Wednesday, March 16, 2011


PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL - Last summer at the exhibition of my work in Sharon, Connecticut, I met William Trowbridge. Will is an artist and blacksmith in Sharon, and he invited me to photograph in his shop where I found him at work on vines and leaves for a decorative railing he was completing for a client. I did two shoots in his shop. The light from outside was especially beautiful on the first shoot, but there were technical hurdles which made me eager to go back.

To begin, I had to learn a bit of Will's routine, the procedures he was executing and how he moved in order to begin to find angles. Obviously, shutter speed was critical. How much could Will's arm and hammer be blurred to show motion before it became unacceptably distorted? How would that motion appear from different angles? I shot under natural light; how quick an exposure was possible? When his work generated sparks, what shutter speed best caught their trails? The workshop was part of what I wanted to photograph; how could Will be shot to reveal it?

Finally, the more I shot, the more I became aware of the tremendous concentration and emotion Will puts into his work. The archetypal blacksmith of my imagination is at least 80% modeled after Siegfried swinging away at the previously un-weldable fragments of his father's sword and singing to the heavens. There is definitely magic in smithing. Will's magic came from many gentler, more precisely regulated strokes and complete understanding of the material. Will's one truly "smashing" blow came at a moment of extreme frustration when the material resisted his will.

The more fully I could become an unseen spectator, I figured, the better my shots might be. After two shoots, I'm still not satisfied that I've gotten all I could.

REMINDER: Sunday, March 20th - Kent Historical Society presentation: 2 PM, Kent Town Hall, Kent, CT
UPCOMING: April 29- May 15, 2011 - Exhibition at White SIlo Winery, Sherman, CT


Ginnie said...

My immediate reaction when I saw this the other day, Ted, was WOW! From my perspective, you nailed it!

Trotter said...

You may not be satisfied, but the shots are gorgeous!!

Ted Roth said...

Ginnie and Trotter, thanks for trotting by. I intended no modesty in regard to these shots; I am quite pleased with them. Rather, I know there is much more yet to be captured here and, as is always the case, that fewer of the ones you never see were duds.

The things I wish I had done differently in these images are moot. When Will and I shoot next we will both be different people and the sun and moon will have moved on.

Still, it's great to receive your protests in favor of the pictures. Thanks.