By Douglas Gritz
My girlfriend is an avid paddelboarder, both for whitewater surfing and flatwater lakes. One prominent figure in the Denver paddelboarder community is Rich Harrison. Rich has a look you’d expect to find more in southern California than Denver. But he brings a little bit of that SoCal culture to Denver. When Rich isn’t busy paddelboarding he is busy working as a landscape contractor with his company Hard Art. He crafts beautiful rack and plant landscapes for homeowners. Rich is also does metal sculpture and has several sculptures around downtown Louisville, where he lives, including one of Stevie Ray Vaughn that involves fire. It’s pretty impressive.
I called him up and pitched him my ideas for a few portraits. As it happens he was completing a big landscaping project near his home outside Denver and was currently working on a rock wall. I could come near the end of the day to get photographs of him working on that. Afterward we would go to his garage where he was in the middle of a sculpture. I wanted to get some portraits of him at working welding that, too. Here are the resulting portraits photos:
This is the raw image as it came out of the camera. I choked on a LOT of stone dust to get this shot. My gear is still covered with the stuff. Alright, time to start working on this in Photoshop …
Much cooler portrait, huh? In addition to toning, I had to move some elements around in the photo. As shot, I had placed a few of his tools near him where he was cutting the stone. Looking at it later I thought they looked too neat and deliberately placed. So I used Photoshop to carefully move them over by the wall he was working on so it would look more natural. I also added a little bit of grain to the photo to enhance the gritty feel of the action.
This was later back in his garage where he was working a large metal sculpture of a dolphin. The top two exposures were combined to get the final bottom exposure. I did this because the first exposure lacked the dynamic sparks I wanted flying toward the camera lens. The second exposure lacked the bright beam of heat at the tip of the welding tool.
The photo in the background on the left is of Rich’s mom. Rich keeps that portrait in his garage and he wanted to make sure it was included in this portrait.
Finally, I wasted to get a photo of Rich in his garage at a distance. So I waited until twilight when I could get maximum contrast in color between the sky and Rich’s welding work. The darker ambient light also helps focus attention on Rich and the sparks. I love how the sparks form a ring around him on the garage floor. Rich now uses this portraits to promote and market his business and art.