Monday, November 14, 2011

Picture a Pipe

I entitled this blog "Pipe School" with an extreme awareness of all of its meanings, and I embrace those meanings. It is a school for those who wish to learn a little something about pipes, it is because I am still in school -- I am on campus as I type this -- and it is because I am still learning something about pipes every day. I am a pupil.

This blog, in fact, has been one of the most educational experience for me in terms of pipe related knowledge. I have had to do research for certain stories, ask help from those more established than myself, advertise my blog to friends, family, strangers, and dogs, and so on. One of the most difficult and enjoyable challenges that I have faced in the process of creating this blog has been to begin photographing my pipes.

"But, wait," I hear you say, "there are dozens of great pictures of pipes already on your blog!"

Well, like any young student, I had to rely on the established and experienced masters for those. The majority of those came from the online retailers where I purchased the pipe or from the artisan who sent me the pictures. The pictures they have taken are phenomenal, though I never fully appreciated them until I started trying to take my own photographs.

There is a lot more difficulty in photographing a pipe than I expected, more details than need to be delved into here. Suffice it to say, it is rarely a simple matter of "point-and-click". Smooth pipes reflect light like a mirror, which makes it difficult to get a precise shot of the incredible grain on the surface of the pipe.

Then there is the issue of the background, where one can either find a suitable backdrop that allows the pipe to still remain the central focus of the shot, or one can attempt to edit out the photo's background entirely, leaving a snow white background.

I have recently been attempting the latter. This means a great deal of time to get even a semi-decent final result. When I first realized that I would have to photograph my own pipes or be doomed to a parasitic existence, a leech latched on to the camera of those more dedicating than I, I once again contacted Mr. Neill Archer Roan.

As you have no doubt noticed. Mr. Roan has been an incredible influence for me, not only because he clearly has the skills to pay the bills, but also because he is generous with his time and knowledge and has been a font of useful information. Mr. Roan replied to my inquiry about photographing pipes with a small dissertation about saturation and aperture and filters and histograms and string theory. To put it lightly, my mind melted into the consistency of Irish oatmeal.

Still, I trudged on, failing and failing again, interspersed with the occasional failing. Eventually, I found a small amount of success. Thus, I present to you the first of my attempts at photographing my collection, in chronological order of attempt.

Kurt Huhn's 2011 Smokers' Forum Pipe of the Year and Peterson's 2011 Christmas Blend

Three Cubes (Morta, Sandblast, and Smooth) by Chris Askwith. An entry about these pipes is coming soon.

Two pictures of my newest Castello 55. Incredible grain here!

Pease / di Piazza Bulldog. One of the most comfortable pipes in the hand.

Two Talbert Elans. The only two currently in existence. Again, this pair will have an entry coming shortly about this two beauties.

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