Monday, January 28, 2008

Great industrial photography

Okay, I obviously like taking landscape pictures (and even more obviously, landscape photos from Cape Cod). However, my one abiding love in photography is industrial photography ... I love pictures of factories, trains, mines, ships, etc. I wish I could say why, but there's just something really stirring to me about good industrial photography. I have shelves crammed full of books by David Plowden, Margaret Bourke White, Arthur D'Arazien, Jet Lowe, and other photographers who cut their teeth in the business by wandering through steel mills and factories taking photos.

My big frustration of course, is that I'm just not that good taking such pictures myself. Oh, occasionally I can manage to accidentally take a good shot (see my August 15, 2007 post, which features an old photo I took at LTV Steel back in 2000 or thereabouts), but I've just never managed to master that part of photography. Part of it is that it's really challenging ... the light levels are wildly fluctuating inside a mill or factory, and the subject matter needs a really interesting angle or viewpoint to become fascinating ... if it's taken wrongly, it's just a bunch of machines. Also, there's not a lot of color in a factory or steel mill. The walls are gray, the machines are gray. So you don't get the beautiful color as you do in nature.

and of course, it's not easy to get IN to a factory or mill to take photos. You gotta have to work there, or have a connection. I don't have either at the moment!

But at least I have the books I can look at again and again, to see good industrial photographs. And I'm delighted to see a new book out, filled with archival photographs of old steel mills. Steel mills absolutely fascinate me because of the giant machines, the primeval processes, the noise, the smoke, the danger, and the sheer spectacle of creating molten steel out of raw materials.

Sadly, there's few if any books out there about this, but at least now there is! So I highly recommend the book below, which is available on

It might be in bookstores too (likely the bigger chain stores), but I found it on Amazon. Amazing pictures, showing all the major processes inside a steel mill, taken up close.

And perhaps I can pick up some ideas, because one of these days, I'm gonna get back into a factory or mill, and hopefully get some good photos ... I'll keep trying until I can someday take the pictures I see in my mind ... now I just need to see them in my camera viewfinder!