Photographing Door Knockers and Fire Hydrants
A fire hydrant and a door knocker have nothing in common, besides the fact that they serve a purpose. However, both can be captured in innovative ways and turned into good images.
Fire hydrants as you know are used by fire departments as a source of high pressured water to fight fires. Often they are painted a bright yellow and are rather easy to spot bedsides that it is illegal to block access to one.
Some cities do paint them in different colors besides the usual yellow or they are sometimes decorated for especial events. Fire hydrants curiously enough probably started as simple cauldrons which were kept full of water and placed at various strategic locations within a city. Also used where water cistern in place for the same purpose.
When photographing them you should look not only for the everyday hydrant and take close ups that highlight details, but a good point is also to capture any writing contained within one that shows date and origination of manufacturing.
It would also be appropriate if at all possible to visit locations where old antique models are kept. This can turn into sorts of a historical photographic project denoting the various models and how they have evolved over the years. Pay attention to fire hydrants that appear to be color coded. This is often done by some agencies to denote low water pressure areas. Although you cannot legally paint or deface a fire hydrant keep tabs on your local municipalities efforts to spruce up some of them.
Often you will see some that have been painted or decorated by others. Take their photos if you see them. Many agencies will often discard old hydrants when its time to replace them, ask if you can have some or at least borrow them. Decorate them in your own particular way and capture their images. Also be aware that not all fire hydrants are made the same, some are underground and only noticeable by a marked metal cover. Take advantage of shots that include a good location or surroundings to include them as part of the fire hydrant shot. Often they can be found in attractive green or flowering spaces, especially in parks and recreation areas.
Since fire hydrants are usually made from iron, they will eventually rust. Do take the opportunity to photographs the effects of time, weather and rust upon them. This alone can serve as a historical account as well as good texture shots.
On some opportune occasions you may come across an open hydrant which is surrounded by people who are enjoying the cooling effects of the water contained within. Depending on where you live you may be fortunate to find unusual subjects parked or even tied to one. Don't miss these shots.
Door knockers, are often very plain and exclusively made for the purpose for which they were intended. However, it never ceases to amaze me how many highly intricately decorated ones I have come across.
Unlike what you may think, you don't need top go to a very fancy restaurant or a bank to find richly detailed door knockers. the best examples that I have found have been on ordinary houses and on several antique stores as well as on historical places.
Whenever you find a good sample, it is incumbent upon you to ask permission. This may seem like a trifle, but to capture good close up images that show their intricacies and detail you will more than likely need to step into the property within which the knocker is located.
Many door knockers are so intricate and interesting that one can possible make an entire series of photographs based simply on them. With attention to detail you should also be able to find some good examples that are attached to interesting doors, even better if they show the effects of weather and time and so does the door.
Like with fire hydrants, if possible include parts of its surroundings or foreground to not only make the image more interesting but it helps with telling a little bit of its location. Look for out of the ordinary examples, samples that resemble faces or mythical creatures, go in close to catch detail and texture and pay attention to their workings too.
These two projects can be interesting and provide ample opportunities to explore other photographic subjects that are seldom noticed simply because they are mostly taken for granted due to their commonness.
However, like many subjects that are apt for photography simply changing a perspective and photographing them in new ways can prove to be good photographic subjects which can be turned into good photographs. Just keep in mind that these are not new subjects, they just need to be looked at from a new perspective and photographed likewise.
With a keen eye and a photographer's mindset, you are sure to find plenty of available subjects on which to practice your art.
Any interesting samples where you live?
I started photographing French door knockers last year. They are so cool. I have many more.
© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez