Having fun with long exposure, flash, steel wool and getting started with the Myrtle Beach season

With the beautiful spring weather in Myrtle Beach, it’s the time of the year my photography business starts really picking up. Of course that also means lots of pollen and traffic at the beach, but you have to take the good with the bad. I thought I would do a quick blog post highlighting my first spring engagement session and some long exposure light painting fun I had this winter.

My photography friend Hannah Ruth and I wanted to experiment with some long exposure light painting shots using wedding sparklers. Painting with the light from sparklers can be as simple as putting your camera on a tripod, setting a long exposure, and letting someone run around them or write in the air with a sparkler. For example, you can have a couple kiss and stand very still, while a bridesmaid runs around them. It’s an easy effect and makes the couple look like they are surrounded by rings of light. Keep in mind the couple has to stay very still or they will be blurry, and the bridesmaid has to keep moving so you don’t see her in the picture.  However, I wanted to try out some more advanced techniques, using flashes to freeze the subject, then leaving the camera shutter open to capture the light from the sparkler. Hannah asked a couple to volunteer to help us out. We tried a lot of different shots with the sparklers, I was even able to use the flash to successfully freeze the couple while they kissed, then she was able to write their name using the sparkler in front of where they just were, all in one long exposure shot.

None of our sparkler pictures seemed very good to me compared to the one using the steel wool. Hannah had read online how to put steel wool into a whisk, light it on fire, and spin it from a chain making sparks fly everywhere.  I was worried we might get in trouble doing something like this on the beach, but the guy in the picture is a Myrtle Beach fire fighter and he said it was ok, it’s not the kind of thing I would normally want to do. I setup the camera on a tripod with a flash to my left and right to light up and freeze the couple.  I also positioned us in the edge of the water so it would hopefully make a cool reflection, which is what I think ended up making the shot.  I left the shutter open for about 20 seconds and had the flashes fire at the beginning of the exposure. Hannah stood behind them a spun the whisk on the end of a chain. It took us a couple of tries to get the picture below.  This was all done in one shot, the only Photoshop work was cleaning up some blur from Hannah standing behind them and brightening up the couple a bit.

The next couple of pictures below are also from this winter, I tried to do some engagement pictures knowing couple couldn’t reschedule. It ended up pouring rain on us not long after we started. The couple stayed in a very good mood through it all and I actually love the picture below of them kissing in the rain. Sometimes you just have to make the best of the circumstances. The rest of the pictures are from a recent engagement session at the Atalaya Castle in Huntington State Park. We were supposed to do pictures inside the castle, but some things happened that got us started too late, with the castle closing at 5pm.  However, there are still a lot of nice spots outside of the castle walls.  Starting the pictures later also allowed us to take advantage of a beautiful sunset that evening, so everything worked out well.  I hope you enjoy the pictures, comment below or like this post if you do!

Leave a Comment

More ways to share: