Forging Project Shoot

quencing

I’m a huge fan of forging and respect the amount of work and time people invest to take a piece of metal and turn it into something they can use. It truly is an art and I wanted to try and capture it. There was VERY LITTLE information on the Internet regarding how photograph something like this so I decided to just use my own knowledge and try it.  Read on for information on how I captured the photos in this article.  The specific setup and gear I used were my own personal preference for this shoot.  You can achieve great results with other setups and gear as well.

A special thanks to Amy and her husband Bill for allowing me to visit them and capture the process.

NOTE:  Welding is often used when forging.  You need to protect your eyes when photographing this.  Either use proper eye protection (welding glasses) or setup your shot and look away when the welding starts and fire off a few shots.

Equipment

To start,  I used the following gear for this shoot and will explain why

  • Canon 80D
    • Simply because I own it
  • Sigma 50-200mm and Canon 18-55mm lenses
    • Wide lens for getting more of the subject in the shot and due to some tight spaces.
    • Longer lens for getting closer shots while keeping back from all the sparks and fire.
  • Vision 4 (300watt) strobe
    • I wanted enough power to be able to keep the Softbox away from the sparks and fire. This was my Key Light. You may be able to get away with just standard off-camera flash but I wanted to make sure I had enough power. I had a 3rd flash on-hand should this be too powerful at its lowest setting.
  • Yongnuo  YN686EX-RT Lithium Speedlite
    • This is my kicker light to separate the subject from the background and help add to the dramatic setting. This was set to slave mode using the Key Light (Vision 4 strobe) as the trigger.
  • Godox 37″ Octagon Softbox /w Bowens mount
    • To soften the light and prevent a harsh “party” flash on the subject. The size worked for me as I needed to fill a decent area.
  • Tripod
    • For certain shots where I’m shooting at extremely low shutter speed (to catch sparks etc..).
  • Sekonic L-308X-U Flashmeter
    • I like to use this for faster adjustments of lighting. When using 2 ore more lights, it is a must.
  • Clear Lens Filters
    • I did “not” use them but am adding them for caution. I was able to stay a safe distance away but I would recommend you do to prevent any sparks from contacting your lens and burning it if you are going to be close.

Setup Example – 1

Welding
F/20, 1/4 sec, ISO-100 @55mm

Setup information for the above shot:

  • Vision 4 Strobe inside the Godox Softbox with a Power level of 1/4.  This is the Key Light and is set Front Left of the subject roughly 6 feet away.
  • Trigger for Vision 4 attached to my camera to remotely fire.
  • Sekonic L-308X-U for measuring the light reading from my Vision 4 and off-camera flash.
  • Tripod to keep the camera stable at the low shutter speed.  The shutter is low to capture the spark trails.
  • Yongnuo Speedlite used as my “kicker” and set about 45 degrees to the back right of the subject and set vertical.  This flash has a zoom and was set to around 200 zoom to focus the light on the subjects back and separate them from the background.  It was in slave mode so when the Vision 4 fired off, it triggered the kicker.  Power level was at 1/2 and was roughly 8-10 feet away.
  • Info:
    • For this shot, I wanted sparks.. and lots of them.  Slow shutter was the key for this shot to capture the spark trail.  My slaved flash off to the back right separated the subject from the background.  It even lit the side of the helmet adding to the effect.  I had numerous shots and ended up choosing this one.
    • Post-Processing via Lightroom consisting of slight adjustment to exposure,contrast and clarity.


Setup Example – 2

quench and fire
f/8, 1/200sec, ISO-100 @ 43mm

Setup information for the above shot:

  • Vision 4 inside the softbox at 1/16 power.  It was set in front of the subject and camera right.  It was also raises rhe softbox higher and tilted downward for this shot.
  • Sekonic L-308X-U for measuring the light reading from my Vision 4 and off-camera flash.
  • Trigger for Vision 4 attached to camera
  • Handheld
  • Info:
    • For this shot, I needed some part of the human element in it as I felt it wouldn’t look right just floating there without the subject holding it.  I added the glove and boot to complete the shot.  I took 5 or 6 shots and ended up liking this one.
    • Post-Processing via Lightroom consisting of slight adjustment to exposure,contrast and clarity.

Setup Example – 3

Forging
f/5.6,1/200sec,ISO-100 @ 55mm

Setup information for the above shot:

  • Vision 4 strobe in a 37″ Godox Softbox.  Located left and back 5-6ft from the subject.  
  • Trigger for Vision 4 attached to camera
  • Sekonic L-308X-U for measuring the light reading from my Vision 4 and off-camera flash.
  • Handheld
  • Info: 
    • For this shot, I focused on the hands and hammer.  Timing was key here.  I wanted to get it right where it hit and this took multiple attempts.  The Anvil in the foreground with metal on it and the cloth added to the mood.
    • Post-Processing via Lightroom consisting of slight adjustment to exposure,contrast and clarity.

Let me know if you have tried this and how your experience was.. or let me know if you tried my methods and how they worked out!

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