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Friday Slide Show: Old Tools Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

9 February 2018

We'd been thinking about this series of macro shots of old tools for a while before we jumped into action. That's always the best approach anyway. But we didn't jump into action because we'd finally figured out what we wanted to do.

Old Tools. Captured at 1/60 second, f5.6 and ISO 200.

Nope. Instead, we were cleaning up the weed whacker after another session on the back forty when we dropped the battery (which we remove so it won't turn on accidentally while we're cleaning it). No harm done but the concrete kisses hard enough to develop, well, character.

That's life, we told ourselves. You use something and it shows. Your car gets dings, your gutters rust, your shirt collar frays, your hip joint wears away. Considering the constant collisions occurring simultaneously in the universe, it's a wonder we aren't down for the count two or three times every day.

But then we remembered the old tools we have lying around that don't use batteries.

Some of these tools were once in our great grandfather's toolbox. They were deemed inferior one or two generations later, left as toys for us children, who came to love them without really grasping what to do with them.

Some of these tools were once in our great grandfather's toolbox.

After all that, they have some character.

We knew we wanted to take macro shots of them because we wanted to focus on that character. And we decided to use a Lensbaby Composer Pro with the Double Glass Optic at f5.6 with both a +10 and +4 macro converter to get real close and limit focus to a few of the details.

That turned out to be a little awkward. Maybe a bit too intimate. You never see the whole tool (which doesn't matter for a ruler but does for a saw handle). But that isn't what the series is about.

It's about character. Showing your wounds. Even having wounds.

There are five tools in this set:

  • A Stanley two-foot ruler that folds in four 6-inch sections
  • A Jordan micrometer from Germany
  • A Lufkin one-foot ruler that folds in three 4-inch sections
  • A saw blade file
  • A small tree saw

We had the help of a clever LED macro light to illuminate the scene but more about that later when we review it.

Macro focusing is best done by moving the camera not adjusting the lens. So we handheld everything. It took a contortionist to angle the lens in at the right angle anyway. But after working in the yard for a few hours, we are that contortionist.

Macro means shallow depth of field but many of these didn't require more than that. Still there are out-of-focus areas throughout the set. Don't let them disturb you. This is not about sharpness. It's about scratches. And time passing.


Everything went through the Lightroom Classic CC mill. We worked on the first Raw image and then synced everything else since it was all shot under the same light source. Then we just wandered through the set tweaking composition and exposure. The last thing we did was add a post-crop vignette we feathered a bit more than the default.

We thought about doing the set in black-and-white but we didn't want to lose the warm wood or cold metal. They go hand in glove, after all. Or did, once upon a time.

We do actually use these tools. That's what tools are for after all.

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