Category Archive for: ‘doeseurope’
This final video means that Print/DVD Supporters can now select any image in this album to receive your 8×10″ (or equivalent) premium Kodak Metallic print. If you missed the opportunity to support us the first time around and you’d like to grab a print, you can do so by sending me an email ([email protected]). I’m still ironing out details but I’m trying to work something out with the awesome folks at The Print Space!
As for the DVD, we’ve been hard at work and hope to get that wrapped up soon too so stay tuned!
How it all came together
I saw Chester’s work over on deviantart about 3-4 years back when I was stalking a fellow photographer by the name of Viona-Art. As most of you know, I’m really into the whole fantasy world of things so when I stumbled in on Viona’s stuff and noticed that she collaborated with a retoucher to bring her images to life… I immediately hit him up with a message and an invitation to collaborate and do something together not truly expecting anything to happen.
Turns out that despite his intimidating dutch name, he was a very friendly fellow and told me to send him something over and he’d see what he could come up with. After much back and forth, this image came up. Curious to see how it was made? Click here to see the layer deconstruction that Chester was kind enough to send our way.
See larger on 500px.
Retouchers, much like photographers always lurk in the background. They never quite get the chance to shine so I wanted to build and capture an image that would feature Chester… but not just any image, a portrait that could show what happens in the mind of a retoucher.
On the flip side, we thought it would be interesting for Chester on his end to build a portrait that would illustrate his vision of Erwan and myself tackling this crazy Von Wong does Europe adventure.
We pulled our resources together – on my end finding Urban exploring photographer Thomas Riguelle to introduce us to the most epic location ever, and on Chester’s end finding Mark Vleminck
from Valkerij Ardanwen… a wild bird raising “farm”.
Check out Mark’s awesome bird place – Valkerij Ardanwen
Chester’s shoot was actually the first photoshoot of our Von Wong does Europe tour… Ironically it’s the last one we actually published but also the image that required the most amount of work to actually bring to life.
To begin with, this image was shot as a panoramic. I wanted to capture the vastness of the space without the traditional wide-angle distortion that you normally get from using a 14-24mm. To do that we shot on a tripod with a Nikkor 50 f1.8 – the only prime lens I had with me at the time. The camera was also tethered onto my laptop which in turn was plugged into an Innovatronix Explorer XT that we had with us at the time so that we could instantly see the results. While I initially wanted to make a HDR panoramic, during the post process I realized that finally… my D700 provided me with all the dynamic range I needed.
& what things looked like @ 14mm
triggers so that they would all fire properly in sequence.
The result? Depth!
Retouching was a painful painful process. Over 60 hours of work went into putting this image together. Chester helped me by acting as a fabulous consultant/client, and did a fantastic job of pointing out when things weren’t good enough. Let me tell you… retouching a portrait for a retoucher is NOT something you want to get into unless you’re down for the challenge!
To begin with, I needed to get some stock footage to create my bird. Thankfully, my parents were doing some renovations so I had ample woodstock lying around the house. This entire bird was literally created out of segments of wood like these:
Eventually though, I worked through things and the image finally began to shape up. Having Chester around to give me pointers and tips when needed was amazing help and simple things… such as paying attention to certain shadows or rules of composition made a huge difference in the final image.
I’m actually quite curious to figure out how I’m going to include this part into my upcoming DVD. To be continued…
On Chester’s end of things…
Not to be outdone, the second half of the project was for Chester to capture an image of Erwan and Me in the midst of our crazy Von Wong does Europe tour.
Chester was significantly faster than me at my edit and actually threw it together a good 6 months earlier than I despite the fact that he had to individually cut out and mask each bird individually. For those of you who want to see the deconstruction, watch the video… it’s quite impressive to see all the work that went into it! Check out his fan page for a higher rez image: https://www.facebook.com/
Creating this image for was a massive undertaking but a very gratifying experience. I can definitely say that I’ve never done anything quite like this in the past and without Chester behind pushing me to make things perfect I don’t think that I would have ever managed to push things that far.
For those of you who watched the video, I would love to hear what you think about his vision of the retouching industry – do people truly want a retoucher, or are they just looking for a photoshopper? Which category do you fall into?
On my end, I quit my job so that I could pursue my passion… and if photography ever becomes a job to me, I hope that I will have the courage to quit that too and move on too.
Thanks for reading guys.
- I’ll be speaking & doing a live demo at Profusion in Toronto on the 18th/19th of June! If you’re around definitely hit me up!Special thanks to those who helped us make this shoot possible:
- The Workshop Factory
Special Gear used:
During my Von Wong Does Europe tour, I had the chance to meet and shoot the amazing cast and crew of the Underwater Realm. Erwan, my videographer put this amazing behind the scenes video together which goes into great detail documenting all the work that went into creating a few shots and some test video footage.
The idea behind this video was to showcase the crazy amount of work necessary to put together a simple day’s photoshoot. True, the day was also a practice for the crew of the UWR, but rarely do you have the luxury of time especially when it comes down to creative projects.
How I met the UWR
I guess some of you are wondering: How did you even get in contact with the folks over at the Underwater Realm in the first place? Did you guys know each other?
The answer is no. I stumbled on them completely by chance way back in 2011 when DIY Photography featured an article about Making A Non Destructible, Mobile, Power Efficient, Waterproof Kino Flo System and couldn’t help but reach out to them. Much to my surprise they replied.
At this point in time, I was still working as a full time mining engineer with no plans of quitting so it seemed like meeting and collaborating with them all the way in London was nothing more than a wistful dream. Somehow though, life brought us together and when I wrote back to him in March 2012, Dave Reynold’s reply was a simple and direct: Let’s do it.
Fast forward a couple months and we’re zipping accross Europe a couple days after my shoot with Pyrotechnician Andrey DAS. The travel has been quite hectic all around and there wasn’t very much communication between ourselves and the UWR due to extremely busy schedules and travelling constraints so things had to be finalized quite last minute.
We settled in at RealmHQ (at the time) around 10 PM and Dave and I sat around the living room table and began casually planning the one shot we were really looking to achieve – an underwater behind the scenes photograph worthy of a two page magazine spread. We wanted to create an extremely stylized and dramatic Behind the Scenes image of the cast & crew at work giving a sneak preview at the awesome project that they’re putting together. The image could then be used for a two page spread on a magazine without necessary giving out the plots or storyline.
Our morning began bright and early as the diving pool was only available from 7 AM to 4 PM. This meant that we would be dealing with an extremely tight schedule. Complex makeup, hair and costumes were going to have to be done on 4 different models, lighting & camera equipment to be set up underwater and the concept smoothed out. This meant a lot of waiting and testing as we dealt with the logistics of dealing with a high end underwater photoshoot. Simple things like swapping out a battery or memory card would take up to 30 minutes!
Since I only had only had small diving strobes with me that was really only designed to shoot small marine animals from very close up, I had no choice but to think of a solution to trigger the strobes on the surface of the water.
Since the camera was going to be stationary on a tripod underwater, I rigged up a small strobe that was suspended directly over the water with the help of a Nasty Clamp and a piece of wood. This way, I would be able to point my underwater strobe vertically upwards to trigger my speedlight, which would then be able to fire across the room to trigger my Linkstar 500 Watt studio strobe … which would then create all the light I would be needing for my shot.
Setup light diagram provided by Sylights.com: http://www.sylights.com/vonwong/6780-uwr
Once all the elements were ready, we barely had any time left in the day. Rather than take the time to shoot each person individually, we decided to do everything all at once, so we had the entire crew of the UWR dive into the pool all at once. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to nail one single shot where everyone was perfect but with a little bit of compositional magic, we managed to pull off the shot that we really wanted to achieve.
And the final shot:
On top of the shot we wanted to create, I had the opportunity to shoot some additional frames of the actors as they practiced swimming around. This allowed me to make some pretty nifty images that can now be used as promotional material for the Underwater Realm. Though these stories don’t quite exist yet… who knows down the line what crazy projects will result of this endeavour!
If you guys enjoyed these photos and videos, I would like to invite you to check out one of the five short videos that the Underwater Realm pulled together:
Also, if you’re looking to try out underwater photography on your own, I’ve taken all my experience from this shoot and a couple others and written out an article that you might enjoy! Click on the banner below to check it out:
Our tour is sponsored by: http://www.slrlounge.com/ and our studio equipment/lighting/equipment sponsored by: www.lovinpix.com
- Congrats to Ghislain Leduc for winning last weeks bracelet draw!
- I will be giving a 2.5 day workshop in London, UK on the 22nd, 23rd, 24th of March… if you’re interested, subscribe for my workshop updatesand I’ll contact you soon!
- I’ve been nominated in the [FRAMED] awards as one of the best conceptual photographers! Drop me a vote or two to support me: http://bit.ly/10QntqG
- I am hard at work on the Von Wong does Europe DVD! There is only one more BTS video remaining and we shall be fulfilling our print commitments!
Hope you enjoy this weeks video. This week we bring to you Part 2 of our shoot with Ballerinas from the National Slovak Theatre! I tried to make things a little bit more technical for this weeks blog post video so let me know if you preferred this or if you liked it more casual! For those of you that are curious, the software that I used at the end is a nifty online diagram drawing sotware also known as Sylights who happens to also be one of our Von Wong does Europe partners. It’s a fantastic tool!
As mentioned in the video the setup is rather simple. The idea is to have a bunch of large but harsh light sources that rim your subjects from all direction. Front, side and back. There was no magical ratio for those of you wondering! It’s one of those feeling things for me.
When I build a lighting setup, rather than follow a pre-scripted formula I tend to build them in sets… so in our case, just having the first two soft boxes set up…followed by the frontal fill… followed by the rear speedlights! All in order Depending on how many people were in the photo the lights would either get closer or father from our set, and depending on what I saw on screen we would make small or larger changes!
For those that are curious on the precise gear we used to create these shots:
- 2x Linkstar 300 Watt strobes
- 1x Linkstar 500 Watt strobe
- 2x large soft boxes with grids
- 1x large octobox with grid
- 2x Nasty Clamps
- 1x Nikon Sb-900
- 1x Nikon Sb-800
- 2x Nikon Sb-700
If you’re looking to produce a similar look to these shots and simply don’t have access to studio strobes, you can recreate a similar look if you have a lot of space and some bed sheets to create large soft panels of lighting. Depending on where you place your light in relation to the body, you’ll be able to have a more or less of a dramatic feel.
Check out the final results, let us know what you think. My personal favorite? This gorgeous one of Ana and Dominik.
BTS by Erwan Cloarec
As part of our Von Wong does Europe tour we were given the privilege to work with Ana Beschia and a group of dancers of the National Slovak Theatre. We were given full creative liberty for this photoshoot so Ana and I set about planning for the photoshoot through a series of skype calls and facebook messages.
One thing I’ve noticed is that a random ballerina in a public location can make for some amazing imagery such as those created by the ballerina project. That being said though, I’ve always been more of an epic-large scale shooter so I wanted to challenge myself to create something similar… with more dancers.
While planning this photoshoot with Ana, we wanted to keep the looks very simple and classical for the outdoor half of our photoshoot. Guys in leggings, girls in tutus with slight variations but still in the very recognizable white elegance of a ballerina. By keeping a classic look in a historically rich environment, we were certain that we could come up with some striking imagery.
The day of our photoshoot, we were presented with a gorgeous cloudy sky. This was great news for us since the dancers were all in radiant white clothing and direct sunlight would have made our life quite complicated. The cloudy skies meant that we would not be needing to overpower the sun so we left our Linkstar studio strobes & Innovatronix battery packs in the car and decided to travel with nothing more than a four way flash bracket, speedlights, Undfned fany pack and Sirui Tripod.
We met up bright and early around 9 AM at a coffee shop in the main square of Bratislava, which we converted into a temporary home base for hair, makeup and clothing. While the dancers were arriving, waking up and getting ready, Ana and I did a quick scouting of the surrounding area and planned out the first two shots that we wanted to achieve. The first, to have the dancers climb on top of a statue of Napolean.
For this shot, I had my camera mounted on my Sirui Tripod with a 70-200mm lens. For those of you who are curious, the reason I used a longer lens was to compress my perspective as much as possible to make the dancers look like they were on a similar plane. I used the marble of a fountain located in the centre of the square to add an odd reflection on the lower left corner of the image and shot the images in bracketing mode to compensate for the movement of the clouds.
On the second shot, we used the foursquare flash bracket to add a little bit of light to fill in the shadows since our dancers were slightly hidden in the shadows. This shot was mildly more challenging as people kept constantly passing through! Thankfully though, the dancers were able to quickly reset and adapt between shots.
From there, we found an old rustic street that was extremely cute. Since this street had a distinct european traditional flavor to it, we thought that it would be interesting to add a little splash of contemporary colour to the surrounding area so we proceeded to get the dancers changed up and hopping on the streets. Since I knew that it would be highly improbable to be able to capture all dancers in the perfect moment as my motion capture skills are nowhere near as amazing as those of Lois Greenfield , I threw down my tripod and locked down my focus so that if necessary, I could cut and paste the perfect position of each dancer from a variety of images. Once again, tourists were a constant struggle (see video!) but despite it all… we still managed to pull off our shot.
We then walked to the side of the Danube river and placed our gorgeous dancers on the ledge. After taking a couple shots with only the dancers, we realized that the shot could be enhanced just a little bit if we could throw in a cute couple to sit on the bench facing the dancers so we captured an old pair of tourist and invited them to participate in our photograph! The result? This photograph was actually shot 3 stops underexposed to make sure that we had a beautiful sky and soft even lighting… and then recovered in lightroom.
Finally, we had the dancers do some crazy acrobatics with a lamp post despite the protests of a public security officer. Although he did attempt to stop us a couple times, we pretended not to understand and simply forged ahead. He wasn’t very intimidating in his tricycle!
Special thanks to those who helped us make this shoot possible:
- The Workshop Factory
Special Gear used:
- Video: Erwan Cloarec Visuals
- Assistant: Alistair Stewart
- Dancers: Ana Beschia, Alice White, Alexandra Walton, Bethan Smith, Martin Anderson, Dominik Slavkovský
Videoby Erwan Cloarec
For those of you interested in our upcoming DVD check out: http://www.vonwong.com/blog/europe/dvd
One of the artists we were invited to cover was Cecilio Martinez – a leather mask designer. His work has been featured all over the place, up to the level of the 2012 Superbowl where Madonna herself was wearing one his masks! Pakdi, one of our mutual friends and a fellow videographer actually bumped into Cecilio while on vacation in Ibiza and he sounded like a perfect candidate for our tour so we got into contact with him and began putting things together.
From the beginning, we noticed that communication was going to be quite challenging since Cecilio’s english was quite basic and our spanish pretty much non-existant. We never even managed to have so much as a skype conversation or phone call while putting the entire thing together! Despite the fact that things were not even confirmed after we had begun our Europe tour we maintained faith that everything would work out and… well they did!
Straight from the start we knew that we were going to have a multitude of challenges: Burgos, the city that Cecilio happened to be from, was a small city with not much to offer in terms of local modelling talent so we knew that we were going to be working with a bunch of first time models. The location that we had wanted to shoot in (an amazing set of ruins) also happened to be closed on the particular day that we were arriving, meaning that there was a chance that we wouldn’t even be able to enter the site ! Finally, we would have no studio lighting, or portable battery packs whatsoever with us since we wanted to return everything to Lovinpix.com rather than pay a fortune in shipping to get everything out!
With fingers crossed, we headed out to the amazing set of ruins that Cecilio had scouted with our models to figure out just what we were going to be able to do!
Upon arriving we were faced with good and bad news – The ruins were partially… but not completely accessible to us. Some areas were merely fenced off, meaning we could bypass them with some fancy ninja tricks whereas others were sealed off with massive steel locks.
Since we arrived relatively early, the sun hadn’t yet reached it’s noon day high so we strategically chose some spots that wouldn’t be exposed to the sun. While the models set up in a small corner off to the side, I began to prepare my lighting setup using a stand-in model: our translator Alejandro.
I find that when shooting with a group of people and you have a bit of spare time, it’s always good to try and gain that advance to scout out your lighting.
Here’s what the scene looks like without any added lighting. Extremely flat and shaded!
Shade is one of the best things you can ask for as a photographer when shooting outdoors – especially when you have minimal amounts of artificial lighting devices. Shade gives you a nice even shade of light to play with which is great so all you really need to focus on is how to bring out the subjects that you’re trying to shoot.
Since we didn’t have any light stands with us, we had to deal with certain downsides such as figuring out where we could put our strobes. Since we had a pair of Nasty Clamps
with us, we proceeded to try and clip them on any available surface to see what options for lighting we actually had. Finally, we settled on leaving them in two grooves a little bit to the side and behind the models. These lights would help simultaneously pop out our models while lighting up the smoke from our smoke grenade! From there we only needed some frontal fill which was provided by our Voice Activated Lightstand.
For the second shot that we played with, the sun had already begun to slowly creep forward and was already bleeding into our shot. You can notice how the top of the heads of our models have a slight glow to them. To combat the harsh shadows, I threw in two additional flashes mounted on a Sirui Tripod and foursquare bracket as my key light and left a strobe directly behind Cecilio to give our models that additional glow and separation from the background. In this shot, I really wanted to figure out a way to have Cecilio appear on the photograph because it’s so rare that you actually see designers with their own creations. We figured that transforming all the models into something a little statu-esque would give us the opportunity to set the story of Cecilio actually working on one of his own creations.
Finally, the third shot had to be completed in bright sunlight. WE threw all four flashes onto a foursquare bracket held by one of my models now converted to a Voice Activated Lightstand. Since we were shooting in harsh sunlight AND lighting full body shots, I really needed to boost all flashes to max power to be able to get that slight surreal “spotlight” feeling. By leaving the camera on a tripod, I was able to simply erase my voice activated modelstand who was standing as close as she could get to get the maximum output from our flashes. This also allowed us to remove the people holding up our the poor Bianca that I was torturing to get the shot I wanted.
So that’s pretty much it in terms of lighting setup! Hope you enjoyed that.
If you guys head over to DIYPhotography.net tomorrow (update: here’s the link! http://diyphotography.net/shooting-in-public-this-is-how-ben-did-it) , I’ll be writing up a post talking about how to deal with tourists interrupting your shoots!
Thanks and please leave any questions/comments.
Special thanks to those who helped us make this shoot possible:
- The Workshop Factory
- Special Gear used:
BTS by Erwan Cloarec
Natasha Baker – Portrait of an Olympic Paradressage rider by Erwan Cloarec
Natasha and I happened on each other completely by chance. A fan of mine and fellow photographer Dan Foster spontaneously contacted me on facebook and asked if I would be interested in shooting horses while touring through London. As a horse lover, my initial response was: SWEET, HORSES!! but that was soon dampened by the fact that I actually needed a subject to photograph since the purpose of our tour was to shoot creative portraits of artists, not of animals. Luckily for me, Dan and Natasha actually had a shoot scheduled together so he used the opportunity to ask her if she’d be interested in participating in the project. A couple skype conversations later, she was confirmed!
Meeting with Natasha the first time around turned out to be quite a challenging experience. For one, she doesn’t have an actual street address… so while one would assume from the videos that we were in the middle of the countryside, we actually happened to be in the residential suburbs of West London. Erwan and I had a happy moment driving around the town asking people: Do you where we can find a farm with horses? And contrary to what you might assume… few people actually knew there was a farm less than a km away from their houses! After a good 20 minutes of fruitless searching, we eventually gave up and camped at an intersection while we waited for Natasha to come rescue us. Two minutes later, as she drove over, Erwan and I shared a moment of confusion as we commented to each other: “She can drive?”
So yes, turns out she actually she had a pimped out car that she could drive around with using her arms. Pretty sweet. She gave us a tour of her gorgeous house and farm so that I could get a grasp of the space I would get to play with the next day. She also took the time to introduce me to her beautiful horses JP a Polish Warmblood and BamBam a KWPN. With those two elements clearly in mind, we retreated back to her place to sketch out the shots that we would attempt to create the next day.
The result was three concepts, quite different from one another… to give Natasha an interesting variety of shots that could tell a story. I’ve found that planning shots in advance rather than gambling on improvisation skills, and taking the time to doodle them out (even though they can be quite ugly at times) are a great way to communicate with your clients or fellow artists the image that you’re trying to create.
The next day, we returned back to Natasha’s farm with a lot less difficulty and we had the chance to meet Dan, who actually made the trip down to come and assist. It was great to have him on board not just for an extra set of hands (and spare D700 I ended up needing!) but also because he has a lot of experience shooting horses and was able to provide us with constant tips to make the job easier.
Although we had planned to begin the day at 8AM… bright and early so that we wouldn’t have to fight too much with the harsh midday sun, by the time we had lugged the bales of hay and equipment across the field to get everything set up and ready to go the sun had already reached full mid day strength! As I mentioned in the video, it’s pretty much impossible to light a horse from a good 6 feet away with a speedlight in mid day sun (f9!) but luckily we had a set of Innovatronix Explorer Minis to power our studio strobes in the middle of the open field! The alternative would have been to drag out a 1000 feet of extension chords… a far less exciting prospect. To light the shot, I initially threw on a couple softboxs hoping to diffuse the light and avoid getting the harsh glows of sweat from the horses bodies but unfortunately even our 500 Watt Linkstar flashes from lovinpix.com weren’t powerful enough so we had to remove them and live with the shinny horses! To help Natasha pop out of the background, I threw in a pair of strobes directly behind her to make her hair shine & glow. Since I had to shoot each horse individually due to personality issues, this meant that I could focus all my flashes to light the horses individually.
From there it was just a question of getting the horses in exactly the right position. Mints served as a great way for Natasha to tempt the horses closer and from there it was trial and error as well as a fancy little bit of photoshop composition to bring us to the final result:
The second concept was a lot more simple. Since we were shooting indoors, the bright afternoon sunlight was no longer much of an issue and I could actually use it as an extremely soft light source to fill the shot. All that was needed was a LumoPro LP160 Flash directly behind Natasha to add just a little bit of glow to the image! Although we had initially used water to create the tear, we soon noticed that it really didn’t give the effect that we wanted so Dan came up with the brilliant idea of using vaseline instead. Even though the tear didn’t turn out quite perfect (turned out being more white than translucent) a little bit of photoshop helped smooth things out !
For the last shot, we fall into a category of image that I feel the most comfortable in – dark, dramatic, epic… We found a massively long extension chord and plugged in a smoke machine and ran around with it trying to catch the wind so that it would blow in the right direction. Unfortunately for us, the open barn was extremely windy so the smoke was blowing in all directions! We began the shoot by acquainting JP to the smoke, by letting him get used to the sound and smoke and although he was quite jittery for the entire shoot, he soon settled in. Lighting wise, we simply had two massive softboxes on either side and had Natasha ride through them, timing the shots so that Natasha was positioned just a little bit past the flashes. Once the lights were set up, all that remained to do was a shoot trial and error… trying to get everything right at the same time – lighting, smoke, horse and human. It’s important during these trial and error phases to guide your model, to come up with constant ideas of poses… and when you run out of ideas, simply ask the artists that you’re shooting if they have any of their own. Quite often that small exchange between two artists can generate even better ideas and creations!
After a full day of shooting, we finally wrapped things up around 7-8 PM before charging into the portrait interview half of our project. The interview lasted over two hours and Erwan did an amazing job summarizing the entire video into an Olympic level portrait of Natasha Baker.
Note: I hope you find these articles inspiring. THe point of them is not to tell you HOW to light your shots, or how to reproduce identical lighting setups but rather to hopefully encourage you to go out there and shoot yourselves! For those interested in exact lighting setups, feel free to browse my blog where I take the time to include a lighting setup of most shots that are posted! If you have any comments or suggestions, please leave them in the box below!
Special thanks to those who helped us make this shoot possible:
- The Workshop Factory
Special Gear used:
BTS by Erwan Cloarec
Andrey DAS – Artist Portrait by Erwan Cloarec
I can’t quite remember how DAS and I met… whether he saw my work and started speaking with me or vice versa but I do recall stumbling upon his fan page and having that “oh my god that was you!” moment when I saw a couple of his art pieces on display online. The image in question that really struck me was this one, for those of you that are curious. It also happens to be one of the most popular images on 1x.com
DAS wrote to me randomly one day and told me that it would be amazing if we could work together. I agreed but since he was in Paris and me, in Montreal the idea of a collaboration seemed quite far off… Somehow though, my life decided to throw me a massive curve ball and before I knew it, I was planning a tour across Europe with videographer Erwan Cloarec. DAS was one of the first artists I contacted to collaborate with and although we weren’t quite certain what we wanted to do together, we knew it would have to be epic.
Things were quite challenging to put together with 6 hours of time difference and 5500 kms between us but nevertheless, we managed to whip up a schedule and an amazing abandoned location located just an hour out of Paris with a whole bunch of talent – from fire jugglers, models, light painters and a stunt crew.
Day 1 – Prep
DAS and I met for the first time on the 15th of May to scout the location in advance and make sure that we had a good sense of what we were going to be creating. It’s always a weird thing to meet someone you admire and only know electronically for the first time. You have all sorts of pre-conceived notions in your mind of who this person is and suddenly there they are standing in front of you. Whether they match what you had in your mind or not… it’s still definitely an odd sensation… anyways, I digress.
Since we were going to be shooting in an abandoned building it was absolutely critical for us to arrive prepared – to know not only WHAT we were going to be shooting but WHERE we would be shooting. Day 1 was just that – scouting, imagining and testing – both camera settings, flame strengths and so on and so forth. If you ever plan on doing something similar, definitely make sure that you do trials and error to see what flames look best on your camera.
Day 2 – Shoot Day
Day 2 of our shoot began the next evening at 8 PM – our entire crew of over ten people showed up quite conspicuously at the train station of the local township.
After everyone arrived, we ran into our first hurdle: The gates that were opened the day before that would allow us to park on location were now shut tight. This meant that we would have a hell of a time getting gear (photo, video, tripods, extinguishers, liquid paraffin, kevlar, accessories and more…). Not bothering to panic, Erwan and I did some quick scouting and quickly found an alternative route into the Asylum. Once in place, we quickly unloaded the car only to be discovered by some locals who told us they would be closing the secondary exit. We then had to move all the vehicles back out (though by this time the gear was already safely unloaded and hidden), and had no choice but to park about a km away on the local streets before making our way back to the location – this time in a much more stealthy manner as we had to avoid the gate warden. After about 45 minutes of cat and mouse with the local warden, we were finally ready to begin shooting.
Small note before continuing.
DAS and I had decided that we wanted to take AMAZING shots straight out of camera, without photoshop. It is too easy these days to snigger at a photo and say: “well its just photoshop” so we really wanted to push the boundaries on what was possible to create in camera… something that was REAL. What we wanted to create is simple to do on photoshop… but in camera would be a whole different ballpark. So that was the constraint and challenge we set ourselves, even though we knew it could mean that the shots would be “less perfect” … or even miss out completely.
So how’s it done? Check out the second part of our video! And for those too lazy to watch: In two words –> Multiple Exposure:
With the entire crew featured here:
Conclusion… or not
Although we turned out with some great shots the more complex shots of merging light painting and fire breathing didn’t quite turn out before the sun rose at 5 AM to interrupt us. DAS and I were still certain that we could do far better than just what we did that day… so we reconvened a couple days later, this time with a crew of friends from Strobi.fr. The concept was to create an Angel of fire but how and where we were actually going to make that happen, we hadn’t quite decided yet. Despite the rain, we took a good 3 hours to hunt down the perfect location: A rustic church in the middle of downtown Paris… located right next to a fire station.
The first thing we did upon deciding on our location was waltz straight over to the fire station and ask them if we could take photographs in front of the church… omitting the fact that any fire would be involved. That out of the way, we had…theoretically anyways… asked and been granted permission to take photographs in front of the Church. Were we certain that we would manage to get out of there without being stopped? Nope… but it was definitely worth the gamble!
Since we had decided (still) to achieve our angel of fire in camera, the first step was to do a bunch of tests:
- What was the perfect combination of ISO/aperture/Shutterspeed to get the best wings of flame?
- What type of fireball did we want? What settings for that fireball?
- What sequence did we need to shoot in?
- What power to set the flashes?
All this was done, trial and error, from 1-2 AM… in the rain… in the middle of downtown paris… 3 seconds away from a fire station.
The final result?
With the crew from shoot #2 featured here:
Special thanks to those who helped us make this shoot possible:
- The Workshop Factory
Special Gear used:
- SIRUI T-2205X
with a K20x provided to us by Lovinpix.com
- Nikon D800 – provided to us by Daniel Huturbise
- Liquid Paraffin
- Braided Kevlar Rope
- Umbrella – Provided by Virginie Barrault-Guignard
- Second Video: Nicolas Sarkissian
- Assistant: Virginie Barrault-Guignard, Nicolas Vallet, Regis Matthey, Olivier Lemarchand, Tania Dao-Castes, Sophie, Wen Jie Yang, Antoine Peltier, Opalescence, Joe, Thomas, Baba
- Stunts: David FunxRiders, Burn Crew Concept
- Script Editor: Kara Jeffrey
- Sound Editor: Remy Sealey
- Motion Graphics: Eric Sanchez
I know it’s been a very long time since we last put anything new up (photos, videos or otherwise)… To be honest we were expecting things to go faster too in terms of releasing the video footage but we’ve been spending a lot of time really tweaking things – how we’re structuring the videos, ensuring that we will be able to release one after another continuously, matching styles, preparing the DVD content, etc…. ! We decided to take a small gamble and guess that you would prefer waiting an extra week and have consistently awesome content rather than rush things out… were we right?
Erwan’s been working night and day and we’re confident that we’ll be able to bring you the first video featuring Andrey Das by Monday, followed the next week by Natasha Baker! To give you all a small teaser footage of what we’ve been up to here are a couple screengrabs straight from Erwan’s computer! As you can see there is A LOT of footage that we’ve had to work through, select, transcode, and match… !
In other news, I’m actually headed off to Toronto to check out Profusion 2012 so if anyone’s in the neighbourhood and wants to grab a coffee let me know!
Yes! Absolutely. We have finally returned and this is the first MOMENT I’ve had to actually write a quick update for you guys.
We actually landed from Barcelona in Montreal at 6 PM Friday night. We hit the ground literally running – on my end, recharging all batteries and emptying memory cards to prepare for a wedding bright and early the next day with a 6AM wakeup!!! Erwan, sharing a ridiculously brief 24 hours with his Fiancé after a month of absence before saying goodbye to her as she prepared to catch her own flight back to France to prepare to give birth…
Despite the ridiculously little lack of sleep, the creativity from my Eurotrip carried over and we still managed to come up with some pretty epic images. Here’s one of my favourites from the day:
Anyways back to the Eurotrip!
Our last update left you guys hanging after an amazingly epic shoot with the fantastic crew of the Underwater Realm. Before moving on, they actually made a pretty exciting video update of their own giving you a small sneak peak into the work we did together. I’ll be fine tuning the group photo of them when I get a chance and posting it up for you guys tonight… honestly, it looks absolutely fantastic in full screen… !!
Following our watery adventure with the UWR, we headed off to see Natasha Baker, olympic level para-dressage rider. Things were off to a weird start when we first tried to find her since she currently lives on a hidden farm in the middle of suburban Uxbridge that… has no address! Natasha finally had to come hunt us down and save our poor lost selves but once that was out of the way we took the time to sit down and plan out how our shoot would be put together the next day. We had a quick tour of the farm, introduction to the horses and I sat down with Natasha and we doodled out three shots we wanted to accomplish the next day. For those of you who want to admire my impeccable drawing skills:
Bright and early the next day, we were up and running preparing for an exciting day with the horses. Fellow fan and horse photographer Dan Foz Foster actually dropped in to assist us for the shoot which was quite cool since he had a lot more experience on how to pose and direct horses. Since we were shooting in bright sunlight in the middle of a field, we made great use of the Linkstar studio flashes and Innovatronix Mini Explorer battery packs that were provided to us by Lovinpix.com
Overall, the shoot went extremely well and by the time we actually wrapped the entire shoot and interview it was already 11PM. The interview with Natasha was actually one of the most interesting interviews for me, personally. I was fascinated to see how enthusiastic, passionate and simply happy of a person she was. Natasha is one of the first paraplegics that I have had the opportunity to get to know on a personal level and it was a really enlightening experience for me to see her take her disability and transform it into all sorts of advantageous situations. If anything, I was astonished at how, in her mind, it was almost as if she had been given the gift of being paraplegic!
The next day, it was back in the car to slowly make our way back to catch the eurotrain, down to Paris, and off to Toulouse.
Although we had initially planned to make it to Toulouse that night, we finally caved in to relax one night in Paris, France with Niko Vallet and Andrey Das rather than go out for a straight 13 hour drive. We also took the opportunity to drop off the 8500$ worth of sponsored equipment back with our sponsors from Lovinpix.com…… though we did keep a couple pieces of equipment I plan on reviewing such as an awesome travel tripod from Sirui and a set of Pixel Pawn triggers I had fallen in love with.
We also picked up an old friend of Erwan’s – Alejandro, who we kidnapped to be our translator in Spain. After a late night in Paris, “sur les Quais de Senne”… we were back in the car driving down towards Toulouse…!
In Toulouse, we wanted to do things a little differently and organized a photoshoot… for ourselves. Francesco and Jean Christophe took it upon themselves to give us a tour of Toulouse as well as the amazing opportunity to shoot at an old aviation museum. This was great because it gave us the chance to actually catch up in and get a bunch of polaroids shot as well as prep the envelopes to have them sent out.
From there, it was back on the road to head down to Burgos, Spain where we met up with leather mask/corset designer Cecilio. You may recognize his work from the 2012 superbowl intermission with Madonna… check it out –>
Despite his father falling ill and being stuck in the hospital over the last couple weeks, he still managed to put together an amazing shoot with three first time models in an amazing set of ruins in the middle of the countryside of Burgos.
Things went very efficiently though the harsh sunlight really really made lighting our subjects hard especially given the fact that we had no more light stands or studio lights! Nevertheless, things went beautifully and we even managed to get a little bit creative with some smoke grenades I had leftover from my time in Paris !
From there, Cecilio ended the day by bringing us out for some awesome Tapas around the city and a couple small tours around the cute little city of Burgos giving us the chance to shoot some more polaroids!
Finally, after a rested night in Burgos, we headed off towards Barcelona where we had the chance to check out just a little bit of the nightlife in the company of photographer, architect, fan and now friend Pere Cortacans. Although we were graciously offered a place to stay, we decided that sleeping on the beach was much more exciting of a proposal. Although not quite as romantic as one would have imagined with an army of indian people trying to sell us 1 Euro beers and drunk people prowling the beaches all night long… it did allow us to enjoy an absolutely fabulous sunrise.
so that’s it… that’s a wrap. The trip is over but… we have hours and hours of work ahead of us editing, sorting, updating…!!
Thank you guys all, supporters, fans, sponsors for making this trip happen. We’re still sorting through all the receipts, insurance claims, etc… trying to figure out how much we still owe the bank but it’s really really been an amazing couple weeks.
Once again, a shoutout to our official Sponsors: The SLRLounge for helping us make this trip a possibility and Lovinpix.com for sponsoring us so much equipment. Thanks to Mateusz from The Workshop Factory and Olivier from Sylights. Thank you, our fans, family and friends for believing in us.
We’re working as fast as we can and very soon we’ll have photos and videos for you… !!
Hey guys! It’s been a little while since our last update, sorry for the delay! The problem with not having time to blog in between blog posts is that the longer I wait, the more there is to say… and the longer it takes to write them. Consequently, the blog posts that I write stretch over multiple days! Things have been quite hectic and we’ve done so much driving over the last few days that we honestly haven’t managed to find much time to sit down and write! Picking up from where we left off last time following our late night escapade with Andrey Das, we had to get prepped up and ready for the next morning 18/19 to give a free workshop to all those who helped contribute to the project. If you are a contributor and want a copy of the workshop, we’ll send you a copy by email the minute it’s ready!
We made our way to a gymnasium at 8AM to be at Draveuil to give the largest workshop I had ever given – over 10 people participated! People from all corners of Paris showed up even people from Switzerland and Berlin showed up! Thanks to the amazing organization of Nicolas Vallet from Strobi.fr, we were given the privilege to work with some gymnasts from Team France (Equipe de France). The purpose of the workshop was to create some sort of a love triangle with people floating about in surreal positions and thanks to some awesome talent, trials and error by our gymnasts and some gorgeous hair done by the talented Virginie B.G we managed to get some pretty interesting results in the AM. I explained camera settings, lighting setups, workflow, equipment in addition to general management tips on set, posing the models, etc… The result?
In the afternoon, we then split up into some small mini groups and each participant was encouraged to take some time to develop their own concept and photo and interact with the models. During this time, I waltzed around and surveyed the situation and tried my best to offer tips and tricks wherever I could. Régis Matthey took a pretty neat backstage shot on his blog of the action:
The day went by quite smoothly until it was time to leave and one of our dear participants decided to lock his keys inside his trunk! After a good hour of waiting around, we finally got a tow truck in to come and try to open up the car. Although we managed to lower the windows a good foot and a half, the volkswagen he had was completely electronic and wouldn’t respond to anything physical. After another hour of hard work, we had to surrender and he tow truck took the volkswagen to the garage. The only option was to wait a couple days for UPS to deliver a replacement key. Moral of the story? Don’t lock your keys in the trunk of an electronic german car!
The next day, 8:30 AM, we put together a nice little photoshop workshop for our participants to work on the images from the previous day. I started with a quick overview of Lightroom and showcased not only the basic tools but also showcased the nifty Lightroom Preset System by the SLRLounge. I then proceeded to do a quick overview of the basic tools of photoshop – layers, masks, curves as well as various selection methods. I thought that the workshop would be quite boring as I really tried to stick with the basics but after I started talking, I would somehow go on and on with little details and customizations that I had developed throughout the years. The idea was to explain as much technical details as possible rather than actually finalize an image so I don’t really have a final image for you guys but to give you an idea, here’s a draft:
Similar to my workshop on day one, the afternoon was reserved for the various participants to edit their own images (or mine) if they wanted. Somehow, the day flew by lightning fast and by the time we actually wrapped up to leave it was already 7:30 PM.
To read up on how the workshop was from the perspective of Regis Matthey , check out his blog: http://regismatthey.wordpress.com/2012/05/23/paris-ville-des-lumieres-5-jours-dechange-photographique/
We ended the evening with a great supper which involved unlimited drinks and belgium pizzas in the heart of downtown paris with the entire team – a great conclusion to an amazing two days with our Sponsors from Lovinpix.com
The next day, we picked up our entire mobile house of luggage that was scattered around in Byclown Photograph‘s humble studio, ran off to have lunch over at Alexandre Guy’s, a fellow photographer and fan we had never met before,and then headed off to see Virginie B.G ,the hairstylist from our workshop. She bluntly told me two days before that my hair was so terribly hideous that she would not allow me to leave Paris without giving me a nice haircut and some real baguette. Things got mildly out of hand as Virginie went wild but all things considered I did indeed come out of there with a very clean, very nice hair cut.
Following that, we headed over to downtown Paris to perform yet another photoshoot with Pyrotechnician Andrey Das. I felt that in the previous shoot we hadn’t really pushed ourselves to the limit of what could be achieved so we took to the streets with a couple intrepid strobists and friends. Of course, it had to rain but that didn’t detour our determined group from finding the perfect shoot location. It took us a couple hours of trudging in the rain before we finally found the perfect location for our fire shoot… a church situated right next to a fire station. Not one to be easily deterred, we courageously went straight up to the fire station and asked if we could take some photographs in front of the church – they agreed. We carefully omitted the fact that we were going to be spitting massive balls of fire and swinging about ropes of flames… details I was extremely lucky to be given the opportunity to play around with a D800 thanks to fellow fan and photographer Daniel Hurturbise.
Although the last photo I did of DAS turned out to be quite epic, I wasn’t quite satisfied with it and wanted to do something a even more surreal and dramatic… and more technically difficult. Blending fire, multiple exposures and off camera flashes seemed to fit the bill so we went for an epic flaming angel concept. Once again, the challenge was to come up with an awesome shot without photoshop. I was quite frustrated to learn that the best take which you can see in the final image below had an UMBRELLA in the shot. Dangers of shooting wide, and in the rain so I did clean the image in photoshop but the flames are entirely untouched. I’ll be throwing this up on facebook later tonight but for you loyal readers, here’s a peak into the final result.
The shot took about two hour to make which by then brought us to approximately 2 AM and rather than head home, we decided to toy around with the remaining fuel. Everyone took a spit except Erwan who was busy wrapping up the artist interview with Das. Turns out that we really didn’t need to concern ourselves much with the Paris authorities since throughout the night 3 firetrucks and a police car drove by without so much as slowing down. On my end, I went a little crazy spitting fire in the middle of the streets of Paris, photo courtesy of Olivier Marchand who had the privilege to shoot this shot on a Nikon system =P
By the time the interview wrapped up and all of us got a chance to flame up, tidy up and be ready to leave it was already 4 AM… We took a nice group shot to wrap up the evening and headed off to stay over at Daniels for a couple hours…
Three hours later, we were up and packing all over again to catch a ferry from Calais to Dover. The drive went smoothly despite our lack of sleep (actually Erwan did all the driving while I dozed like a baby in the car) and we managed to get to Surrey, UK on time to meet up with Valgas Moore, a friend of Erwan’s (and now mine!) who served as an awesome second video & assistant for the next two days. We settled in at a nice posh indian restaurant and stuffed ourselves as we waited to meet the famous Dave Reynolds & team from the Underwater Realm.
They showed up around 9 PM and we made our way together towards Rich Maskey‘s 800 year old home where we were going to spend the night. Upon arriving, Dave and I sat around the living room table and began casually planning the one shot we were really looking to achieve – an underwater behind the scenes photograph worthy of a two page magazine spread. The sketch?
By the time we were ready for the bed it was well past midnight… with the alarm set for 5 AM. Unfortunately, we could only have the deep diving pool from 7 AM to 4 PM which meant a really really early morning.
One would have thought that with so little sleep the morning would have been tough on us but the prospect of shooting underwater with tens of thousands of gear of fancy equipment with a team of awesome talent got us out of the house lightning fast.
Shooting underwater was an massive challenge for both Erwan and me. Things move a lot slower underwater and things as simple as communication, standing still and composition all get extremely complicated. For example, changing batteries would take over 20-30 minutes to open the case, switch out the cards, re-pressurize, etc… !
That being said, we still managed, despite the challenges to get some amazing shots out of the whole setup. Thanks to a nice big window and some strategic sunlight streaming in we caught some pretty amazing practice stills of the models/actors that came in for the test shoot. For now, the shots will have to remain a bit private as we sort out what can be released and what’s got to be kept!
By the time the whole crew was prepped and ready by the amazing makeup/hair artist Danny Marie Elias we were pretty much setup underwater with some underwater home brewed Kino’s, tripod, underwater 5d MK II and a chain of strobes rigged to fire from camera, to surface, over to a Linkstar 500 Watt strobe I had on the surface of the water.
Rather than do a complex composite that we had originally planned we instead had everyone drop into the water simultaneously and had them perform a predetermined set of actions. After about 6 tries, we got out of there completely thrilled with the results. I was extremely surprised to know that we had actually managed to come up with an amazing image without requiring separate compositing. (shot coming up soon!)
Although I would have liked a good 3-4 more tries to perfect small details, our time was up and we had to call it a day. Exhausted, we wrapped up, went grocery shopping and prepped an amazing bbq at the end of the
The rest of the evening was spent socializing, sharing stories and reviewing images… by which time we crashed to be ready for yet another 5 AM wakeup call.
The next day we decided to take things a little different where priority was given to the actual video shoot. I hid in the background shooting behind the scene video footage while struggling to get my surface strobes to trigger. Despite rigging up a tupperware box with two strobes tied to a string to follow me around underwater with Rich Maskey and Mark Andrew Ruddick, the strobes weren’t reliable enough to be used consistently.
Erwan and I took turns taking shots underwater while Valgas spent the time on the surface capturing some awesome behind the scenes video and stills… we still haven’t had a chance to go through them so that’ll be coming soon!
Alright that’s it for now guys… we’re currently driving from Toulouse to Burgos for the last leg of our trip, update you guys soon with news on our shoot with Natasha Baker and our little escapade in Toulouse…
PS. 2140 words in this blog post!!