Tuesday, July 16, 2019


When I inherited my grandmother’s antique mantle clock a couple of years ago I opened the back and immediately knew I wanted to photograph its’ clock works. The clock is a Seth Thomas “Sucile” red adamantine, No. 765, mantle clock made between 1904 and 1913. It has a marvelous brass movement with a wonderfully funky gong mechanism that looks hand made! I put it aside not knowing how I wanted to photograph the interior of the clock. After some research, finding that it really didn’t have much value, I dismantled the left hand side and found a nice opening through which I could light its interior. So, this became a perfect “Light-Painting” subject!

All my other light painting subjects have needed LED flash lights with at least a 7-LED head and on some subjects I used a 24-LED array (a wand) in close and that was usually at 3200 ISO for 30 seconds @ f2.8. For this clock’s interior I didn’t have room for my larger flash lights—the back’s opening is only about 6 inches square—since the tripod mounted camera occupied most of that opening. So, I started my exposure test using my smallest LED flashlight with only a single LED.  It turned out to be more than adequate….
f20.0 @ 30 sec., ISO 800; Lens: 15mm Fisheye
In fact I had to keep lowering my ISO and stopping down because the metal clock work is so reflective. But that was a good thing because with my camera in so close I needed as much Depth-of-Field as I could get. And, since I was focusing at the minimum distance my lens would allow (on the gong's coil on the right) I needed the f20.0 for good depth-of-field.

In this image you can see my main lighting movements through the opening on the left. Here’s my light painting sequence….
Sequence 1
I gave the clock works about 15 seconds through that opening on the left.  Then moving to the right side….

Sequence 2
I’m now real close to the camera putting light on the gong mechanism for about 7 seconds.  Next I aimed under the camera….
Sequence 3
For the remaining 8 seconds I put some light on the old feather that I found inside the clock. 

Here is the final image with retouching….
Final Image
After a lot of interior touch-up and cropping the image to a square I closed-up the left side opening by burning-in and vignetting the image. I don’t know which image I like best—either the first version in this blog or this last one.  

Anybody out there have an opinion?  Let me know…’til next week with something new.

Author: Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman

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