The predictability of the unpredictable
The term “hot” is something of an understatement when it comes to Kuhn Special Steel’s foundry, and when molten and cold metal meet during the processing of the company’s high-quality steel components, it is worth contemplating the spectacle that results.
Foundry manager Christian Laudenberg is also a passionate amateur photographer, so he knows how to capture images like this one, taken at furnace “D” and entitled Furnace Ladle Fireworks. It shows a stage in the process known as “tapping”, when the furnace is opened to allow the molten metal to flow out into the ladle. While a forklift driver kitted out in full protective clothing skilfully positions the ladle, another employee controls the furnace’s hydraulically operated tilt function. The intense brightness of the molten metal bathes the scene in a special light. The concentration and sense of tension that dominate this moment are accentuated by the striking contrasts, strong delineation and carefully chosen perspective of the image.
The operation is always something of a show even for those involved in it, as the tapped molten metal is quickly deprived of its oxygen content. The reactions that take place create an impromptu firework display for the foundry employees, who nevertheless keep a respectful distance. The process takes place several times an hour, so it has become routine, but it never ceases to be an attraction.
As in many other areas at Kuhn Special Steel, it is extremely important for the people involved to be able to rely on each other. Well-practised cooperation is vital in this respect, given the communication difficulties that arise from high levels of noise, the use of heavy protective clothing and the presence of dazzling sources of light. Christan Laudenberg’s photographic image impressively illustrates the interaction between man, material and chemical reaction.
The Kuhn calendar initiative, a creative project carried out jointly with the painter Cindy Kuhn-Chuang and employees of Kuhn Special Steel, aims to capture photographic impressions of our working environment.
A snapshot of the photographer
Since when have you been working for the company?
What do you do there?
How and when did you take up photography as a hobby?
I’ve always liked photography, and as more and more opportunities to take pictures of my kids presented themselves, I got myself an SLR camera and started to take it up more seriously.
What kind of camera do you use?
Canon 650 D / Canon 5D Mark III
What are your favourite subjects?
Scenes involving the family, and also nature.