As I reported last Thursday, I’ve had the hankering to try the burning ball trick I’ve seen used before. I had a few free moments tonight, so I decided to give it a go.
They always say safety first, so that’s exactly what I did. I did this little experiment out in the driveway, clear of the house and anything explosive. I had a bucket with a wet towel draped so that I could easily drop the ball in and cover it if need be. I also had my fire extinguisher at the ready. Lastly, I had Zepp and Traci safely (and warmly) stowed inside the house.
After this experiment was done, I realize all this was probably overkill, but it never hurts to be cautious.
The rubber cement worked like a charm. I just squeezed out a glob of it on the ball, lit it up, and posed pretty. It would burn for about 5 seconds before starting to make a sizzling sound, at which point I could easily blow it off and wipe away the singed cement. Turns out the cement was the only thing that burned, the ball barely even got warm at all.
My goal became timing the shot so that I could get the lights of a car passing behind me. Unfortunately, it’s kind of a slow night on Blackman Rd., so this was more of a challenge than I expected.
I cranked down my shutter speed to 1/2 sec, which gave me a good blur of a passing car, but I think that was too long for the fire, which ended up blowing some highlights which I’m unable to recover.
This shot would be 10 times easier with a separate subject and an assist. I’d even feel safe trying this indoors, with the main concern being exposure to the permanent marker-like fumes of the burned rubber cement.
If you try this, though, I’d still recommend having some safety precautions in place. You can pick up a cheap fire extinguisher for $15 that could save you hundreds and thousands if stuff got out of control.