I am fascinated by the origin of products and the processes used to create them. I'm kinda nerdy that way, but this blog is not a confession. It is about creating photos of a natural raw material named Trona and also the refined product named sodium carbonate. The photos were made for OCI Chemical which is one of the world's largest producers of this material.
Sodium Carbonate is used in countless ways including glass making, baking, casting and scores of other manufacturing processes. It looks like white sand or maybe a movie prop from the set of Scarface.
Trona rocks are interesting things to photograph since they can literally dry and flake on the spot turning their gorgeous amber hue into a less interesting chalky brown. This rock below is on the verge of flaking. What is interesting to me about this one is the reflected yellow shadow which gives the illusion of the light passing through the rock like a crystal.
I used a technique of vigorously scrubbing the scaly flakes from the sample rocks and photographing them before they became cloudy again. I might not have tried this if my client had not shown me this trick, and told me it would not damage the sample.
It was important to show the striations of amber color and not the darker "root beer" seen on the first photo... even though I think that lends some visual interest. I photographed several configurations of the rocks for the client including single hero shots. I also took photos of several together so now I can say that I have taken photos of "rock groups".
Finally, I combined the Trona rock with the sodium carbonate end product for a beginning-to-end style photo.