless, after the sun went down this evening we ventured to Swanbourne Lake in Arundel.

"Sheltering from Sparks" (Mary holds an umbrella over her head while sparks rain down around her) — 5 seconds at f2.8 / ISO: 400 / Focal Length: 17mm

I’d scouted this location a couple of weeks ago. That evening I’d managed to fire off a few shots in the old boat-house before being chased away by an angry swan. This time we ventured further around the lake and found a spot where several low trees grow out into the lake, their spider-leg branches submerged here and there.

The goal for tonight was that staple of light-painting; “Sheltering from Sparks”. The key to this photo is having a long enough shutter speed to capture the sparks and paint in your subject, but not so long that any movement picked up. Mary was excellent at holding still, but holding an umbrella and yourself perfectly still for ten seconds is almost impossible. In the end we found that an exposure of 5-6 seconds was the longest Mary could manage without moving at all.

There are probably other ways that this photo could be done, but as there was only two of us, I had to start off the timer, light the wire-wool and spin the sparks. So, rather than painting Mary in separately, I set up two flashlights just far enough away to gently build-up the light over the course of the exposure.

I’m pretty pleased with the results of this evening’s outing, and now that I know I have a willing model I might be calling on her services again for some other photo ideas I have. Lucky her…