Steel Wool Photography (Tutorial)

Steel Wool Photography

A Know how Guide from Gulfu Photography



Shutter Speed: 30 Seconds
Aperture: F7.1
ISO: 200
White Balance: Auto
Focus: Manual Focus
Tripod :Yes Flash :Yes


What is a steel wool?

A steel wool or wire wool or sponge, is a bunch of very fine strands of steel. It is commonly used for construction work and cleaning work. As far as photography is concerned, it is used to create sparks by burning it and creating a light painting effect.

What do I need to take a steel wool photograph?

You will need the following items before taking a steel wool photograph.

  • Steel wool – It is easily available across most countries in hardware stores. But in India, you might have to order it online. When you purchase the steel wool, make sure that it is Grade 0, 00, 000 or 0000. Do not purchase Grade 1 and above steel wool as it won’t serve the purpose.
  • Steel cable or chain – You can use a dog chain as it comes with a handle to hold and a clasp that can hold the whisk in place.
  • Whisk – You can either borrow it from your home or get a new one from a shop.
  • Camera and Tripod – Any DSLR camera and Tripod is fine.
  • Camera remote/ Shutter release cable – To fire the camera when you are standing and swirling the steel wool.
  • Cigarette lighter – To set the steel wool on fire.
  • Protective gear – If you want to protect yourself from burns, wear a hooded sweat shirt (preferably black) and sun glass to protect your eyes from sparks. Also wear gloves (not plastic) to protect your hand, just in case you touch the whisk when its hot.



Shutter Speed: 25 Seconds
Aperture: F5.6
ISO: 400
White Balance: Auto
Focus: Manual Focus
Tripod :Yes


How can I take a steel wool photograph?

  • You need to attach the whisk to the steel cable or chain and ensure that it is fastened properly. If the chain is very long, cut it to the length of your arm. Otherwise just wind it around your palm to achieve the length.
  • Set you camera at a safe distance away from the point where you will be standing and swirling the steel wool. But ensure that you set the camera with the proper settings and focus point, covering the width and height of your proposed photograph (within a few trials you will get to know the proper distance). If you are wondering how to set the focus point in darkness, you can do that simply like this. Ask someone to stand at the point where you will be swirling with an LED light. Or you can keep it at the point, if you are alone. Set the focus point on the LED light and turn off auto-focus.
  • Fire the camera using the camera remote/shutter release cable. Light the steel wool using the cigarette lighter. You may not see any flame. But when you start swirling it, sparks start to fly.
  • Stand in a single position and start swirling the steel wool until the sparks stop.
  • Check the result in your camera and make the necessary adjustments accordingly.
  • Ensure that you are trying out steel wool photography in a fire-proof place (if doing indoors). If you are trying it outdoor, things are much safer. Just in case of fire, make sure you have a fire extinguisher nearby. All in all, you should only try steel wool photography at your own risk. There is risk of burn/fire when doing steel wool photography. The best way to try this is to ask your friend to swirl, while you take the photograph, or vice versa. That way, you will have someone to help you in case of emergency.



You can email your steel wool shots to and get your photograph evaluated. For any further doubts about taking a steel wool photography, you can email me and get your doubts cleared. Enjoy clicking and keep following Gulfu Photography.




Shutter Speed: 25 Seconds
Aperture: F5.6
ISO: 320
White Balance: Auto
Focus: Manual Focus
Tripod :Yes




Shutter Speed: 22 Seconds
Aperture: F7.1
ISO: 200
White Balance: Auto
Focus: Manual Focus
Tripod :Yes



Multiple Exposure Photography (Tutorial)


Multiple Exposure Photography

A Knowhow Guide from Gulfu Photography




What is a multiple exposure?

A multiple exposure is a technique wherein two images are photographed, one on top of another. Back in the days when film was used, this technique was done by taking one photograph, then leaving the film in the same place and taking another photograph on top of it, before moving on to the next frame. If you take or edit a multiple exposure photograph in Black and White, you get better results. Why so? Because you wouldn’t have to think in-depth about color theory and the like.


How can I take a multiple exposure photograph using a camera that has got built-in multiple exposure setting?


1)      You must turn on the multiple exposure setting on your camera. For each camera, the multiple exposure will be located in a different area. For first timers, you can check the instruction manual or just Google and find it.

2)       You must turn Auto-Gain OFF, if that is possible. The reason to do so is because Auto-Gain automatically attempts to neutralize the EV if you are taking high-key nature portraits.

3)      You must put your camera in Aperture Priority mode and the select your F number (used by gulfu).

4)       Metering mode should be on Spot Metering  .

5)      To take the first shot, you must center the Auto-Focus point and take your picture. It is best to keep the background almost 100% white when taking your picture. If you are outdoor, you can get a white background by having the sky in the background behind your head (try having the sun directly behind your head lined up with the lens). If you are indoor, you can try using flash against the wall to create a silhouette and achieve best result.

6)      To take the second shot, increase the Exposure Compensation to about +2 EV (an estimate) and take the picture of the background you want. Make sure that the background is close to 100% white for this shot also. Before taking both the shots, its better if you experiment for yourself and see which setting gives you the best result with a totally white background. Each situation for taking the shot will be different based on where you are. Whatever setting you try, the background must be 100% white and not gray.

7)      Now that you have taken both the shots, it will automatically stack up and show up on your LCD screen. Try taking different multiple exposure shots and look for that perfect shot. Note that in some cameras, the multiple exposure feature might turn off after taking a shot. So you must turn it ON again before trying out.





How can I create a multiple exposure photograph using Adobe Photoshop?


1)      You must first create a new Photoshop document. Drag and drop the 2 images that you have selected into the Photoshop document. The two images will show up in the bottom right in the Layers Palette as two layers.

2)      You must select the top layer and then select “SCREEN” for the blending mode. You can also optionally try and use “MULTIPLY” mode (this mode darkens instead of lightening).

3)      You can use the Dodge tool to whiten up the background if your selected image does not have 100% white background.

4)      You can adjust the Curves of the image by raising the left-most lower point upwards vertically a little. Then raise the right-most lower point upwards vertically a little. You can replicate the same adjustments to individual color channels in the same Curves adjustment window (Red, Blue, Green).

5)      Finally, save the file as 8-Bit JPEG.




You can email your multiple exposure shots to and get your photograph evaluated. For any further doubts about taking a multiple exposure shot, you can email me and get your doubts cleared. Enjoy clicking and keep following Gulfu Photography.