The first lesson when photographing welding: CLOSE YOUR EYES!. Even through layers of glass and two mirrors, retinal damage is possible. You can set up a tripod. I’m a gritty photojournalist, so my tripod is my legs spread, arms tucked in close, deep breath, squeeze the trigger slowly. For welding, I set up the shot, focus, close my eyes and just let the camera shoot at 8 frames a second when I hear the arc welder spark.
Second lesson when photographing welding: Slow the shutter speed. No eye damage here so no capital letters or exclamation points. After shooting James welding at 1/10th of a second at f/9 I thought it might be good to blog about the difference. In the first example below James created some sparks after our shoot so I could shoot at 1/500th of a second. The spark travels less than an inch. At 1/10th of a second the spark travels nearly a foot. The same principle applies to shooting star trails or friends drawing with flaming sticks around a campfire.
I’ve always felt I learn more about photography viewing complete shoots from other photographers. We only see the good or great single image from the work. So you’ll see plenty of failures. In this case I don’t think the first two portraits of James are failures, they just don’t jump out at you until I finally reduced the image to just heads.
CLICK HERE for a link to a small photo gallery with some of James Selby’s whimsical metal creations.