I broke the bottom off the wine bottle and stuck a piece of metal duct in to give it a longer "combustion chamber", and that whole mess was held up by a bike stand. I would trigger the shutter, light the steel wool in the duct and then use a blow dryer to blow some sparks down through the bottle and into the wine glass. This was all done in my garage at night, where the temperature was maybe 35 degrees. - Adam Marksteiner
Camera: Olympus E-500
20 second exposure
ISO 200

I've been wanting to take a photo like this with raining sparks for awhile now. Originally I had planned on using some 4th of July sparklers and doing it light-painting-style, but this steel wool technique turned out way better! I had my friend, Robyn, positioned on top of the wall in the background, waving our flaming whisk-on-a-stick, while I and our model, Veronica, hid under the umbrella—which is actually a photo umbrella, as you can tell by the nice bounce it gave the flash that was positioned behind us. It turns out that photo umbrellas aren't so good for protection though, because I ended up burning a button-sized hole into the shoulder of my shirt. - Angelico Tolentino

Canon 7D; 24mm; 20" at f/7.1; ISO-320; Flash at 1/2 power


3rd time is the charm I guess... I tried getting out to shoot on Friday and Saturday and both times I was unsuccessful. Sunday however, I was able to spend 45 minutes in the backyard just after dusk. I tried this over the summer after reading about it online, so I already had all the necessary ingredients to play with the molten steel wool. I used a piece of rope, tied to a whisk, and lit the steel wool with a lighter. I took some other great shots deep in the woods, and I even used a speedlight to light behind a tree. Once I had the shot set up, I had my Dad release the shutter. He was really excited to assist being a former pro photographer and Kodak retiree. I used Aperture to apply the stock Toy Camera preset. - Brendan Dence

Tech Specs:
ISO 100
5 Seconds
Shot in RAW

Canon EOS Rebel T3i
Tamron 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD
Canon Remote Switch
Sunpak tripod


Solar Flare

As soon as I saw this Contest I couldn't wait to get shooting. I wanted to try something a little different than the whisk on a rope in the tutorial video, so I came up with the idea of attaching it to a power drill and spinning it on high. Luckily to my surprise I didn't get burned! - Brian Georger


Canon 60D
EF 50mm f/1.8
Iso 200
30 Seconds
Minor color correcting in PS

I walked toward the camera towards the end of the exposure.
Pretty much followed the recommendations from the PhotoExtremist tutorial. Wearing a hat and goggles is a good idea - you can really feel the heat from the burning wool!
Taken with a Canon 60D, f/8.0, 15 second exposure, ISO 200. Slight hue and curves adjustment done in Paint.NET. - Brian Hall


The challenging part of this for me was finding a location in Boston where I would not be stopped by the Police for flinging sparks all over the place. A school yard soccer field worked out fine and I would love to experiment more with this technique in the future. So glad that I took the instructional advice to heart and wore a hat as I actually hit myself on the head with the burning steel wool during the photo.
Canon 7D with EF 24-105. 30 sec exposure at F6.3 and ISO 200. - Brian Jones


I used a Canon 500D on a tripod, with a canon EF-28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens at focal length 60mm, 200 ISO, at 30 sec, f/8. I tried to make a sphere but I wasn't able, turns out the photo was a great failure! I also got a hole in my sock because of a spark landing inside my shoe. - Caio Arantes

When I first saw this contest I had to give it a try, as I always wanted to know how these shots were done. When I learned it was made possible with simple household items, I ran out the dollar store and purchased all of my materials for under $5! I then recruited a few friends to help me out with the shooting and safety for these shots and we went outside, as it was still drizzling and took some amazing photographs! - Chris Petruccio
Nikon D5100
Tamron AF 18-270mm
Shutter Speed:
10 Seconds


My first Shooting Challenge. I took this Saturday night out in the road in front of my house. It was challenging not sending sparks at the camera lens. Being a new photographer, I don't have any filters, so I covered my lens in plastic wrap, thinking this might somehow offer protection. It did, my lens is just fine. However, it caused some really bad glare artifacts. I took out one of the worst with Photoshop, but left the rest in to avoid altering the photo to a distracting point. - Colton Babcock
Nikon D5100, Nikkor 18-55mm @18mm. f/14, ISO 100, 21.3s (bulb w/remote), tungsten WB. Cropped for straighten & glare artifact removed.


No story behind it really. It was shot Down town south bend IN in a local alley alot of photographers use for wedding photos and models. Its one of my favorite spots there. The bricks are gorgeous and reflect light really well. Its almost like they have a glossy coating on them. - Aaron Allen

Shutter Speed-20"

Camera-Canon 60d

Manual Exposure
Shot with a Canon 60d and a 28-135 lens on a Vanguard tracker 2 tripod.


We are a husband-wife team who love their cameras and are always on the lookout for a good photography challenge. When we read about this Steel-wool Gizmodo challenge, we jumped at the opportunity to do something different and exciting. Our biggest concern though, was looking for a place that we wouldn't burn down with our fiery sparks. So, after a lot of procrastination and brainstorming on where and how to do this, we decided it'd be safest if we let the sparks fall directly into the water.

We picked up all the necessary stuff (including a fire extinguisher) and headed out to Waverly beach park in Kirkland, Washington and set up our camera there. We waited till we were all alone in the park to try out our shot and were secretly hoping that no one would call the cops! To our delight, we got it right the first time itself but we still took a couple of more shots (just in case).


When we finalized on our picture, we both agreed that our composition was symbolic of illusion meeting reality—of a man looking at an artificial dawn on the shores of a natural lake.

The picture was taken from a Canon 5DmkII with a 16-35mm F/2.8 lens, at 16mm F/8 for 30 secs at ISO250 in RAW (on a tripod !). The image was cropped and converted in PShop with the only processing being an adjustment on the White balance - originally shot at 7000, adjusted to 6000. - Cookie and Adi


The Portal

I can thank my wife for the image name as you can see it looks like I'm going to be climbing into some sorta portal… crazy! I was also digging the reflection in the water. First night I tried to do this… I was by myself and the pics came out a tad bit blurry and not quite what I wanted. Friends of my wife and mine were over and I told them about the giz challenge and how I could use a helping hand. Our friend is also a fellow photographer so it was easy to have her behind the camera. So once someone else was behind the camera, I was a bit more free to play with 'danger'. Ran several shots and scenario types and this was the one that I liked the best.

Camera/Settings: Canon T2i w/kit lens / RAW / ISO 400 / exposure: 4sec / F3.5. Image was edited in iPhoto to my personal liking… there were so many edits but this was the one I decided to go with. - Daniel Jennings


This challenge was fun. My friend Ryan had the idea of going to this castle location (which is actually a water tower) and we were able to try the trick 5 times before we showed a few signs of hypothermia and decided to go home... in one of those attempts a car went by and ruined the shot...(is he/she calling the police!?)... in another one Ryan decided to do some crazy ninja move, which resulted in his head getting a few sparks (wear a hat people!) and the nearby grass catching fire... so I had to run in front of the camera to put it out... Of the three remaining "usable" shots, this "elliptical" move was my favorite.

All in all, a very eventful Saturday night.

I can't wait for the summer to try this again in decent temps. - Diego Jimenez

Canon T2i, 30 secs, f8, ISO 200.

Equipment: 000 Steel wool, tripod, cheap whisk, metal dog leash, mildly drunk whisk handler.


On a cold and rainy Austin, TX night, we set up shop under the railroad tracks near the local chip and putt golf course. I had a friend bring down a studio flash that we gelled a dark blue and fired first shutter for this supposed "practice shot." The tunnel had a relatively symmetrical area adjacent to this, and we later shot exposures in each without moving the camera, intending to bridge the photos for a mirror image effect. This unfortunately did not turn out as well as intended. There is a link to that photo here: http://imgur.com/0msZY

While admittedly not a very complicated or imaginative spin, I feel that this photo succeeds due to the nearly unedited gradient caused by the blending of the orange from the wool and the blue of the light, mixing into a really beautiful shade of purple. Coupled with some very interesting reflections off the freezing cold water, I am pretty happy with this shot regardless of how long it took to feel my toes again. - Elliott Decker


5D Mkii
24-70 f2.8 @ 35mm/f11
100 ISO
12.00 Seconds

Meet Jane Apocalyptic, Jane is a (obviously) a headless naked mannequin. I was given Jane a few years back late one night, and was face with a unique problem, what to do with it! I fleetingly considered making it into a floor lamp, but instead found myself using her in my photography. For the contest shot, Jane and I ventured a few miles to the giant concrete sewer outlets below Fort Funston in San Francisco. Jane was aglow with excitement (and a sparkler) as I spun the wool behind the pipe. To finish off the shot a little lavender lightpainting with an LED Maglight for off frame left. - Eric Mulligan


Nikon D300, ISO 100, F/11, 198.0s

When I saw the challenge, I knew I had to try. So I put out a call to my metal band friends and we tried several different types of shots and experimented with different ways of spinning and different locations around a sewer drainage pipe manufacturer. The shot I chose to submit was in a open topped concrete cube with a rebared opening. And a figure 8 swinging style which gave a cooler infinity symbol look and sparks coming towards the camera. - Gilles Landreville


Camera: Nikon D7000
Lens: Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC Macro HSM
ISO: 100
F stop: f8
Shutter: 15 seconds
Focal Length: 38mm

I was recently able to upgrade from my point-and-shoot Canon to an actual DSLR. Originally, it was purchased with the intent to shoot real estate and make some money, but when I saw this photo challenge I knew my destiny was to spray magical steel sparks in front a towering bridge.


Actually, I've had a shot like this in mind for years now, but my old camera wouldn't have been able to capture it as well. The 60D, however, was more than capable. So I convinced (nay, bribed with beer) my buddy into coming down to the cold, windy river, under a dark bridge Saturday night. Neither of us had any experience lighting steel wool on fire and spinning it violently, but somehow we managed to not burn ourselves (excessively).

Portland, Ore., is home to many bridges, but none so iconic as the St. John's Bridge. If it was good enough for a scene in the original "Batman," it would definitely be a fitting backdrop for this challenge. This photo was the first of dozens, yet ultimately the best one. - Jake Donahue

Canon 60D with a 10-22mm wide angle lens (f/7.1, ISO-200, 30-second exposure).


For this particular shot, I used two steel wool holders on bungee cords. I went to a Flickr group that I post to and asked if anyone would want to do this project with me over a bridge. The one person that volunteered suggested this abandoned railroad tunnel instead. I am glad he did. The tunnel was terrific, especially with the unfinished walls. - Jeff Phillips

Shooting with Nikon D80. Lens: 50mm
ISO: 200
F 11
Exposure: 4 minutes


Wow this was a fun challenge! I did this challenge with five friends (four of us were shooting and one helper/on-looker). We weren't really sure what to expect and figured we'd draw some attention in the neighborhood (and hopefully not from the police). The tennis courts in my neighborhood are in dire need of repair so I figured no one would mind and it was a big open space. So we all met just after dark at my place and walked over. I had steel wool already, and got the whisk and dog chain from Walmart. We also had a fire extinguisher on hand, but didn't need to use it.

The big things we learned for next time are to buy extra steel wool (we only had about 12 pads), have a good lighter, and the faster you spin the thing the more sparks and fire you get.

For my photo, I used a zoom effect from about 20mm to 200mm.
Taken with a Nikon D300 with the kit 18-200mm lens at f/9.0 for 20 seconds. ISO was set at 200. I cropped it a little, played with the levels, and added a little sharpening in Lightroom, but no other post-processing.


As I said this was a lot of fun, and there were no injuries or damage done, so we will probably be doing this again. - Jeff Gamble

Steel wool is a blast! Who knew you could use it for more than scrubbing?! Recently, my friends and I have been doing a lot of nighttime long exposure photography, including lightwriting, so I knew what I needed to pick up for this one. I bought some 00 grade steel wool and a few other supplies, and after finally getting a rain-free night, set out with my friend to a boat launch near his house to see what we could create (or [accidentally] set on fire). We were both exhausted, so we only made a handful of attempts, taking turns operating the cameras and making sparks, but we were amazed by the results, as was the police officer who came by to see what we were up to. This image is a composite of two shots—one of me and one of my friend. - Jeremy Klukan


Location: Burlington, WA
Camera: Sony Alpha SLT-a55 w/ 18-55mm @ ISO 400, f/6.3, 30s and 20s shutter

These shots were taken at a beach by my house in Carpinteria CA. The beach was closed but it's pitch black and a giant cliff so i doubted anyone would see us even with the giant sparks flying everywhere. Two of the friends that came with me smoke so i assumed they had a lighter, turns out they didn't. Between the two of them they had something like 12 matches. It wasn't super far walk back to the house but we were more than half way so we decided to just go for it and see what we can do with what we had. Of the 12 like think about 4 blew out before they could even light the steel wool lol. We got some good shots but had to head back after not too long. The next night we came prepared with a 9v battery and took more shots. It was so hard to choose just one! Overall a really fun and memorable experience. 1 ruined sweater and 1 burn. - Joey Del Real


Canon T1i
Tokina 11-16 F/2.8

Exposure: 30 seconds
Focal Length: 11mm
F-Stop: 7.1


Gotta thank you for this challenge. I have seen photos of spinning, burning steel wool, and thought it would be cool to try, but never got around to it. Because of the challenge I gave it a try. Learned some things to.

My sons and I set up for this in the cul-de-sac to do the spinning with the camera across the way. Ended up doing four shots. The first one I had my 55-250mm lens, which zoomed in to close, so I changed out to my 18-55mm lens. On one of the shots, I tried to move and then see if I could do a sphere like I have seen others pull off on FLICKR. That was a fail. In the last one I just tried to slowly walk though the shot. Had some extra light from the house, so had to crop the photo. Also, did not like the whitebalance of Tungsten. Just seem too cool to me, so I switched to Day Light, which really looked alot better. - John Hays

Camera Canon EOS REBEL T2i
Exposure 30
Aperture f/8.0
Focal Length 32 mm
ISO Speed 200