Frequently Asked Questions about 'StahlArt'
Dr.-Ing. Harald Finster
Gulpener Str. 26
+49 241 84075
What caused your interest in industrial photography?
I am fascinated by old industrial installations since my early childhood, when I travelled by train with my parents and passed the steel mill at Hagen Haspe, where I could watch the tapping of the blast furnaces. Industry has been part of my everyday life. One day, I noticed, that this world began to change rapidly and was in danger to disappear. I started photographic documentation.
Do you consider your industrial photographs as art or as documentation?
Both! Photographic documentation was the initial goal of my work. I intended to preserve vanishing industrial architecture in images. It turned out, however, that randomly shot pictures did not meet the requirements of my goal, and that even documentary photographs require a formal design, which is always the result of subjective decisions, from the selection of the object, the incorporation of spacial context, design of illumination and perspective to the form of presentation. Although my intention now exceeds 'pure' documentation (which is - strictly speaking - impossible), my design always focuses on the photographed object. I refuse the abuse of industrial installations as vehicles for pseudo-intellectual (want-to-be-artistic) work as inacceptable.
Is it dangerous to take photographs in industrial ruins?
Setting foot on abandoned places is not without risk and requires experience, circumspection and a vigilant eye. Each step should be considered carefully, and a rusted through floor plate might be hidden under dust or overgrown with moss. However, as long as "Free Driving for Free Citizens" remains the top maxim of the idiot's lobby, I consider taking part in road traffic as much more dangerous.
You also show photographs of active plants. Did you get permission for that?
Yes! I am especially grateful to the following companies: Bruch & Cie., Coenen Klinker, DK-Recycling (Duisburg), DSK (Kokerei Kaiserstuhl, Kokerei Prosper, Heinrich Robert), Forges de Clabecq (DUFERCO), Hanson Brick (Claughton,UK), Hoesch Spundwand und Profil GmbH (Dortmund), HKM (Duisburg), ISPAT WHG (Duisburg Hochfeld), K+S Kali und Salz GmbH, KVK (Czech Republic), Mileta (Czech Republic), National Coal Board (South Wales), OVAM Openbare Afvalstoffenmaatschappij voor het Vlaamse Gewest, Rheinbraun (Brikettfabrik Wachtberg), Saarstahl AG (Völklingen), TAG (Krefeld), Traitex SA, Trinecké Železárny, TSTG Schienen Technik GmbH, TKS Thyssen Krupp Stahl AG (Kokerei August Thyssen Hütte), Usines Gustave Boël (DUFERCO), USINOR/Carsid (Cockerill Sambre Charleroi), Weirton Steel (WV), Vallourec & Mannesmann, wep wärme- energie und prozesstechnik GmbH and many owners of small anthracite mines in Pennsylvania.
What kind of camera do you use?
I use a Hasselblad 2000 FC/M with lenses from 40 to 350 mm (plus 2x extender) for moving objects and whenever I have to work under deadline pressure. Whenever possible, I use a large format camera 'Linhof Technikardan S' with lenses in the range from 38 to 1200 mm. On the one hand this camera is extremely compact and lightweight, on the other hand it offers all movements of a full featured studio camera, which are required for uncompromising architectural photography. I use sheet film (4x5 inch) and roll-film as well. In addition I use a Canon EOS 5D.
What kind of film do you use?
My standard slide films are Fuji Provia F (100 ASA) and Velvia (50 ASA). (A Kodachrome 25 will probably remain wishful thinking forever.) Agfapan 25 is my favourite roll film, and Agfapan 100 my standard sheet film. Unfortunately, APX 25 and APX 100 sheet film are no longer available. Thus, I am currently using Ilford Delta 100 and FP4 in ID11 and (experimental) Mörsch (MZB).
Are your photographs available as a book?
Not yet, sorry. I am still looking for sponsors :-)
When and where do you show your photographs?
The audio-vision 'StahlArt' is available on request. The show consists of 350 medium-format slides with original sound.
I also present my photographs in the course of exhibitions.
We are kindly requesting you to make your best quotation for following materials (long specification follows)
Sorry, I am not in the position to deliver 10.000 tonnes of coke per year to India or to install a huge cooling tower in Russia. I take photographs of industrial installations. Construction and operation should be done by those, who know better than I how to do it :-)
I (or even better "My son") has to give a lecture on blast furnaces at school tomorrow. Could you please send some information?
Sorry, but you should do your homework by yourself. Of course, I am willing to answer specific questions.