Update on the blog

Okay, so before we start talking about steel wool spinning, I have a couple of things to say.
First of, as you have probably noticed by now, the blog is in English. I have decided to make this change because I want to teach as many people as possible with this blog. If you are bothered by this, please let me know and maybe I’ll reconsider. If you have any trouble understanding any (part) of my blogs, just let me know and I’ll try to explain it. I am planning to slowly change the whole website to English.

Secondly, I am no longer posting this type of blog on Tuesdays. I have made a new schedule for blogs. Depending how it works out in the first couple of months or weeks, I will upload in the following schedule:

  • First Friday of the month: Story behind the photo. This photo can be voted on in my Instagram stories in the week leading up to the first Friday of the month. If you see any photo on my Instagram or elsewhere, of which you’d like to hear the story behind it, just let me know and I’ll add it to the voting possibilities.
  • Second and fourth Friday of the month: Photography tips, tricks or ideas. For at least half of these blogs I will try to accompany it with a vlog/video explanation. If it feels right, I’ll try to do it for all of them.
  • Third Friday of the month: I will try to make this a travel photography related blog every time, but if travel isn’t really possible, I’ll come up with something else.
  • Bonus/fifth Friday of the month: I will share my photos for the 52 week challenge which I’ll explain another time 🙂

Steel wool spinning

Okay, now that we have gotten that out of the way, I will get to the photo of this month’s story behind the photo. After a total of 19 votes, we will talk about the steel wool spinning photo which you can see below.

The necessities for steel wool spinning

For this shot I used the following attributes:

  • A steel wool spinner (no need to be a pro, but I had one :))
  • Camera of which the settings can be manually controlled
  • Tripod

The event

The first thing I’d like to share about this photo is that I wasn’t alone when this photo was taken. You can already see someone who is in the shot, but we were with a whole group of photography enthousiasts. That is because I was with the student photography and film association Dekate Mousa, or DM for short. DM is an association that is very close to my heart and I also was boardmember there last year.

One activity (which returns a lot) we did was steel wool spinning. Even though I normally did not take photos during the activities when I was board, I chose this location and setting to actually take some photos. The location really spoke to my preferences in photography. I like symmetry and reflections :). Normally I also add some negative space in there, but for this shot it was not really possible.


Okay, as I just mentioned, I like symmetry and reflections. In order to get the best composition focusing on those aspects, I did the following things. I wanted to get straight in front of the building, so symmetry would be easily accomplished. For this shot (precorona) we were with a group of people and I could not push everyone aside. So I tried to get as close as straight in front of the building as possible in the situation, but could not get there. For the reflection, I lowered my tripod as far as possible and then aimed at having the waters edge in the middle of my frame. This also added to the symmetry in the photo.


As mentioned in the necessities, a camera with which you can manually control the settings is needed to take a photo like this. The reason for this is that the steel wool will make it hard for the camera to calculate the exposure for you. For this photo I thus set my camera in manual exposure mode.

The first setting I settled on was the aperture, which I set to F/10. This is closed down to reduce the amount of like coming in. Besides it also almost ensures that most of the photo is in focus. Because it enlarges the part of the photo that is in focus.
Then I set the shutterspeed which is crucial to how a photo like this will turn out. I set it to 8 seconds which in this case led to a photo that was filled with sparks flying everywhere. If it had been much longer, the middle part and the building in the background would have been overexposed, and shorter would have let to less sparks.
The last setting is the ISO which by trial and error turned out to be fine at 250.


The last part in the process of creating an image that I am happy with to call my own, is the edit. For this photo I focussed on the colors. I wanted to create a color contrast between the orange of the steel wool and the dark blue of the night. I also made the sparks more orange than the yellowish orange that they were.

Then I went to photoshop to clean the image up. This is something I only recently started doing, but I totally love it. I wanted the reflection to be a clean reflection, so I used the spot healing tool in photoshop (full tutorial probably coming soon), to take out the things in the pond that ‘ruined’ the reflection.


I only recently found a way to edit this photo, that I took almost a year ago, in a way that I am happy with. I am very glad that I take the time to look back at old photos and try and reedit them so they can do more than just sit on my hard drive. That is the first notion that I want to take from this photo.

The second has to do with the composition of the photo. If the situation would have been ideal and totally focussed on creating the best photo, I would have made sure I was straight opposite the building and the spinner was in the exact middle of the building and frame as well.
The last thing, is that I remember having a great time this evening taking photos with likeminded people. We were all enthusiastic about taking photos and had a great time in the cold.

Leave a Reply