Tuesday, September 1, 2009
The Heart of the Machine
I'm not sure if I'm ever going to get this thing about machinery out of my system. I love the work of Maurice Bloomfield, the British Industrial photographer. His images of postwar industry are captivating, and I particularly like his black and white pictures of gleaming bearings. He's a master of lighting that kind of thing, raising machinery to the level of fine art sculpture, modern-day idols, even fetish objects. Works for me.
I love the burnished surfaces and reflective edges of the Gasworks Museum machines and for that reason, I've always captured them static. Little details like serial numbers stamped into the metal or flaking layers of enamel speak to me of the age when machines were built by craftsmen, not robots. One day I may move on to portray the power and energy in these things, capture their motion somehow. For now, one little cheat is to use something like photoshop to apply selective motion blur. What I did here was apply a radial motion filter to the image, then painted over the layer mask to remove the blur from the parts of the picture I wanted to remain sharp. So it looks as if the piston here is moving, but I've retained the detail of the numbers stamped on it in the top left corner. I'm not sure if it adds that much to the image or not. It's just another tool that gives you more options. What do you think? Leave a comment below if you prefer one over the other.