Mining

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The Sudbury Woodworking Studio | Mining Industrial Photographer James Hodgins

Yesterday I found myself at  The Wood Working Studio in Sudbury Ontario after meeting owner/operator Tyler Depatie at a trade show a couple of weeks earlier.  After discussing each others trades, trials and tribulations (say that 5 times fast) I knew I had to see what his Studio looked like and and take a closer look at some of the creations he manufactures.  I was blown away with his craftsmanship, organizational skills and all around layout of his Wood Working Studio and not to mention the different types of wood he kept pulling out of every corner of his studio.  Wood from different Countries, wood that I will probably never have seen in my lifetime, wood that feels heavier than some metal, and wood with grain patterns so unique you think it wasn’t real.  Take the time and visit The Woodworking Studio’s Facebook Page and Website not only to see some of his creations but also to emphasize the power of social media marketing and networking, something else we discussed throughout my visit.  

Thanks again Tyler for giving me the tour, some education, inspiration and the chance to quickly photograph you.  

Check out The Woodworking Studio on Social Media (Choose your poison)
Facebook Page
Website
Instagram
Twitter

 

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Getting Your Equipment To Smile | Mining Industrial Photographer James Hodgins

So you have your mining equipment out in your yard and you grab a few quick snaps with your cellphone to showcase your beautiful creation to the world but it doesn’t have the “impact” you were hoping for?  I wonder why.  

One reason is because your surroundings are really not relevant to the equipment or the background is so distracting that your product is lost in the overall image.  When I photograph Manufacturers equipment for their social media and marketing materials I try to get the equipment in the environment it was made for so that potential clients can “SEE” and relate to the product.  If that can’t take place, the next best thing is to not have a background at all, like placing the equipment on a white background (or any color of your choice).  Sounds simple but it is a tedious task as factors in lighting, composition and exposures are influential not to mention the post production on the image to extract the product.   I know for a fact your cellphone can’t do most of those things and why would you want to?  It’s not your job, it’s not your profession.  You have skilled employees that specialize in their trades  (welding, electrical and diagnostics}  to get the job done right so why does that aspect not carry over into the photography,  the most important “visual” component that your potential clients ALWAYS look at? 

You would be surprised at the amount of time it takes to create the below images and how cost effective it is to hire a professional Mining Industrial Photographer to create your marketing images for you.  Leave this job to me, so that you can focus on the more important things in your company.

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Why Does The Underground Photographer Step In Front Of The Camera? | Mining Industrial Photographer James Hodgins

Like everything in the Mining Industry production is always moving forward and is counted down to the minutes, so when you have a tight timeline to create a specific photograph you need to be on point to get the job done fast & efficiently.  When you waste your clients time by testing your camera angles, lighting and exposure while your subjects are standing there watching, you are also wasting away your professionalism and company brand.  When you know your equipment inside and out, when you know your surroundings above ground or under and when you know what the finished image is supposed to look like you should be as streamlined as the job you are photographing.  This is why you will sometimes see me in my own images like the one below where I am taking light meter readings for the scene.  Once I have everything in place, the exposures are defined, the composition is determined and I have tested the “scenario” by introducing myself as the subject, only then will I bring in the main subject  for the final exposures.  This way they are only in front of my camera for seconds and to them the shoot is fast and efficient.

“hoist winch set up for shaft deepening”

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Photography = Brand | Brand = Quality

Most of the time I find myself on sites above and below ground where the color white is very seldom clean, let alone clinic quality clean. Another part of my job is photographing my clients products big and small to be showcased on a neutral background for their website or product catalog.  It’s a tedious task with multiple lighting scenarios, sometimes in cramped spaces or dark underground passes but the end result “especially on a high key white background” speaks volumes when the final image/product is finished.  If you are showcasing your products, there is one of two ways of doing it.  1. you show the product in it’s element doing it’s job or 2. you isolate the product like the image below.  Either way the final image needs to look PROFESSIONAL.  If you are using your cell phone or employee DSLR to take a snap in your showroom or parking lot, you are doing yourself, your company, and your product a disservice.   Consistency is what your clients want to see, not just in your product, but in your companies brand.

 

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An Elevator Into Darkness| The Alimak Raise Climber

Last week I had the opportunity to photograph an Alimak Raise Climber (Click here to see a video) in action and up until then I have never seen  nor heard of one.   When I arrived at the base the Alimak platform was still out of site making it’s descent to the bottom and with only 15 minutes to setup I anxiously awaited it’s arrival still not knowing what to expect.  Think of it as a caged elevator slinking it’s way up into an abyss of darkness but this elevator also has the capabilities to Drill, Load, Blast, Vent and Scale all the while hanging in a vertical position.  

 

 

 

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Sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses | Mining Industrial Photographer James Hodgins

Some of the best drives are when I am heading to and from the job sites as most of them are in remote locations surrounded by boreal forests and the chances to see some wildlife are plenty.  I am accustomed to always rubber necking the area looking for anything that moves or catches my eye.  I try to leave early when going to a job so that I can take the time to capture a few frames if something interesting crosses my path.  I usually have my camera at the ready on the passenger seat in case an opportunity presents itself just as it did yesterday when I was leaving a job.

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“Sometimes you wonder how the heck you managed to stay in the business this long.”

I have been very fortunate to photograph things I truly enjoy in this industry I call Mining Industrial.  Looking back over the years at the variety of images I have stockpiled I tend to think about the show “How It’s Made”.  I have seen how the diamond drill bit channels are created by hand in the factory to the finished brick of gold in my hand.  From the mechanics that keep the equipment in production to how the equipment is fabricated from scratch.   I have seen safety from the beginning of the roll of high visibility fabric to the professional mine rescue teams practising for the real deal. 

Every day I work at my business whether I am in front of the computer or behind the camera I am always striving to reach the next stage in my  photography career.  I have put in years of building up a reputation of safety, quality and efficiency that my clients know me for.  It didn’t happen over night.  I look back on my 20+ years of being a photographer and sometimes I wonder how the heck I managed to stay in the business this long.  You learn a few things as you get older and just like in everyday life I approach my photography clients the same way: Tell them the truth and give them your best.

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“You sweat a lot.” |Mining Industrial Photographer James Hodgins

Some environments I work in are hot.  Really hot.  That type of hot that makes the perfect day on the lake.  Here though in Cuba with an abundant source of humidity, the heat is wet and never ending, ever relentless.   While photographing these two gents I heard the comment “You sweat a lot” quite a few times.  I actually didn’t think I could perspire so much in such a short amount of time.  It brought me to an aspect of my photography that I have not yet experienced, working while wet without even swimming.  By the end of our trip I felt like I acclimated somewhat by getting through a whole day without having to ring out my socks.  In the end I used the light source  that was creating this humid sunny weather as my main light only adding a few kicker lights when they were needed.  I hope my future shoots across the seas are during the Winter months so I can freeze a few weeks before and thaw out throughout the trip.  Who am I kidding, bring on the heat.

Luckily my photoshoot partner in crime Gretchen gave me this water absorbing headband (which I still wear) to save my eyes from getting water logged.

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Safety Involves Everyone On The Job, Including The Photographer | Mining Industrial Photographer James Hodgins

When I am on a job site the first thing on my mind is safety.   I have to be just as safe as everyone else that works there.  Not only do I have safety on my mind while creating the images (ensuring everyone has proper PPE for the location and job) but I also have to be safe as well.  My wife is counting on my coming home, I like my health the way it is, and at the present moment I have s 100% safety record which I plan to uphold as long as my career will allow it.  Also know your surrounds, who is in it, what obstacles there are and what safety precautions need to take place for a successful day on the job.  I deal with a lot of moving vehicles on site, including the forklift.  This thing can zip in and out of everywhere and turn on a dime.  I have met some skilled operators in my time, and unfortunately I have witnessed some that are not so skilled.  Here is a great blog post for “Tips On Operating A Forklift Safely”

 

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Safety Is Not Just About Yourself | Mining Industrial Photographer James Hodgins

Safety is not just about yourself, but involves everyone and everything in your working environment.  Always take a moment to stop, look around and listen to what is immediately around you and inspect your surroundings top to bottom.   For one shoot I had to capture a few images from a tower overlooking the facility at night.  As I got to the top of the tower and was looking around I quickly noticed some movement at my feet.   Trying to be as stealthy as possible and not causing any more stress to the occupants of the balcony I quickly and silently descended back to the ground to locate another vantage point to shoot from.  Happily momma bird arrived back on scene shortly after I reached the bottom.  By then it was time to go for the night, but I did manage to  capture some images throughout the night and above (on the opposite tower).  No matter how big or small be safe for all.

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Why Hire James Hodgins?
Home Safe Video
I had the pleasure of working behind the scenes with this project coordinating the stills and lighting for the video.
Stock Photography Or Not?
stock photos of mines

I recently received an email inquiring the use of some of my images for a companies marketing materials and within the email was a common sentence I usually see "We have done an exhaustive search of the stock photo sights and are coming up short". Read More