October 11, 2011

Bolton Emerson Americas: Carbide

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I never took shop in High School and I’m not much of a handy man, so I wouldn’t know carbide from carbon. But from what Frank tells me, carbide is the grade of steel that does the cutting. Evidently it’s also the grade that drill bits are made of.

The day I shot these images, Frank showed me the little square carbide steel bits that are screwed onto larger steel parts (of a much lesser grade), which are then secured to giant arms of the milling machines. Each bit is designed to have four lives. When one corner wears down is rotated to a new cutting edge.

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Frank is a long time employee at Bolton Emerson Americas. He loves his job and it really shows. He’s eager to share details about the process and the company’s history. What he’s not is “a computer guy” (to use his words). He doesn’t own one and doesn’t need one to do his job. So with all the hours I’ve spent shooting at BAE going back to last summer, Frank never saw any of the images from the original series. I thought he had been following the blog all along. A couple of weeks ago I brought in a handful of prints of the HDR series. As Frank was looking through them asking how I was able to capture so much detail, I explained the HDR process to him. The tables were turned.
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  1. Yes, I especially like that first one. Lots of nice stuff to see there. Great bokeh and all sorts of interesting tones and shapes. Cool!