In this series, we present a look-book of authentic photographs collected by the writers and editors here at ThemeKeeper Tuts+. We hope these pictures inspire you new ideas, help kindle new projects, and give you a better understanding of visual communication.
Hot Shots: When a Laser Cuts Metal, Sparks Fly
A Closer Look at This Image
Wow, this image packs a punch right from the get-go. Bright, powerful and loud, let’s look at why it works.
Dramatic Light and Colour
The laser is giving off plenty of light, so there was no need to light it externally. Still, there’s lots going on here. The lines and circles of light from the sparks contrast nicely, and the white hot light in the middle, cooling to blue with a warmer deep orange at the edge, is lovely. Exposing for this light source—and keeping the shadow areas of the image underexposed—makes the whole thing pop with colour.
The cutter being red helps too, continuing and complementing the warm colours of the sparks.
Carefully Chosen Perspective
Usually, I’d associate coloured bokeh (blurred lights) with something peaceful like Christmas lights or a city from a distance. This perception is completely at odds with the photograph’s subject. Although this looks very peaceful, in actuality the noise would be immense. The blurring of the sparks nearest to the camera helps to convey this sense of speed, motion, and explosive force.
It sounds dramatic, but the act of a laser slicing through metal is violent. From that controlled violence though, comes something new. For me, this image conjures up the idea of a galaxy and the Big Bang; particularly with all the bokeh.
Sometimes central compositions can fall flat and lack interest. Here though, the cutter being in the middle worked perfectly, as the sparks fly around it, creating an effect not unlike a splash in water: ripples of light radiating towards the edge of the frame.
Reading a Photograph
We’d love to hear your take on this photograph, and if you’re not sure where to begin, then How to Read a Photograph will get you started with how to analyse photography. Mostly, it’s just saying what you see and how you feel about an image!
A combine harvester in a wheat field doesn’t sound very exciting, right? Let’s take a look at why what could potentially be boring subject matter actually…
Get a glimpse at one of the early color photographs with this perfectly colorful subject.