Up the Creek: Your Weapon of Choice


I possess no ability to work with wood. In shop class I was the idiot who cut his hand while making the worst tool box that you could imagine. Go ahead: imagine it. Mine was worse. Regardless, few things feel better in the hand than well-made, wooden tools. When I cook in the kitchen I want wooden spoons in my hands, and when I play guitar, it is the wood that resonates the sound coming from your fingers pressing down on the steel into the fretboard. As mentioned in a previous post, I had the pleasure of figuring out how to shoot 5 ft paddles made out of prime sample of walnut, maple, birds-eye maple and cherry.

The challenge of photographing wood, especially pieces with a translucent finish, is to ensure you capture the grain of the wood without catching the flare of the lights in the topcoat. The grain demonstrated in these first sample pieces from Base Camp X is exceptional. The tree is present in the wood. The heart of the tree is present in the paddle.

The two distinct shapes make you want to spend a day on a Fall lake switching between the two to find out which works best for your needs, even though you know that both meet whatever needs you might have. Our desires are another story.  Spending the day with the wood in the studio left me to imagine the lake I would want to be on in Algonquin Park at the end of this month, and which paddles would I want carry in with me. We all do this. Our dreams and imagination are what constantly propel us forward until we get out of the city and onto that lake. Out of the eight water blades, I fell in love with the Bird’s Eye Short Paddle and the Walnut Long Paddle [I do not know the actual BCX names for the paddles yet]. Both cried for contrasting woods, and both were a far cry from anything I could build in a workshop for myself from a single piece of wood.

I am proud of these particular photographs, because of the technical challenge involved. One look online to see what other photographers have been able to produce left me feeling like a superstar. My studio probably needs a third light to be able to cover 5 ft properly, but another $1200 light to cover work that I seldom do will be out of the picture for another six months at least. Until then, I am happy with the coverage, the consistency and colour accuracy I was able to accomplish in a small space without an assistant.  Graeme will eventually post the actual photographs [these are merely contact sheets to show him the progress] soon enough, I imagine. Until then I have a large job from Paderno coming in that will take up about a week of my nights, and I hope to produce a few hero shots of the new knife and axe for the portfolio.


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