This is how I shoot mind-blowing steel wool photography

photographer making a steel wool picture in the dark
(Image credit: Gimagery)

Steel wool photography is a creative technique that makes you think: "how did they do THAT?". We'll explain – with the help of expert photographer Gimagery – how to shoot your own steel wool photos. 

Steel wool photography involves using long exposures to capture the motion of hot embers flying through the air. It is achieved by setting fire to a material called steel wool that is sitting inside a metal whisk which is attached to a chain and then spinning it. Once alighted and spun around in the air, the glowing hot embers of steel wool fly out and create orange/gold streaks of light which are captured by the camera. The effect that is produced is somewhat similar to the effect created by a Catherine Wheel firework.

photographer making a steel wool picture in the dark
Gim Liu (Gimagery)

Gimagery is a UK-based professional photographer who specializes in long exposures specialist. On Instagram, and in his new book A Beginner's Guide to After Dark Photography with Gimagery, he's best known for his artistic creativity by using techniques to produce unique images that intrigue and captivate. Gimagery is known for his trademark use of light sources to create the illusion/impression of movement and bring static objects to life.

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Lauren Scott
Freelance contributor/former Managing Editor

Lauren is a writer, reviewer, and photographer with ten years of experience in the camera industry. She's the former Managing Editor of Digital Camera World, and previously served as Editor of Digital Photographer magazine, Technique editor for PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine, and Deputy Editor of our sister publication, Digital Camera Magazine. An experienced journalist and freelance photographer, Lauren also has bylines at Tech Radar,, Canon Europe, PCGamesN, T3, Stuff, and British Airways' in-flight magazine (among others). When she's not testing gear for DCW, she's probably in the kitchen testing yet another new curry recipe or walking in the Cotswolds with her Flat-coated Retriever.