Updated at 10:30 a.m. May 9, 2015
Randy Miller, in another age, would have been burned at the stake. But not on this cool April night.
Instead, his Saturday magic was celebrated with incantations of “Awesome sauce!” and “Incredible shot!” under Scripps Pier in La Jolla.
Members of the San Diego Photo Club were the latest to capture haunting nighttime images, via 10- to 30-second exposures, of blazing steel wool inside a common kitchen whisk swung in circles.
Miller did the swinging.
Walking sideways, backward or forward — or rotating in other directions — Miller helped nearly two dozen photographers with tripods make memorable images.
Kim Tiffany brought a light stick (sometimes called a pixelstick) for added amusement — a 6-foot digitally activated source of glowing pictures such as flames, musical notes or “Star Wars” stormtroopers. A memory card provides the programming.
Dressed snugly on a rainy day, photographers lucked out with no precipitation. They also avoided flying-spark damage to their gear. Others haven’t been so lucky.
“In the pantheon of dangerous photography projects, none intrigues quite so much as steel wool photography,” wrote one blogger. “You’ve most likely seen an image somewhere of white hot circle of light jettisoning thousands of orange-yellow streaks of light.”
But tripods this Saturday night were set up within a safe distance, and sparks rarely reached skin. Other sessions are planned via MeetUp.com and similar event sites.
Miller, an El Cajon resident, says he started his Night Photography Lovers meetup group about three years ago. It now has 717 disciples (with 23 organizers).
“Some are really popular and some are not,” he said. “Most of the popular events, I have to hide the locations because I don’t want people just showing up.”
His meetup group boasts as many as three events a week, and this “this year I’ve been trying to get into more photography workshops and trying out new locations.”
He says he took some classes 10 years ago, the last focused on night photography.
“I used to go out on my own, and scout locations that I would love to come back and shoot at in the middle of the night,” he says.
Night Photography Lovers upcoming schedule:
- Black ‘N’ White series UCSD Geisel Library for twilight
7 p.m. Saturday, May 9
- La Jolla tide pools/potholes
7 p.m. Monday, May 11
274 Coast Blvd., La Jolla
- Sunset at Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach (1 hour)
7 p.m. Wednesday, May 13
4500 Ocean Blvd., San Diego
- Imperial Beach Pier
7 p.m. Wednesday, May 20
Imperial Beach – Pier Plaza
Seacoast Drive & Evergreen Avenue, Imperial Beach
- Fiesta Island, past the dog run
7:45 p.m. Saturday, May 23
(This will be a steel wool shoot for an hour until SeaWorld fireworks start for about 10 minutes.)
- Newbie members meetup and sunset photoshoot
7:45 p.m. Sunday, June 7
Neptune, La Jolla,
(This is also a steel wool event.)