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Tanren 鍛錬

March 5, 2012

OK, I finally got images scanned and processed from my trip to Japan last month.  Sorry for the long wait.


This entire post is from my day photographing Takami Kuniichi at his workshop.  The process he was doing is called “tanren” which essentially translates to “forging”.  Put simply, it’s during this process of making a sword that the raw iron gets melded together into an ingot and then, in further processes, will get hammered and lengthened.  You’ll notice that the images tend to be quite dark.  That’s because all the windows are curtained so that, in the darkness, he can properly read the temperature of both the flame and the iron.  When the time and temperature are right, the iron comes out of the forge to get beaten or cut and folded.  It’s the cutting and folding that give Japanese swords their legendary layers.


Overall, I’m quite happy with the majority of the images.  Unfortunately, I learned a hard lesson about film and airport x-ray machines.  I lost 3 rolls of black and white film due to being highly overexposed.  Why?  Because since I was shooting at a high ISO to begin with, the multiple times that those particular rolls had been through airports caused a cumulative effect, further sensitizing them.  “Don’t you have a lead bag and take the film as carry-on?”, I hear you say.  Yes, I do, but, as I learned, all that means is that the good folk at the security check merely crank up the power of the machines.  The whole experience cost me about 3 dozen rolls of film because, just to be on the safe side, I tossed all the rolls both on the trip and at home that I knew had been through airports more than a couple times.  From now on, they can bloody well hand check my film!


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