Sparklers are a fun addition to any outdoor activity - campfires, camping, and just backyard fun - but after noticing the light trails you can see when playing with sparklers, we've been toying with capturing the magic of these novelty items using long exposure photography. The possibilities are vast with a medium like this and each one will turn out a little different, making the experiment all the richer.
We took many of these after typical summer bonfires in my parents' backyard with our friends and theirs participating and since it was such a hit, we did it again at my parents' New Years party - hence '2014!' in the first photo. There's usually no plan of what to make ahead of time, just a bunch of excited people playing with sparklers and then someone says, "OH! What if...?" and someone grabs a camera! One friend is an art history buff and saw these glowing spheres in haunting images and wanted to recreate them; we did a lot of playing with other shapes and patterns; sometimes it's just fun to paint with the range of your body like my arm arcs. Now, I doubt there will be a gathering at my parents' house where my mom doesn't have a dozen boxes of sparklers ready just in case :-)
Note: All photos are mine except for the 2014 photo, which was taken by my brother (I'm in this photo, painting the '2').
"2014!" by Dan Irwin is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
To make your own sparkler photographs, you'll need:
- A camera capable of long exposure photographs (usually in need of a manual mode or more than automatic controls)
- A sturdy tripod or a nice flat object
- Ideally, a remote shutter but this is optional
- Matches, a flame stick, a candle, or a fire (just be careful that you have access to flame easily and safely, especially if your photo ideas involve running around)
- People (some of the best concepts we had involved groups of people willing to be silly for the sake of art and adventures)
- SPARKLERS of course! Be sure to have enough on hand to try as many experiments as you'd like.