Cutting Steel

One thing I want to do here is share a more in-depth look at specific pictures, because there is often a good story behind a good picture. My picture work varies a lot in terms of planning and preparation, meaning that some things are painstakingly planned, and others are a lot more spur of the moment – in this business, its really the only way to be. Planning is great, but so is being ready when a moment strikes.

I was out on an evening walk around the esplanade this past spring when I made this frame of an ironworker cutting through steel beams on Boston’s Longfellow Bridge construction project, and it was quite a strong moment for making a construction photograph.

An ironworker cutting steel beams on Boston's Longfellow Bridge. (Michael J. Clarke)
An ironworker cutting steel beams on Boston’s Longfellow Bridge. (Michael J. Clarke)

This was definitely an instance of being in the right place, with the right gear, at the right time. Building construction happens to be something that Boston is seeing a lot of lately, but it’s when sparks fly during the deconstruction of buildings that brings out this type of situation, and it was a really good one. I was able to anticipate what was about to happen as the workers prepped this beam for the chopping block, and was able to work with the long throw of my trusty 100-400 with a long exposure to visualize the motion and flow of the sparks being thrown from the torch. It’s fairly rare to get things to line up this well, and to have the cutting work be done in a relatively slow motion to allow for a tack sharp frame. In the case of this frame it all came together just right, and made for a moment that I was glad to witness and be ready for.