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Picture of the week

By Sean Ferry, Photo Editor

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Advanced welding student Tim Layton demonstrates SMAW (shielded metal arc welding) or stick welding at the Owens Community College Welding Center.

Photo by: Diane Larson
Advanced welding student Tim Layton demonstrates SMAW (shielded metal arc welding) or stick welding at the Owens Community College Welding Center.

 

This week’s picture was captured by the Outlook’s copy editor Diane Larson. Diane was covering welding classes and faced the challenge of photographing a scene with an extremely wide dynamic range. With any image containing an extremely bright area against a dim background, the photographer has to make a decision to expose for the brightness and lose any shadow detail, or do what Diane did and balance the exposure to get enough information from highlight and shadow areas to produce an impressive image.

The exposure was determined by balancing three factors: the camera’s sensitivity to light (ISO), the amount of light allowed through the lens (aperture) and the duration of time that that amount of light can expose the sensor (shutter speed). Diane’s greatest obstacle was getting the background exposed without overexposing the action of the welding. The ISO was set to 6400, about as high as you ever want to go with today’s sensors, to bring the dark background into an achievable range and still allow for a smaller aperture of f/11 to retain detail in the highlights. The shutter speed for this photo was a brisk 1/250th of a second which compliments the small aperture while allowing enough time for the high-speed sparks to slightly blur, lending some motion to the action. White balance would be a nightmare in this situation and I think the auto function did just fine. We see that the brightest source of light is what the camera balanced for white leaving the ambient light to cast an amber glow on anything not illuminated by the welding.

The composition of this photo combines multiple elements of line, balance, value and complimentary color relationships. The block walls behind the welder provide a simple background with an abundance of lines formed by joints to direct the eye to the center of the photo. Strong leading lines formed from the welder’s gaze, gloved hands and the bright line on the object being welded all lead the eye to the smoke and spark filled center of the photo. Two main subjects of the photograph are easily balanced by their placement on opposite corners of the composition. The light value between dark and light works well with the complementary color relationships between blue/orange and red/green to create a dramatic atmosphere befitting the subject matter.

 

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