Shutter: 30 seconds, Aperture: f/8, ISO: 200, Lens: 15mm fisheye

Monday night was supposed to be the peak viewing time for the Perseid meteor shower, so I drove about an hour and a half away from DC to try and get good shots of some shooting stars. However the moon was an almost-full waning gibbus, lighting up the sky, and it was just around 40 degrees out, so I did not get any good meteor shots at all. As to avoid the whole trip being a bust, I decided to finally try the flaming steel wool trick with a long exposure, and it came out pretty well! Click below for some instructions and a few other examples, and some bonus video!

That's a plane
Shutter: 10 seconds, Aperture: f/2.8, ISO: 800, Lens: 15mm fisheye

First off, that’s a plane. I’ve gotten shooting star photos without even trying from this spot during really clear nights in the summer, but I thought with a predicted meteor shower, I’d get a lot more. If you want to see my best long-exposures with shooting stars and the Milky Way, check out my article about shooting in the Las Vegas desert. This was not the case on this night, so I decided to try my hand at those fireball long exposures. Here is a video showing my experience.

Watch in HD

The PetaPixel video tutorial I originally watched is actually very funny and helpful, so if you want to get a shot like this, absolutely watch that video for important safety considerations. And if you just finished watching my 2 minute video, my aunt Riggin is just fine.

Shutter: 30 seconds, Aperture: f/8.0, Lens: 15mm, ISO: 200

This is the shot where I spun in a circle and almost lit my aunt on fire. I would try this again in a parking lot (we were on a strip of road) with the camera (and assistant) further away. I’m also thinking we could have another person do some light writing in front of the array to create a bit more depth.

Shutter: 30 seconds, Aperture: f/8.0, Lens: 15mm, ISO: 200

The fireball was a fun experiment, but a lot of people do it, and share their “recipe” on how to do it, so I feel I didn’t really break any new ground here. This is more craft than art. It was fun, and I’m trying to come up with something unique I could add to the activity to make it a bit more mine. One thing I wanted to try was this cool bridge support, but we were a bit anxious about the lack of warning time we’d have if a car was coming from around the bend. I think I need a couple of people and some walkie talkies to make this work.

Shutter: 30 seconds, Aperture: f/8.0, Lens: 15mm, ISO: 200


I did this a few more times, I didn’t think it was worth a whole separate blog post. So I went back to Harper’s Ferry and did the shot I was aiming for under the bridge. I wanted the sparks to bounce off of the steel girders above me, and define this dark space. It was a little bit dangerous as I was standing right next to the road at a blindspot. So if a car did come around the corner, I’d have to act fast and jump out of the way.

Shutter: 56 seconds, Aperture: f/8.0, Lens: 15mm, ISO: 200

This took about 5 tries, and it’s still not perfect. I wanted the fireball to surround the name of this camp, so I did the fireball exposure for 30 seconds, then I shown a flashlight all over the sign. We shot this on bulb setting, meaning the shutter is open as long as you hold down the button. I absolutely recommend a remote for that, otherwise you will shake the camera pressing down that long. The flashlight on the sign overpowered the residual glow on my shoulder, but could not beat out that errant stripe right in the middle of the A. Rats.

Fireball in the water
Shutter: 30 seconds, Aperture: f/8.0, Lens: 15mm, ISO: 200

So you saw my post about going to North Carolina. Since we were on the beach, I thought we’d give this a try, standing in the surf. I wanted to see what the sparks looked like hitting the water, and I wanted a bit of reflective glow. This is an ok shot, but I don’t think it’s very remarkable. I feel I have gotten the extent out of this effect, I need to incorporate other elements and concepts to do anything noteworthy with it now. It’s fun, and others enjoy watching the process, but there’s not much I can do with this image.

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