Dogwood 52: Assignment #15 "Metal"

Some friends and I are doing the Dogwood 52 Week photography challenge. We submit a photo each week on a given "assignment" along with commentary and discussion. This week's assignment was:

[Artistic] Metal: Cold, hard steel. Shiny Aluminum. Or even rusted and broken down. Find your inspiration in metal this week.

The submissions follow in order submitted along with the photographer's commentary. We'll add other commentary and critique from the group as it comes in.


I love the gritty, intricate machinery of climbing gear. Here is an Omega Pacific linkcam, a piece of climbing gear with expanding lobes used as an anchor to the rock to catch the climber in case they fall.


An incredible amount of metal moves around the city of Tokyo and Japan in general, in the form of trains. It's the most common method of transport here, with something like the top 23 busiest train stations in the world all in Japan. And it's not just the train, but the rails, the stations, the fences, all in metal. Now if only I could blast babymetal through pictures.


Honestly this was a bit of a cop-out shot this week for me. I did not feel terrifically inspired by "metal" so I just took a picture of the brushed metal sheen of my coffee pot. I thought the wood + metal contrast would be nice and I used a flashlight to create emphasis. Hopefully it's a little hard to tell, but I also focus-stacked a few images to get as much in focus as I could. You can kind of see the effect if you look at how the light shines off the "middle layer" of the coffee pot—it's blurrier than physics ought to allow. But I think I got what I was after!


This is a shot from the underside of a mountain bike, a perspective people don't usually see. I like the rusted, scratched elements of the bike frame, along with the imprinted serial number. The pedals provide some nice symmetry as well.


Similar in theme to the showerhead (below), here I'm trying to play more with the light available in the scene in addition to the contrast between the fixed metal and the falling water. I tried to slightly underexpose the metal (could have gone further I suppose) to give it a relative sense of "cool" compared to the "heat" of the sunlight in the scene. (18-55mm zoom at 27mm, F4, ISO 800, Shutter 1/320)

Below left: I wanted to keep to the metal theme while trying to also get something dynamic. Perhaps a cheap shot to freeze water from a shower head, but it it's simple and attempts to contrast the rigidity of what looks like at "floating" square of metal against the falling water. (18-55mm zoom at 18mm, F3.5, ISO 800, Shutter 1/400)
Below right:  Honestly, my fist thought on reading the prompt was to think about taking pictures of my bicycle(s). I saw there were some other submissions that used the drivetrain of the bicycle as an object of focus. My goal with this image was to try and balance symmetry with chaos. I purposely tried to shoot "through" some of the chain and spokes while keeping the rear cog of my fixie in sharp focus in an attempt to contrast the seemingly chaotic spokes to the symmetry of the rear cog, all while using the chain to draw the viewers attention to the rear cog (amid the chaos of the spokes). In retrospect, I should have taken this as a monochromatic image to doubly emphasize the aesthetic nature while retaining the grayish color that already dominates the image. (35mm prime, F4, ISO 100, Shutter 1/25)
Upon further reflection, I realize that it might have been interesting to slow the shutter a bit and spin the rear wheel to create a more dramatic tension between the symmetry and chaos. I'll follow up later today with a mono image that includes some of that motion before moving on to this week's portrait assignment.


I wanted something rusty with a lot of texture. And I wanted some color. Something that's not always easy when you think of "metal" in its pure sense. Nothing super fancy about this image but I was working on my composition and line work. This valve was a bit higher than I could comfortably shoot so I ended up skewing the image a bit vertically to show the right proportions.