Freelance Photographer in Sheffield – Steel City Beauty
Working as a freelance photographer in Sheffield I am always thrilled to be commissioned by any company working in the steel industry. Steel is the foundation of modern Sheffield and Rotherham. Its unique geography and proximity to coal fields meant was destined to become the steel powerhouse. The city still has a huge amount of businesses involved with the steel industry. The specialist skills and knowledge remain and Sheffield is still pioneering developments in metallurgic sciences.
I was commissioned by Derbyshire based UK Carbon and Graphite (UKCG) to photograph some of their graphite product in stores. I also had the treat of visiting Outukumpo’s Stainless melting and continuous casting facility to see some of UK-CG products in action.
Feeling the Heat
The graphite rods are used in the smelting process to transfer the electricity into the metal, heating it to its molten state. Despite the facility being a cavernous space, it is quite a dark environment with very few reflective surfaces so lighting adding lighting was an uphill battle . The smelter is the size of a six or seven story house, just huge. I managed to use a few strobes to lift the ambient light a little bit around the smelter. I also backlit the smoke to rather a nice effect for some shots of the smelter opening. Health and safety dictated a lot of what you can and can’t do with this kind of work.
The heat generated but this huge monster is almost too much to conceive unless you have experienced it. I have been in some facilities where massive lumps of metal are heat treated in ovens (see: Sheffield Specialist Steels post) but this was something else. Despite wearing protective gear and gloves my camera must have got pretty hot and the LCD displayed on a couple of the flashes stopped working till they cooled down!
UK-CG’s facility in Rotherham does some processing and also hold some stock of the graphite rods. I did some shots of the stock there although the processing (turning) of the rods was a challenge to capture due to the graphite dust.