For this exploration I chose "The Blacksmith" series of photographs that I captured during a recent trip to Williamsburg, VA. The subject matter offered a good combination of portraiture as well as a gritty physical environment.
My trip consisted of an entire day spent walking around the historic Colonial Williamsburg grounds from sunup till sunset. Since I chose a weekend when the park was having a re-enactment, I had ample opportunities to get great shots.
I kept hearing folks talking about seeing the Blacksmith and I wanted to make sure I got to visit it before the day was over. The main Blacksmith building was tucked away directly off of the main Duke of Gloucester Street, close to the center of town. To see the action you had to go through a small white picket fence and around back behind one of the houses that was located at the street.
Upon arriving to the building you immediately started to smell the coals of the fireplace and the smoke bellowing up from the chimney. The time was between 3 to 4pm in the afternoon so the sun was still fairly high in the sky, however the local trees provided adequate shade and provided a good bit of contrast on the outside of the building.
As I approached I could see one of the Blacksmiths working directly in-front of one of the windows. He was busy shaping a key and filing down the edges which presented itself as a good photo opp. Standing about 5 to 6 feet away I clicked off several frames, trying to capture the gritty detail along with the sense of motion of his arms as he worked. Since this gentleman was wearing a dirty, off-white, shirt and the contrast of darker light inside the building, I felt the image would lend itself best to black and white.
Moving into the building I had to wait for a bit for other folks to clear out. The room was decently lit by large windows on both sides and the open fire pit. From this vantage point I could see the detail of the shop and one of the Blacksmiths was actively stoking the fire and hammering on a piece of iron. The gentleman I photographed from the window was further away but I could see a great opportunity to capture the light coming in from the window and all the details of his surroundings where he was standing.
The equipment I utilized was my Olympus OM-D E-M5 along with my Fuji x100. My kit also included an assortment of Zuiko and Panasonic Lumix lenses, however the majority of these shots were taken with the very nice Zuiko 75mm f1.8. This lens offers phenomenal quality at an equivalent 150mm focal length. This was particular good because it allowed me to capture detail from a fair distant to the subject. As most of the new Zuiko lens you can't go wrong. This lens is amazingly sharp, edge-to-edge, and as the others, offers the right physical size when traveling.
For the black and white images I processed them using NIK Software's excellent Silver Efex Pro 2. This application provides some of the best black and white conversion capabilities that I have ever seen. As with the other NIK applications it is simple to use and provides an amazing level of control over your photography.
The color images were processed in Lightroom 4 using VSCO's film packs. These are excellent Lightroom presets that give you some great film emulations with just a single click. The latest version 3 pack provides a bunch of different consumer and professional level instant film emulations that can be further tweaked with provided tools and camera profiles.
It was fairly easy to spend the entire day shooting when your kit consists of a smaller more efficient setup. These new mirror-less cameras offer exceptional portability, while still having the power to capture great images. I can't wait to get another opportunity to visit again. If you haven't been it's a great place to take pictures.