How to Create and Capture Fire Rain with Night Lapse
We know you've seen them: seemingly Photoshopped shots of pyrotechnic craziness on Instagram–perhaps from a creative photographer you follow, or maybe from the Night Crawlers (one of our favorite accounts). Well, the fact is, GoPro HERO4 cameras’ Night Photo and Night Lapse settings have opened up endless possibilities for users to explore their creativity with low-light photography, and with a little ingenuity, you can capture some amaziness yourself–without the help of Photoshop.
We met up with our friends at Untamed Science to experience the magic of making it rain… with FIRE! Rob Nelson and Jonas Stenstrom of Untamed Science have a mission to make science education fun by creating science videos to inspire you to continue learning and exploring. So, naturally, they are a perfect source to help us learn some fire rain photos.
And although this trick is easily done, taking the right precautions and using the proper steps are necessary to nail this creative camera trick. When done correctly, the results can be mind-blowing and leave you with stunning, surreal images.
Check out what the Untamed Science masterminds had to say about capturing low-light, long-exposure shots with your GoPro.
We like to experiment with light and long exposures on our GoPro, which allows us to get really creative and compose photographs that look more like paintings. The final painting-like photo may give the feeling of a peaceful, stoic scene, but participating in the shoot is always pretty intense because there are sparks of glowing steel flying everywhere. We want to help show people how it can be done with the camera using the proper steps and precautions.
The setup is super simple. We have a metal kitchen whisk attached with duck tape or zip tie to a five-foot chain. The steel wool should be as fine grade as possible—we used  for this video.
The trick is to fluff up a piece of steel wool a little to let more air in, and then just put it in the kitchen whisk. Easy. Once you have it set up, use precautions before touching a Duracell battery to ignite the flame.
- Rob & Jonas
- Gloves, goggles and a hat are musts.
- Wear clothes you don't particularly mind getting damaged.
- Cover up well, and use cotton clothes; synthetic materials actually melt.
- Make sure to only try shooting this in an area that is not at risk for fires. Stay away from dry fields or forests because you don’t want to start a wild fire.
- Always keep a fire extinguisher close.
- Set your camera set to Night Lapse Mode to continuously take pictures and capture a sequence of shots.
- Adjust the shutter speed to 2 seconds to let more light into the sensor.
- Tip: Anytime you adjust the shutter speed, a tripod or a steady mount is necessary.
- Shoot with PROTUNE on for more control over the images.
- Set the ISO Limit to 100.
- Set to Native.
- Start your camera before beginning to spin the steel wool and continue until there areno sparks left so you capture every moment and detail.
- Tip: 2-second exposure captures the sparks well, but that can be a pretty long for the person in the frame to hold still. To get around this, you can use a flash or headlight to momentarily illuminate the subject in the picture and sort of freeze a particular moment. This takes some motion blur out.
This really isn't hard to do; just don't set the neighborhood on fire. You have to pick a good spot for it...Out in a dry forest would just be dumb. Be smart, be safe.
For more tips and tricks on how to shoot steel wool photography check out Rob & Jonas’ Filmmaking Tips on YouTube, the Untamed Science’s Website, or Jonas’ and Rob’s Instagram.