Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry

Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry
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Friday, January 1, 2010

Blacksmith in Technicolor

ISAIAH, chapter 54, verse 16: "Behold, I have created the blacksmith who blows the coals in the fire, who brings forth an instrument for his work;"

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: This marks the start of the fourth year of TODAY'S. The first photograph published to TODAY'S was a monochrome image of a farm in Cornwall. There have been relatively few monochromes since. I decided to publish this image Wednesday (way back in 2009) in monochrome to add a patina of age. Is that a cheap way of populating the image with ghostly presences? I immediately missed the rich colors of brick, wood, and rust. On the other hand, it simplifies the composition and, perhaps, encourages the viewer to zoom in and wander around the shop. Until one makes that journey, the color image seems to me to be too now - more about the current state of things than spirits still playing at the benches?

I also wondered, might this shop be better explored on video? Is still photography better suited to composing a single farrier's presence than leaving the viewer to wander and search among the general, smithy mayhem? I'm interested in what viewers think.

In the meantime, zoom in and explore the benches. To help you on your tour, here's a link to an early, illustrated textbook on farm blacksmithing that will tell you what some of the tools here were used for. How many can you locate? Can you spot the unfinished wagon wheel the smithy might have been working on when he stopped for dinner?