Model Bio: This is a photograph of Harry Rock, a long time friend and former work colleague. We share a common history in that we were both mechanical engineering apprentice’s who ended up working for technology companies as various aspects of engineering became increasingly automated.
As apprentices you are taught to make things and there is no doubt there is immense satisfaction to be derived from being able to say “I made that”. In Harry’s case his life long involvement in manufacturing has turned into the creative hobby of wood turning in his retirement. Wood turning is a surprisingly popular hobby with clubs and associations all over the country, its relatively cheap although the endless variety of tools and gadgets available to purchase might make you think otherwise but it does require real skill to turn a piece of spinning wood into an object of desire using hand held tools. Wood for turning is often freely available as it would otherwise be left to rot or be burnt, speciality timber such as Ash and Yew and any fruit woods such as Apple, Pear or Cherry are all excellent for turning.
Harry sells some of his output of beautifully finished objects at local craft fairs and regularly undertakes commissions for individuals, this as much because there is a limit to how much you can keep for yourself although his main motivation is the personal challenge and satisfaction of turning a piece of discarded branch into a lovely and tactile object such as the wooden apple in the photograph.
Location : Harry’s workshop Swindon 21st of November 2014.
Equipment and settings : Canon 5D Mk III, EF 24-70 L , ISO 640 at F3.5 and 1/125th of a second.
Photography and Post Processing : Taken in natural light as the artificial light in the workshop gave unwanted reflections and strange colour cast on the apple. With the work shop door open there was still limited light so ISO was opened up to 640 and Aperture to 3.5 to ensure a sharp exposure could be captured. Depth of field was of secondary consideration as the main points of interest – the hand and apple – are relatively speaking in the same plane. I tried various backgrounds, e.g. piles of wood, the lathe but I considered the tool rack the most pleasing in selecting the final image to be used.
A key element of woodturning is the finish and colour of the finished piece so I decided that it would be interesting to leave the apple in colour whilst de-saturating the rest of the image. Using Photoshop the image was first straightened and cropped, and then the layer was duplicated and de-saturated with magenta boosted to enhance contrast. A layer mask was added and using the magnetic lasso the apple selected and this area of the image painted out to reveal the coloured layer below. Image resized and border added for presentation.
Evaluation. I confess I am exceptionally pleased with this image as I think the composition and selective use of colour make for a very strong image and beautifully meets the brief of “Home Grown”. Being both an image of the result of an artisan at work and the contradiction that it’s not a real apple.
Technically all worked well, although my masking and selection skills could be improved and this is something to concentrate on.