Where rust reigns

January 25, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

On our recent visit to Nashville I had the pleasure of meeting photographer Craig Brabson (see his work at www.craigbrabson.com) and of spending an all-too-short moment enjoying his photography which was on display at the time in the Village Chapel.  What attracted me in particular was the work he has done on the theme of 'rust'.  Some of his work is impressively set in large rusted metal frames, constructed by the artist.  And the work itself has a rare attraction.  He writes in his vision statement of "the simple beauty that is often closer than I think".  He made me think.  And notice. Good photographers do that.

As a child I found rust one of life's many mysteries. The scientific explanation - the reaction of iron and oxygen in the presence of moisture - only added to the mystery.  That the heavy strength of iron could be reduced over time to dust seemed and still seems scarcely believable.  But of course it is true.  Yet in the decay there can be undeniable beauty.  For a time.  And so it becomes a reminder of transience, which itself can create a longing for a realm unspoiled by rust.

On a short walk (both in time and in distance) in Portstewart's tiny harbour I looked for beauty in the ordinary and simple - in the long and ultimately doomed fight against corroding rust.  In the rays of a winter's sun this is what I found.

My first pictures were of the rusting rings to which boats are tied.

At the opposite side of the harbour I found an old chain disappearing into the depths beneath.

On viewing it now I wish I had had a bucket to pour water over the chain - not to speed the rusting process but to bring out the deep colour of the red oxides.  

Then I came across a boat that had been hauled out of the water, presumably for repair - or perhaps it has sailed its last?  The rust near the propeller was striking.  The first shot reminds me of the eye of a storm.

The second reveals its own strange landscape, like the surface of a new planet, which comes out when I crop in closer.

From a technical point of view each photo was shot using a 70-200mm zoom.  It was the first time I had used it properly with the D800e and I must admit to be impressed with the clarity and detail.  The VR function seems to work well. The big challenge was with the depth of field when shooting closer in.  Much to learn here I think!

The final image is my personal favourite.  I suppose it could be called a 'rust abstract'.  It is an exercise in line, texture and colour where context and shape do not matter.  

Rust Abstract

 


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