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3 minute read

Opinion: Playing with fire – the power of a photograph

Industrial photographer, Adrian Waine has been crowned Best Professional Photographer of the Year in the 2017 EEF Manufacturing Photography Competition. Here, Adrian shares a little insight into his passion and explains how to capture that perfect picture. 

Ever since the era of the dinosaur, man has used fire as a source of energy, usually to cook and defend himself. Though, as time moved forward, the source of heat evolved into a highly useful tool for blending metals and making tools. He’s been starting fires ever since.

In present-day manufacturing, applied heat is as important as ever, though nowadays far more controlled than in the days of stone age man.  For a photographer, heat patterns and flaming colours offer an opportunity to create remarkable photographs which captivate the viewer and transform an everyday process into a kaleidoscope image for marketing purposes.

Picture: Adrian Waine

Stepping back from industry and into the classroom for a moment, I recall a commission to create shots for a high school prospectus. During science, one thing which was immediately apparent was the fun these kids were going to have by having permission to set fire to a selection of metal filings which burned with a myriad of differently coloured flames. In the schoolroom, starting a secondary fire, albeit only within the confines of a bunsen burner was not to be missed and one might be tempted at this point to think about what Dennis the Menace might accomplish if he were in charge.  However, this really was supervised and the success lay in captivating those kids’ expressions, a thrilled mixture of alarm and excitement to demonstrate the fun of science even at the age of eleven. It was all about creating a sense of drama. Just think how this might inspire youngsters to follow a career path through minerals or metals on a much grander scale.

Picture: Adrian Waine

Heading back to industry now and there are thousands who use heat for cutting or shaping and produce trails of sparks as a by-product. This was the case at United Springs at Rochdale who grind multiple springs to a finished size as a single batch. By adding some coloured flash to freeze movement coupled with a time exposure, the catapulted splinters of hot metal were caught as yellow streaks. The combination created remarkable images. These are very valuable to a manufacturer since they illustrate a local process combined with doorstep talent rather than a commodity shipped in from overseas. A tremendous way to highlight “Made in Britain”. So if you’re a manufacturer aiming to promote British goods, this is one way of achieving it.

Picture: Adrian Waine

Probably the most common of activities to feature ribbons of sparks is the welding process which actually comes in many forms. With streaks of glowing metal scattering far and wide, one might expect that every shot to be spectacular. Not so!! I have always found that the source of the weld needs some added lighting to give it some shape and colour. By aiming to capture the guy’s concentration and perhaps some of the fumes as a smokey haze, atmosphere is instantly added to the shot. Suddenly, you feel like you are there with him amongst the taste and the smells and the clatter of a workshop. What can be better than bringing a photograph to life and exciting others by it?

The winning photograph from the 2017 EEF Manufacturing Photography Competition

Adrian’s winning photograph / Picture: Adrian Waine