Welding Photography – It’s a small weld after all!

 Industrial Welding PhotographyMan in welding mask welding aluminium with sparks flying purple filter © Paul Worpole Photography

Within the remit of industrial photography, I have always been fascinated by the art of welding. It’s just like being mesmerised watching a potter at work, creating something amazing, structural and/or beautiful, but with the added element of a few fireworks!

Alchemy – well almost…
There is something magical about the visual dynamics of welding, fusing two metals together as a fabrication process. From massive steel structures like bridges to the very lightest of aluminium skin, capable of keeping a plane in the sky, all are functional and practical. This very same process can also be found in works of art, sculptures pieces like Angel of the North.

Man with welders mask up clamping metal together prior to welding © Paul Worpole Photography

My favourite method when photographing welding…
I work with a number of engineering clients who want to take their branding to another level and that requires the use of professional photography. Some of it goes straight to the website, annual reports, brochures and others are reserved for online campaigns such as Linked In or Twitter.
Most, if not all of this process takes part on a factory floor and for me, to create the maximum impact of an image, I always use a single studio flash so I can ‘kill’ the ambient light and isolate the subject from the often busy background. To create the fabulous big sparks we use scrap iron and a TIG welder.

Welding Photography Industrial Close up shot of welder welding aluminium © Paul Worpole Photography

Welding photography – how to make it dynamic…
The main difference is having access to studio lights that can be used ‘off’ or ‘away’ and triggered from the camera rather than the flash light that pops up and only illuminates the front of the subject giving rather boring flat results. The camera also needs to be set to full manual mode, thereby overriding the camera’s built in automatic function of trying to get everything lit. A big lens is also useful to keep out of the way of those hot sparks!

“Best weld of the day in a place where no one will ever see!”
It’s hot and messy, but the internal pride you see on the welder’s face, when the visor is lifted for the final inspection is always a testament to their skills!

 Welding Photography Industrial Man laughing with welders cap on holding helmet and gloves sitting on a steel pipe © Paul Worpole PhotographyClose up macro shot of welds next to copper hammer © Paul Worpole Photography

New weld order…
One of my clients, Hutchinson Engineering specialise in top quality fabrications of structures (big enough to drive a lorry through) for both telecoms and renewable energy companies worldwide. With steel tubing so big, some of the specialised welding equipment has to be adaptable to fuse huge tubes of steel together. It’s common for the tube to revolve whilst the welder sits above on a chair with a welding rig attached for consistency and precision.

Welding Photography Industrial Man sitting 10 feet in the air on top of a welding machine welding steel tube © Paul Worpole PhotographyBack lit shot of steel tube and welding equipment left while welder was on lunch © Paul Worpole Photography

Then there’s Twinfix, who design and manufacture and install canopies and roof glazing for massive buildings/structures. Their projects include railway stations, education (school/university) and medical (hospital). Their aluminium welding is second to none.

Man in welding mask welding aluminium with TIG welder © Paul Worpole Photography

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