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Sucker Rod Photo Shoot - TRC Services

August 14, 2009 -  at epic any excuse to get a new piece of photo gear is good enough for us, so when a new client asked us to help with an animation showing the shot peening process on their reconditioned Sucker Rods - we invested in a 4" 0 Photo Softbox Lighting Tent. It was the first time we used this piece of equipment, and we were very pleased with the results.  So here is the back story to the product photos shown here.  We also did some 3D modeling of the metal rod which is included as well. .  

Sucker Rods are the metal rods used to literally suck oil out of the ground. You can see them in use in a photo of a pump jack (they are the rods extending from the Horse Head to into the earth). Sucker Rods work in some very harsh environments, so they need to be replaced on a regular basis. Old sucker rods are typically reclaimed and recondition. The leading company in the industry is TRC Services. While their competition uses sand blasting to recondition sucker rods, TRC Services uses a shot peening process that greatly extends the life of a reconditioned sucker rod. They first inspect each rod to determine if it is fit for use. If the rod is sound, it goes through the shot peening process. Sucker Rods that go through their unique process result in a 50% savings over purchasing a string of new sucker rods.

When we met with President of TRC Services, he brought with him a reconditioned sucker rod. For most, a reconditioned sucker rod is not all that exciting even after it has gone through the shot peening process. Although the client hired us to do some animation work on how the Shot Peening process works, we decided to do some close-up photography of the sucker rod, and create a 3D model so we could do all kinds of things with it later.

For the photos, I started with my Nikon D5000 and 18-200mm lens. The flip down viewfiner is nice, but cannot be used with all tripods (my preference is a side articulating viewfinder). Using the 4" photo tent, we lit the metal rod through the sides of the tent. For the close up shots, I switched to a Panasonic FZ-50 with Raynox Microscopic Lens M-250.  My exposures were bracked around 1 sec at f3.5, ISO 100. To add a little excitement to the shot, I decided to use a sparkler behind the Rod.

For the 3D modeling, we created the sucker rod in Google's 3D program Sketch-up, and later moved the model to 3D Max where we added detail, texture, and had some fun with the lighting.

The client was pleased with the results and we are now waiting to start on a second project for them.

Posted by Vic Cherubini on August 14, 2009

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Pump jack showing sucker rod assembly.

Close up of Sucker Rod profile

Adding a little excitement to a sucker rod photo.

A sparkler did the trick.

3D Sucker Rod close up showing shot peened surface.

Light tent used to photograph sucker rod in the studio.

3D Sucker Rod Illustrations with reflections - by epic software group.