REFLECTIONS ON MY NEW TECHNIQUES ON BRASS ~ John Byde
For the waterbrass art I use a new sheet of brass for every picture set.
The patterns can be complex.
To find a story in the complexity is where the artist comes in; a search for depth or a landscape in smears of colour and scratches, it is like looking for a golden nugget.
Some brasses are easy to photograph, they already have their character and patterns and they jump out of the surface.
The art is in giving depth by careful lighting.
The best effects are from indirect lighting.
This is optics, the light comes to the lens at the same angle it hit the reflective surface, like billiard balls bouncing, straight forward to work out once you know this.
Sometimes my studio looks like a crime scene; well it does in my head because I am computing the angles of the light to the lens.
This sets the background lighting coming from long experience, the scaffolding of the art.
Some brasses, ones that have been in water for many months, have thicker deposits, these can be picked up by oblique lighting, maybe a small led torch shining across the surface, any topography jumps out. This is balanced with the background lighting, which may be very delicate; one softly glowing led 3 meters from the brass.
With the basic principles worked out I can go mining for my pictures, often ending up holding lights in both hands having found the perfect shot and still trying to operate the shutter with the small remote, even putting it in my mouth to click it (not recommended).
We were given some pieces of scrap brass. I decided to clean them up; I just liked having them around.
They cleaned up quite well but not good enough for water work, so I started photographing the cleaning residues and experimenting. Just like Waterbrassart it is all in the lighting. I am not sure if it is a new technique but it will be interesting to see how it develops.
I have had several chats with Cannon on working at the limits of the camera and they have been very helpful. The basic settings use manual focus and the same for aperture, fast film speed and no lens filters.