Sparkly Candle

November 23, 2009 By: erik Category: Experiments, Photography, Photos, Timelapse, Videos 472 views

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Sparkler ProjectilesI’ve been wanting to make this particular timelapse video for a long, long time. Oddly enough, it was a Viagra commercial I saw the other day that played a candle burning in reverse (obvious imagery) that made me finally decide to do it. I used some birthday candles that we’ve been using for Nora’s birthday parties, which, by chance, are “sparkler” candles that not only relight themselves when extinguished, but also send off sparks every so often. The camera was set to take a photograph every three seconds, so the majority of the sparks were missed, but several of them where captured. What surprised me about them was the obvious rotation of the burning projectiles, resulting in squiggly lines of fire in the photographs. Behold!

Sparkler Projectile

Sparkler Projectiles

Sparkler Projectiles
It’s unclear to me how the spark on the right changed direction in mid-flight.

Sparkler Projectiles
More corkscrew sparks.

Sparkler Projectiles
I suppose that most sparks have angular momentum like this and spiral around as they burn.

  • Ray Tibbitts


  • Astonishing! That you can find the time to do stuff like this.

    • This took about 10 minutes to film and then another 5 minutes of Photoshop’s time to batch size the jpgs down to HD size.

  • Hilltopbump

    Maybe the spark changed directions because it fragmented into two pieces? It looks like the spark below it could be the other piece. Their vectors seems to add up to about the one the spark was originally traveling.

    • A secondary explosion! Good work, Mr. Holmes!

      Just the other day I was telling Marga about how Dr. Kolena used to say, “I use vector calculus every day…like in the grocery store.”

  • Juni

    Hey Eric! It’s my first visit to your blog. And I am really impressed by your creativity and your love for your two girls. It is one of the best blogs I have ever visited in terms of presentation and content. I was just surfing around the net when i landed in your blog. What a lovely photograph of the candle. I love candles and watch them burning bit it never occurred to me to take snaps. Recently I bought online some candles from There was one lovely twisted pair pink candle which I think will look your little Nora’s room 🙂 Merry Christmas