About a month ago, I joined the Rust Art Group on Facebook and have been enjoying the beautiful images of intricate patterns, colours, shapes and textures that the other photographers post there every day.
I never would have imagined that such beauty could be created by rust but, seeing what other photographers do with their rusty subjects, I have no doubt that it rises to the level of art.
It’s also an interesting contrast for me to participate in a group which is comprised mainly of European photographers: most of the members seem to be from Germany, Holland, Poland and there are several members from Israel. Their aesthetic is certainly different from that of the American photographers with whom I normally hang out.
They seem to celebrate hardest when a group member posts a rust pattern that resembles a human face or an animal. For my part, I prefer the more abstract images, which emphasize colour and shape. I also like images with geometrical patterns, that resemble Piet Mondrian paintings, like the second image posted here, which is of the side of an old, steel-grey, rusted water tank that had been welded together: the ridges where the welder had done his work made for interesting lines in the composition.
I have never photographed rust as a subject in its own right. But, when I looked back through my images for photos that might be suitable for posting in the Rust Art Group, I was surprised to find that I had taken quite a lot of photos of rust. I suppose this comes from my love of photographing old cars and trucks, as well as abandoned industrial buildings.
Enthused by the work of the other photographers in the Rust Art Group, I headed out last Saturday to a truck graveyard in rural Virginia with the specific intention of capturing images of rust.
Shooting with a Nikon D800 and Nikkor 105mm f2.8 micro lens, I found that “seeing” rust images was not so dissimilar to other types of photography: I was looking for line, shape, colour and, of course, texture, as well as interesting or repeating shapes. With the dominance of warm tones in rusty subjects – reds and browns – I was on the lookout for cooler colours to add contrast, such as the pale blue in the image at right.
In post-processing, I found it best to emphasize texture by using the Tonal Contrast and Detail Extractor filters in Nik Color Efex Pro 4. Frequently, I had to dial back the saturation, as images with a lot of rust can easily look too warm.
I enjoyed my foray into the world of rust macro photography and like some of the resulting images. This is a subject I will be shooting again in the future.
(click on an image to enlarge it)