The Blade & The Bone | Part I

The Blade

Rain and drizzle outside, typical Highland weather, a fiery forge inside. A warm lining to the West Highland cloud. Tools, metal, bones and blades. And the knifemaker with a couple of pieces of pointed steel midway through production.

A small part 

A photo essay this is not, more a fleeting glimpse, a small part of a larger process and a learning curve with a new camera.

Last year, a few days into my X100T ownership I found myself in the North-West corner of the Isle of Skye taking images of my pal Jake, the knife maker, as he worked on a couple of his latest steel creations. He works alone in a remote croft house creating hi-end knives, dirks, and other blades of various shapes and sizes for customers all over the globe. And the results of his efforts are nothing short of magnificent.

It was a chance to see a very small part of the creative process of blade making and also to try out my newly acquired Fuji X100T camera which I’d received just a few days beforehand. Two birds/one stone as they say.

A craftsman AND his tools

As I don't know a whole lot about knife making, I'll let the photos deal with that and write here a few words on my very early experiences using this camera (not a review by any means, just a few words). In hindsight I wish I’d waited a while longer to become a little more acquainted with how this small, new-to-me, fixed lens camera really worked before attempting anything like this. I figured the best way of learning was to ignore the instruction booklet and get out there and use it - maybe not such a wise move. At least knowing how to hold focus would have perhaps resulted in less missed shots, especially in the dim lighting conditions of this dark workshop.

My Nikon is a great focus warrior but its size and armour weigh it down. The Fuji, like a small Sgian Dubh is light and agile by comparison but, like I mentioned, it takes a little bit of learning, especially if it's to be taken into more challenging environments and situations like this one. And yes, the lens isn't pin sharp at f2 wide open either. Why isn't this written in huge lettering across the top of the box it came in?! Not a huge deal once you become aware of it though. And why didn't I read those instructions...

Of course, it’s all a learning process and, like with any new piece of equipment, the X100T would take a little time and patience to master. A DSLR it is not, and maybe that's not such a bad thing. 

Perhaps I’m being a little harsh here on this beautiful little camera - a few of my favourite images from this photo session were unfortunately unusable. And of course I blamed Fuji and this new little photo making machine. What’s that they say about a good craftsman ALWAYS blaming his tools? Okay, I'm joking, a blacksmith would never blame his tools, right? So, a dark workshop was probably not the best choice for my first real outing with this recently acquired piece of equipment without first figuring out a few of the basics. But you live and learn.

Next time, I'll try for somewhere a bit brighter, a lightbulb factory perhaps.

'The Blade and The Bone: Part II' will be posted soon - outside, daylight with bones.

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Archie MacFarlane, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh, , EH8

Photographer and Designer based in Scotland.