•COMING IN SEPTEMBER, 2015•

Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry

by Emery Roth

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Explorations of Form No.10, Shadow & Substance


PHOTOGRAPHER'S DIARY:

Thursday, Jan. 22 - Back at Collinville factories to shoot a row of wheels and gears that control the flow of canal water. On my previous visit (1/14), a week earlier, in the mid-afternoon, I had noticed that the low, winter sun articulated the forms and surfaces of this equipment clearly.  I noted also that the good light ended when the sun moved behind a mill building at about 3 PM. This time I was on the spot by 1:15, and the skies were clear. 

The equipment might have been 50 or even 150 years old. It had been painted, stripped, and repainted many times.  In between paintings it had sometimes rusted, and it was now mostly ignored. As a result, the ancient steel castings were taking on the look of organic things. 

Up close, I thought, they seemed a mystery of the stone age. I had brought a set of close-up lenses (sometimes called "diopters") as I wanted to get in closer than my macro lens permitted. At some point I need to compare the results through these lenses with results through extension tubes. Close-up lenses are far easier to manipulate.

A number of experiments suggested a single +4 diopter lens would get me in to where I thought I should be to make the most of the textures. I took a number of shots around the pin that attaches a crank handle to a heavy rod. I moved on to gears nearby but quickly concluded I wasn't feeling it and moved on.

The sluice gates were hidden out of site, but there must be 6 of them, each operated by a nearly identical set of wheels and gears. The sets were lined up, and, in addition to close-ups, I was interested in creating compositions that played on the repetitions. The framing possibilities seemed infinite, and I explored a number of angles, heights, and distances through my 103mm macro lens.  In some of the deeper shots I explored leading the eye to indistinctness by limiting depth of field. The more I shot, the more I became aware of the shadows and opportunities to lead the eye to silhouettes.  The use of these shadows in compositions is worthy of further exploration.