Ernie Chang is one of my fans from Taipei, Taiwan. I stumbled upon his work after he sent me a message on my Facebook Fan Page. One of the pieces in particular that he had shot intrigued me and when I inquired about how it was done, I was blown away by its sheer simplicity.
Before reading away, I challenge you to take a guess on how it was done!
Long before I started photography, I was always a big fan of sci-fi and fantasy art. I remember hanging on DeviantArt all day, and never missing an issue of ImagineFX. I was especially fascinated with themes that dealt with paintings or virtual creations coming to life, so naturally came the desire to portray them. Never did it occur to me that I could use photography to tackle this theme because I assumed it would either lead to terrible cosplay, or cheesy photo-manipulation. I tried to learn painting and illustration but I just had no talent for it, eventually I moved on. I went on to study Industrial Design in University, and had photography as a hobby.
When I decided to take photography more seriously about two years ago, I started shooting tons of portraits, products, and fashion, and learned to appreciate the great masters such as Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, and Steven Meisel. It taught me a lot about lighting and fashion photography, but never quite suppressed the desire to create. So I started conceptualizing ideas what would integrate some of my inspirations to create something fresh.
I wanted to portray a virtual 3D body coming to real life under exposure to light. The first image I pictured in my head was a half-virtual, half-real person done in the same shot. It’s an analogy to a child being born. The light represents exposure to the outside world, resulting in the loss of purity and innocence. I planned it so that the viewer only sees the grid of a body in the first shot, which later reveals itself to be an imperfect nude figure.
The flash lighting was simple: one cheap flashgun coming from the right, and behind the subject. Where the light doesn’t reach, I am left with areas of black which I fill with dotted ambient light. The dots are just round label stickers
available at any stationery store which I spray-painted with a coat of glow-in-the-dark blue paint that you can purchase here
. The glowing stickers, aligned rigidly, create a grid-like effect when the lights are turned off, which was what I needed.
and the setup…
Finding a Model
The shoot required a fully nude, skinny, long-haired model. Since I was on a tight budget, I tried to find someone that would be interested in my project to shoot without any compensation. So on my Facebook fan page I half-jokingly posted: “Looking for someone to sacrifice their body for the sake of art,” and didn’t think much of it. But eventually my classmate picked it up and passed it on to her friend who contacted me to talk about it. It turns out that she was a fine arts student photographing a series of her own nude body as a graduation project. When I told her about my idea, she was quite happy to help out. Moral of the story: ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE!
Setting the Camera
Flash/strobe lighting is significantly brighter than the glowing stickers so to compensate for that, I exposed for the lowest flash intensity and dragged the shutter for an eight-second exposure to capture the glowing light. During this time, the model had to be completely still to avoid any motion blur. When I fired a first test shot, I forgot to change the white balance (left at 3000K), and it produced the exact blue tone I was looking for, no gels or post-production required! The whole set is shot using the Fujifilm X-E1
with XF 35mm f1.4
lens. With an ISO set to 400, and an aperture at F5.6, with a shutter speed of 8 seconds, I shot away:
I am quite pleased with how the results came out am now currently looking for more models to take this concept further. If you’re interested in getting involved, do send me a message on my fan page! I’m also quite curious to see what Von Wong’s going to do with my technique, as he’s promised to do something with it!
I think it doesn’t take that much to carry out an idea. Just keep it simple and use your resources effectively. The lack of gear or funding does not suffice as an excuse to be unproductive. With a little knowledge and some planning, it is not so hard create something unique. Just experiment and have fun with it!
Model and I
For those of you who are curious, here are a couple other projects that I’ve been playing with. I’m slowly starting to develop my own methods in finding new ways use them in commercial photography.
Smoking Speakers concept design. For this shot, I used light painting to accentuate the pitch-black product, while having strobes to light the product nicely.
Atrox concept car design. Light painting by Ernie Chang, lensed by Joe Russo.
More of my work can be found at www.lightmare.net and www.facebook.com/lightmare.ec
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:
Today I’d like to present to you guys a very interesting photographer that I met over in Amsterdam. Richard’s the half-black/half Asian Dutch version of myself (yes, I know, quite confusing). He is hyper, is motivated by creation, loves networking and more often than not takes on more projects he can chew. When I asked him how he managed, he told me how he generated more than 24 hours within a day: Delegating. Without further ado, let me introduce to you: Richard Terborg & the art of delegation.
- Von Wong
When Benjamin was in Amsterdam for his workshop, we had a little chat about managing a crew on set. How could I get the same dedication that gets things done on set, doing things that don’t involve shooting? I have been described as “1 man, 7 brains, 2 hands and no time!” As a full-time Conceptual Fashion Photographer, I just love the creative process that comes with every shoot: teaching, helping others, jumping head first into every opportunity, just working hard and having fun with creatives. But doing all of this and putting yourself out there everyday usually comes at the cost of time and sleep (but who really needs that last one anyway)! Before I even realized it, my weekly schedule was: go through the social media channels, look at what other photographers are doing, respond to questions and comments, on to answering emails from other photographers, clients and emailing new clients, scouting for new talent: artists, clothing designers, makeup artists, pretty much any crazy type person! Then you have the editing that needs to get done, new shoots that need to be managed, planning, finding models, location scouting, building sets, buying set supplies, thinking of new concepts. Not done yet! Writing blog posts, working on my coffee table book, uploading new images, doing my administration, planning and organizing workshops for other photographers and myself and, of course, let’s not forget shooting! Sounds insane? It’s easier than you think! I went looking for assistants that would chop off my legs and carry it halfway to help create a few hours to do more things!
The thought of “I can do everything by myself” is something the millenium kids have developed. Instead of finding someone to help with marketing, I first try and learn things myself. Although it’s very fun, it takes time… and that’s time I’m not spending on what really matters or what I need to be doing.
I needed to put the pride and the thought of “well, I’ll just learn that from the internet” aside. I needed to start accepting that there are people out there that know how to do it and can probably do it way faster if I just made a little effort in explaining what I want.
First: Before you can start delegating, you need to find someone to delegate to!
Finding the right person is probably the hardest, but the most important thing. It’s like a person you marry. I started looking for photography/art/design/media schools that were in my city and asked how my company could get on the list of companies that students go through when looking for internships. I quickly found the organization that does this for all the schools in the Netherlands and went through the “checking process”. Before I knew it, I was on the list and was getting letters left and right from students wanting to do their internship with me. So I scheduled some interviews. When you start interviewing, you really have to feel immediately whether or not you will get along with that other person. You will be working together so you need to know if that person is able to handle it. I play open cards from the get go. “This is what i do, this is how I do it. Do you see yourself fit in this? And if so, how?”
Also finding out if the person is able to push back when pushed is important. Working with a lot of creatives means working with a lot of different visions and I personally love it when people speak their mind. Feel something isn’t working? Let us know! “Why do you think that? What would you change?” I’m not looking for someone to sit in a corner and turn a flash power switch on and off. I’m looking for an extra set of eyes, ears and *in zombie voice*: brainzzz! brainzzz! If there’s one piece of advice I can give you: Don’t just run with anyone.
And that is how I found my full-time Assistant/Intern: Juliane Falk. Say hi!
Picture taken by: Jarmal Martis
How do you know what to delegate? Here’s how I did it:
First I started writing down everything I did. Every little thing I could think of for a week as I was doing them or thinking about them. Evernote was my friend! From here, I was able to create two different lists.
The first of all the things I knew my intern was able to do, without too much intervention like: scouting locations, scouting models, pre-selections, mood boards, sketches, getting gear, calling locations, assisting on shoots etc.
The second, of things that just needed to get done that the intern wouldn’t be able to handle such as…finding new clients, art galleries, selling the work, creating invoices, sending out payment reminders, blog text reviewing, etc. Put this list aside.
I took the first list and used it to make daily tasks and broke them down in to-do’s, which I go over with my intern. “How do we go over these daily tasks?” you might ask. What’s the point of living in the future if you’re not using the technology? Intern stays at home, I stay at home and we go through my to-do list and I delegate whatever tasks I can through Skype. Then I give it a deadline. Sometimes giving it insane deadlines that are very tight; only because I have to work with the same as well and it’s good to throw them in the deep to see how they react. ew
This is just to get you started, after a few months I no longer creating the list of things “I still need” or “want to do”. I send them straight to my intern and she just sends me an email or gives a shout with the day and time she put into it and when she will be sending updates about it. It makes all the difference timewise.
Meeting your delegatee halfway when they miss a deadline is the only way to go. Offer a hand if a task is too rigorous or if circumstances make it hard for them to complete it on time.
Third: Rules and Restrictions
This should be clear from the first interview. What is that person allowed to do, and to what end. Keep in mind that they do represent your brand. Taking behind the scenes pictures or video is great! Posting the results online before the client gets the chance to post their own campaign? Not so much! So stating how you work and by what rules you need to work is good to go over with your delegatee. It’s also good practice to share this information before a shoot so that they can learn about every client and their needs. However, you are dealing with a human so do not treat them like a robot. Give them the freedom to do it in their own way, as long as it gets done and done on time.
Fourth: Different People, Different Tasks!
Remember the second list we had? Think that list was going to be the list of things for me to do? Wrong!
Going by the same principle of finding an intern, I was soon looking for someone to keep track of invoices, orders and especially taxes! Always giving myself the excuses “this would be way too expensive!” and “I can do those taxes myself!” I finally sat down and called in reinforcements. Telling them my story, where I’m at and how they could help me. I got so many cool responses from great people that were there to show me the way and before you knew it, I had a bookkeeper!
Soon after came help for finding new clients and help with all around communication and marketing in the form of an agent! I am now represented by the agency Draumlist.
From this came tasks I could delegate closer to home. My wife, Karin van de Kuilen, has been a drawer and painter forever! Why couldn’t she paint me a cool new set? So I started adding her in the mix and before you knew it she was helping out sketching shoots, set building, painting props, building props etc.
My sister, Thelea Terborg, awesome blogger! Crazy with words! And now even a wizz in marketing! She goes over all the text I write, making sure everything looks nice and pretty and gets new blog topics ready that I sometimes forget to write down. I couldn’t ask all of this from 1 person and doing it all by myself was not going to work for long.
Different people love doing different things. Find out what other people love to do, and see if you can help out each other doing what you love.
If you want to follow me, the crazy people that like working with me or if you have any questions or just want to say hi. follow my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RichardTerborg.Photos
It’s been 52 days of constant travelling since I last set foot in my bedroom. It’s been exhilarating, exhausting and frankly… I’ve done so much I almost feel like no time has passed at all. So what do I do the minute I set foot back home? Dive headfirst into the pile of work awaiting me.
For those of you who remember, 2 months back I put together a massive Game of Thrones fan based photo & video shoot in collaboration with Dracolite, Les Ateliers Nemesis and Duché de Bicolline that involved shooting in knee to waist deep snow, at a medieval village with 13 different zombies, 2 horses (one of which was a zombie horse), custom armour and even 2 children and a decapitated head.
Well while I was travelling, Ben McKinnon from Five Knights Productions had been hard at work getting everything ready for my return… and he doesn’t disappoint. I wish I could show you guys more but for now, enjoy this 30 second teaser with custom scoring by Kamel Bushnaq to have a tiny idea of what’s to come…
That’s how many days it’s been since I last set foot in my bedroom and I’ve gotta say… it feels great to be back home. Though I’m only here for three days before I head off to give a conference up in Vermont, just having a nice home cooked meal by Mum was refreshing more than words can describe.
To recap, in 52 days, the itinerary looked something like this:
Montreal –> Las Vegas –> London –> Manchester –> Bethnam –> Paris –> Belgium –> Paris –> Munich –> Traunstein –> Munich –> London –> Vancouver –> Kelowna –> Revelstokes –> Kelowna –> Vancouver –> Detroit –> Montreal
Perhaps that’s why that on my last day before heading back from Detroit I had a mild meltdown in the shower where I just sat down and couldn’t quite move. It’s funny how you don’t quite realize how much stress and pressure you put on yourself until it’s gone. So there I found myself, sitting on the floor of the shower with my entire body tingling at the odd realization that I had “survived” two months of back to back projects.
Just the day before, I had managed in less than 24 hours to put together a photoshoot in collaboration with Jamie Sturgill, a stylist that sent me a random friend request earlier that day.
If I was so tired, why shoot instead of resting?
In part, because I had promised my conference attendees from Photo Studio Group,that I was going to try my best to put together a last minute shoot before leaving.
Also because I believe in making every minute count while traveling.
But most importantly… because I had people looking up to me… waiting, believing that things were going to fall into place.
Despite the fact that we had only 24 hours to pull things together, Jaime managed to whip up 3 looks within hours based off a moodboard I tossed together for her, found AND convinced model Cheyenne Scott to come over to her place at midnight to design and fit clothes until 4:30 AM and even come on time to the studio of one of my conference participants Lesa the next afternoon for the shoot.
Despite the fact that I only confirmed the time and location at a mere 8 hours before shoot time, I had 10 people show up to drive in, bring their equipment and assist… as well as and wedding videographer Matthew Donahue and drive in, bring their equipment to make this shoot possible.
Despite the fact that the original location completely fell through just hours before the shoot, we managed to find three different amazing setups.Despite all of this… everything still came together. Because a group of very dedicated people believed that it could be done.
This trip to me has been very enriching in many ways…the need to transform my thoughts into words has allowed me to learn a lot about myself – not only from a technical perspective (as I need to deconstruct step by step what happens in my mind – how I light, how I compose, how I edit), but also from a philosophical one (my motivations, my desires, my inspiration… what makes me tick).
And throughout these workshops, these conferences about inspiration that I gave… I came to the realization that it wasn’t what I did that people got hooked on but why and how I do it. Sure, I take pretty pictures… and that’s fun, flashy and epic. But loads of people take pretty pictures out there, and many of them do it better then me yet they don’t necessarily have the following that I do. So why is it that people follow?
Curious at the answer, I figured I’d ask… and got a plethora of answers but it was this one in particular that completely floored me:
Though I have always considered myself a good person with the best of intentions, I do not think someone’s ever come up to me and told me that I changed their life for the better… that I truly made a difference. (Be sure to check out Tyler’s work over here)
How is it that I can make such a great impact by simply pursuing my passion with reckless abandon?
I don’t know what the answer is yet… but definitely something that I’ll be percolating on for the next little while. That being said, if you have not made an impact on someone yet… I wish it upon you to be able to experience it one day. There are no words to really express what it’s like to realize that you have the power to change lives… its empowering, terrifying, inspiring, nerve-wracking and encouraging… all at once.
Maybe the key is to simply believe in something. Or to be passionate. Or to have the ability to share, or perhaps the will to make a difference.
Whatever the answer is, there’s been enough thinking for one night ^^
I hope you enjoyed the trailer… and if it tickles you like it does me, don’t forget to share it
Way back in October, I had the opportunity to work with Flipside Studios and the crew of TvB (Traceur vs Bboys) and do a dynamic series of images in Graffiti Alley, Toronto. The concept was to figure out an interesting way to showcase the dynamic and talented crew of both groups of individuals.
Graffiti Alley is a public alleyway filled with graffiti in the heart of Toronto – this meant that having on location power was going to be somewhat of an issue and generators were not an option. Since I didn’t have my normal kit of White Lightnings + Vagabonds with me for the shoot, I approached Vistek.ca and asked them if they would be so kind to lend me some battery-equipped flashes to play with. They kindly agreed and I ended up strutting around the alleyways of Toronto with 2x Elinchrom Ranger RXs and 2x Ranger Quadras and a host of Rotalux lightmods.
Since the goal was to create shots that were dynamic with a large group of people in challenging positions, the safest way to approach the shoot was to shoot for the purpose of compositing. This would ensure that if ever I couldn’t manage to get everyone in the right position at the right time I could simply mask them right back into the images.
Communication at this stage is vital to not only understand what poses each participant is capable of doing, holding and repeating… but figuring out how they can all work together and fit into the composition.
More tips on communication and working with large groups of dancers in my previous blog post: http://www.vonwong.com/blog/how-to-bring-to-life-a-promotional-dance-campaign/
So what do I mean by “composition”?
Well you’ll notice that to begin with, the lines of the buildings serve to accentuate the composition of the piece by drawing the attention of the viewer into the centre of the image. The edges of the buildings create “triangles” that point into the image.
Similarly, the lines created by the bodies of the characters in the image all relate to one another forming a compositional triangle that makes up the core of the image.
I’ve never officially studied photography, but I’ve discovered with time and a bit of experience that looking out for triangles & lines in an image has a massive effect on the image. Somehow, unconsciously the mind will recognize the shapes in the image and decide whether or not the image is interesting. A small tip if you’re trying to find these lines, is to imagine an “arrow” somehow pointing inwards towards the image.
Let us check out the second image of the series:
We created this humorous shot by inviting a passing tourist to come and participate in our photograph. Why? Because without him the entire image would make a lot less sense from both a storytelling and a compositional standpoint.
Way back in 2009, I was introduced to the Golden Spiral by photographer Jake Garn. At the time it blew my mind and since then I’ve always tried to apply this rule when taking my photographs. Curious to see how your images work with the golden ratio?
Head over to Adobe Lightroom – Launch the crop tool and press “o” (that’s the letter O not the number 0) until it cycles to the golden spiral. Wonder how to invert or move the spiral around? Shift + O is the magic button!
And for the 3rd and final image in the series we have a series of airborne and landborne characters. All airborne characters in this image were all composited back into the image which meant that there was a lot of flexibility when putting the final image together.
So how does one decide where to place characters when you have the freedom of putting anybody anywhere?
Well in this case it would be to blend both the compositional triangles as well as the golden spiral. In this instance, my Golden Spiral served as a reference for the extremities of the characters while the triangles created in the image served as reference guides.
Additionally, the lines created by the buildings due to perspective also help create and generate focus… in this instance it acts almost as a massive arrow pointing towards the foreground elements of the image.
I think most people are quite skeptical on how it’s possible to see all the varieties of shapes and lines while composing and creating an image. I know because I was certainly one of them! What you do notice with time though, is that if you do keep these rules in mind (just like the rules of third), you eventually do start seeing them without actually consciously looking for them. If these rules intrigue you I’d recommend you check out this awesome article here on Petapixel… and if that’s still not enough for you, head over to Amazon and grab this awesome book The Photographer’s Eye which breaks down all the rules of composition with pretty lines and examples.
- Client: Flipside Studios, TvB
- Assistants : Julius Adarna, Basia Kowalska, Holly Thomas, Samantha Banks
- Video: Joel Kesler, Deidre Casey
- Sirui Tripod T2205X sponsored by LOVINPIX
- Nikon D800E: B&H | Amazon
- Nikkor 14-24 f2.8: B&H
- Nikkor 24-70 f2.8: B&H
- ThinkTank Airport International V2.0 (best bag ever) B&H
Lighting Gear sponsored by VISTEK:
- Full day conference coming up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with Photo Studio Group
- Photoshoot Sunday the 28th in Detroit in collaboration with Rob Woodcox to promote “Stories worth Telling”. Want to tag along? Leave a comment!
Friend and fellow blogger Jen Brook told me earlier today that I should really spend some time to write more about the life behind the scenes of the crazy insane character known as “Von Wong”. After much deliberation, I figured that sharing a little more about the person behind the character could be interesting to remind everyone out there that I am… still human and that there are very real ups, downs and struggles associated with the glamorous life I have chosen to live. I am not certain what will come up of this, but now… on my 11 hour flight between London and Vancouver, it seems like a pretty good idea to spend a bit of time in introspection so here goes.
Catching a moment of rest at the end of my mass photoshoot with 450 people in Traunstein Germany in collaboration with KameraKind.
I left Montreal on the 11th of March, 2013. So far (today being the 16th of April) I’ve visited 5 countries, 8 cities (Vegas,London, Manchester, Paris, Namur, Munich and Traunstein) slept in 4 hotels, 1 train, 1 bar, 3 houses, an airport as well as a cute little bed & breakfast. In that time I’ve had 12 photoshoots, 2 of which were commercial and one of which was a workshop with Train to Create. I’ve given two conferences, attended a trade show, an awards ceremony in London and done 4 interviews that are floating around on the interwebs. I’ve also managed to find time to write and upload four BTS videos and blog posts as well as a single guest post with another one lined up for tomorrow.
Yesterday, I went from Traunstein to Munich by car to take a plane from Munich to London, to take a 2 hour nap in London before an interview at 4:30 AM by WEX TV in my “natural habitat – the airport”, to catch a plane to Vancouver to give a conference at Canadian Imaging tomorrow in front of god knows how many people to then give a workshop in a Ghost Town close to Kelowna, BC over the weekend with another conference on Monday in Vancouver… and finally a last one coming up in Detroit on the 27th.
Throughout this journey, I’ve had the opportunity to hang out and meet internet celebrities like Peter Hurley, Kirsty Mitchell, Zemotion, the Fstoppers crews, Aaron Nace @ Phlearn, Renee Robyn, Brooke Shaden, Joel Robison, Rob Woodcox… and even had the chance to chill with the amazing team from Nikon Canada, and put faces onto companies that have supported me in one way or another like Vistek, SmugMug, Adobe, Lowepro, Undfind, SLRLounge, TetherTools, Triple Scoop Music, Think Tank, Lensbaby, and more.
Goofing off on a wraparound suite at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas with Kirsty Mitchell and Renee Robyn
And being a general goofball after Kirsty left her toothbrush in the hotel room…No, it’s not really for sale in case you were wondering!
So what’s it like?
Well, in a word : Exhausting. Looking back, I can hardly believe how much I’ve gone through and its hard to believe that only a month has passed. At the same time, it’s extremely gratifying knowing that I’ve really lived this last month to it’s fullest.
Why do I do I work at such a hectic pace? Why not slow it down?
What I love about travelling is that you will ALWAYS make the most use of your time. Even those couple hours of sleep become priceless because you know you’ll be moving on soon to the next place.
When I landed in London, I hadn’t yet bought any tickets to France, Belgium or Germany because I didn’t know what my schedule was going to be like… so when Barry Van Elder spontaneously offered to organize a shoot in Manchester that would involve 3 million dollars of sports cars, an old manor and pyro I found time to go up and shoot, making great friends in the process and visiting a new city.
- yes yes, I promise there will be a BTS video…
When I landed a couple days later in Paris, France, my pyrotechnician DAS had lined up 3-4 different photoshoots involving a TV station, The louvre as well as a Tesla Coil.
From there it was off to Belgium to play with fire and a Abbey in ruins …
Group shot of the entire crew in Belgium (fans and friends and more)… produced by Monolithe Photographe</p>
back to Paris to pick up a cape designed for me by Virginie Marcerou…
To then hope into an 11 hour train ride to Traunstein Germany to help set up the 450 mass “where is waldo” photoshoot.
That’s right. We got Batman and Robin in on the action.
That’s insane. How do you do it?
You just do. I find that if you think too much about how incredulous and impossible it all sounds you simply miss out and give up. While I was on my way from Paris to Munich I found myself sitting on the floor between two train cars next to the toilets with my laptop plugged in and my butt propped on the cold metal floor so that I could prep last weeks blog post.
Some of you may recall a blog post I wrote earlier this year titled”Thinking of quitting your job, think again ” and I suppose that you could quite simply say that I’m in the “EVERYTHING IS AWESOME” stage of things. I have no doubts that returning back to reality in 3 weeks (though to be honest, I’m not even sure what that reality is) I’ll suffer from productivity withdrawal.
It’s kinda funny but I’m kinda looking forward to those little moments of emotional depression so that my body can rest, recover and prepare for the next big thing (hopefully the release of my Game of Thrones project).
I think that with the ups come the inevitable downs but it’s a price that I’m willing to pay. Too often, I get emails from fans and friends telling me how jealous they are of what I’m doing… but these things only happen because I work extremely hard to get there. I’m a believer of hard work… not talent, and I think that if you want something bad enough, you’ll make it.
I don’t watch TV when I’m in the plane – I catch up on sleep, spend time preparing for my upcoming conference, writing a blog and editing photos. I wake up in a new place every 3 days, make friends that I never know when I’ll see again, and expect to be depressed when the adventure slows down. My body is taking a beating and the concept of jetlag doesn’t even exist to me anymore. I answer every single fan mail I receive personally and I do what I do because I feel like I’m making a difference. I’d like to be famous before 30, but as fame happens to be quite a vague word, the tangible goal is to make a meaningful and viral-worthy TED talks.
I don’t know if I’ll make it, but I’m certainly working to get to it. Even if the end goal changes, the journey is the reward and there is nothing more gratifying than working towards something you believe in.
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of shooting and teaching in a ridiculously ancient building in the middle of East London – The George Tavern organized by my awesome friends over at Train To Create.
Though it cost us an arm and a leg to rent out, I absolutely wanted to be able to teach my workshop in a unique and rich environment. This would not only make my job easier teaching (teehee) but would also allow the workshop attendees to have an amazing experience shooting in a location with designers and a beauty team they would normally not have access to. (That is: 3 makeup artists, 3 hair stylists, 3 designers and 10 models !!)
On top of the amazing team available to us, we had over 10,000 pounds worth of Elinchrom gear sponsored by The Flash Center which gave everyone the opportunity to have some professional gear to play with.
For those of you who are curious to get a feel of what the workshop was like, check out this awesome BTS video that Train to Create threw together:
And the images themselves:
ft. Designs by Dead Lotus Couture,[Model: Hiro Hirata, MUA: Ashley Mclaughlin]Model: Jen Brook, Hair: Donna Graham, MUA: Sonia Allen], Model: Gemma Huh ,Hair: Donna Graham, MUA:Ashley Mclaughlin], Jeremy Colvard, Jaime Rodney, Apollo
And the concept sketches to accompany it.
On a personal note:
Teaching and managing such a large group of people was a challenging but extremely gratifying experience. It was amazing to see so many people from so many different backgrounds come together and collaborate so beautifully together. Though I have a lot of experience managing large shoots, it was the first time that I had tried to manage three photoshoots simultaneously while figuring out how to teach and mentor along the way. Despite the freezing weather, I was pleasantly surprised to see everyone enthusiastically tackle and overcome the challenges.
Though I was confident the teaching/shoot-yourself formula was going to be successful, there was no way to know if it would work until the end of the workshop.
I want to thank all the sponsors for their support of this project: Nik Software, LowePro, UEL Alumni Network , X-Rite Photo, theprintspace, The Flash centre, The Second Door and Train to Create for making this entire workshop possible.
I had the chance to go and check out the facilities of The Print Space who were gracious enough to make a couple prints from the workshop for me to see. As a more social-media oriented photographer, I’m not so much of a print dude so being able to choose a variety of different papers and seeing how they affected my image was a very exciting experience for me.
For example, I discovered that Hahnemuhle German Etching looked absolutely mindblowing in the image of Jen Brook looking up towards the light (first photo posted) … but that the Kodak Metallic gave an amazing shine to Nange & Taras designs. I also discovered the joy of seeing my photograph appear on a 1.5 meter long image. Too bad it wouldn’t fit on the plane with me
Anyways, enough about me. Take the time to check out the work of the workshop attendees
Photo by Girts Rutkovski
Photo by Conrad Webb
Photo by Martin Ograbek
Photo by Adam Haywood
Photo by Richard Powazynski
Photo by Sven Uckermann
Today, I would like to introduce you guys to a friend and fellow photographer of mine. She’s one of those crazy creative souls that has actually figured out how to blend sci-fi, science and photography into an abstract art form! When I stumbled across her 2 years ago, she was a painter but after a couple years of hard work, passion and experimentation she’s come out with a body of work I have never quite seen before. I think you’ll enjoy it (and be sure to scroll to the bottom!). Presenting to you: Anick Morel
It all began two years ago when I came across an article about a burning light bulb that reignited my creativity.
I’ve always liked photography but never had the time to explore that medium seriously until recently.
My first experiments with burning light bulbs were quite rough. At first, I would miss the critical moment when the “explosion” was as its best. But after dozen of attempts, I started to get the hang of things. The light bulb burns for about 3 seconds so you have plenty of time to get the perfect shot.
I love science. I love physic and chemistry phenomena. I love light bulbs. The beauty, intricacy and delicacy of the smoke coming from the burning tungsten wire is what attracts me most. I love the fact that light bulbs are easily obtained and that you can do a lot with them (photography speaking) So far, I haven’t run out of experiments I can do with a burning light bulb: you can photograph them with the glass partially broken or with no glass at all, can put different chemicals on it (like fireworks powders), turn the bulb upside down, put glass above it, etc.
All my images are shot in camera. Since the smoke is white, I use Lightroom to bring colours to the image. And then use Photoshop to erase imperfections and bring out the details. Sometimes, like with chemicals, you won’t need to add colours in post production. These days, I treat my images so they have a painterly feel to them. It adds a new dimension.
From there, I started scouring the web for new and exciting things to photograph. One of the things I stumbled upon was cream. Cream is like liquid smoke. I enjoy the cream technique because just like the light bulb, it creates beautiful ethereal shapes going from translucent to opaque.
When you pour it into water, it just slowly descent and makes little medusa shapes. Very inspiring. What’s more, you can colour cream with food colouring and/or choose the density of the cream (10%, 15% or 35%).
Timing is not a factor when you photograph cream but the container is. You need a flat surface (like an aquarium) if you don’t want your image to be distorted and be out of focus. Oddly enough, the biggest challenge is the speed of pouring the cream into the water. Much like the light bulb, you need to practice a little to get it right. But when you master the pouring, the rest comes easy.
One more effect I’ve discovered along the way is the magic of the soap bubble. I really love this technique even if it gives limited results. Photographing bubbles can be a little tricky; Their lifespan is not very long, the wall of the bubble is always in motion and you need a good light source placed at a strategic place to see the the colours.
What fascinates me is the colours that dance on the surface of the bubble. It comes from the light being reflected from both the inner and outer surface of the wall of the soap bubble. Soap molecules have one end that repels water, and another that attracts it, and these molecules move to the inner and outer surfaces, thrusting their water-repelling ends out into the air, and their “heads” inwards.
A good macro lens is a must since the area of the bubble you want to capture is very small. And if your camera has a lot of MP, you will be able to blow up the image without loosing definition. If you want to extend the life span of your bubble, add some glycerin.
As you might have noticed, all my abstracts involved a little bit of science. It’s because, and I’ll proudly admit it, I’m a geek. I’m into RPGs and LARPing. I Love fantasy, science-fiction and horror novels. I was an avid comic book reader in my teen years. And because I am a geek, I started a brand new series involving super heroes logos.
This series combines my love for comic books, science-fiction and abstract. I admit it, I got jealous of all those talented photographers that could create all the wonderful images with heroes and villains, knights and goblins and felt like I had to contribute to the geek world…And so I have in my own way. This series is called: Heroes, Legends and Icons. It’s a small tribute, but I’m only beginning. Heroes of this world take heed, I’m coming after you. Or your logos anyway
Like my previous abstracts, all is done in camera. But unlike the rest, this series is much more figurative. You can clearly see the logo in there. How it’s done is very simple: I take a light bulb with the glass removed and place over it a sheet of glass on top of which I place the logo that has been printed on transparent film. I then shoot from the top.
Post-production is the same process as my other light bulb images. LightRoom and Photoshop. Because of the of the film over the glass, I don’t need to add much colouring to the image.
I will leave you on this little note: If you have a passion or even something you like to do, don’t be afraid to invest a little time (or a lot), energy and a little money into that thing. You don’t know where it can lead you. Or what amazing things you can discover and achieve.
If you like her work, be sure to check out her fan page !
Earlier this year I was asked by dance company Art-Terre if I would be interested in shooting some promo material for one of their upcoming shows: Temnein. Coincidentally, Chance from FullyM.com was in town and wanted to feature me at work. Since I’ve had numerous requests to give a little more insight on how I shoot my dance-related photography, I blended the two events together to bring to you guys this educational video.
Hope you enjoy the results:
Developing the concept
Katherine first contacted me while she was touring in Haiti. She was coming back in a couple weeks and knew that she needed to come up with some promo shots for her upcoming show that was going to happen on the 12th of April. As I had never seen the show, I asked her to send me whatever material she had available – photographs, drafts, sketches, video clips… anything that would help give me an idea of what she was looking for.
I met up with her art director and choreographer Saxon Fraser to determine what the exact look and feel of the images was meant to be and we settled on creating large elaborate storytelling pieces that would accentuate the interactions between the dancers.
We targeted key moments in the piece that would be iconic and representative of the entire piece and made sure to create images that would fit both a horizontal facebook cover-photo layout as well as a vertical poster-layout.
Since this was to be a dance show, we had to make sure that the lighting in the images would stay faithful to the show so we decided to use the Gesu Theatre with a similar lighting configuration that was going to be used during the show itself.
Lighting the set:
Although the easiest solution would have been to simply use the stage lighting and nothing more to light these shots up, I didn’t want them to look just like event shots. I wanted them to have that 3-dimensional studio-flare that you get from having your subjects perfectly lit.
To achieve that, I brought in my Paul C Buff lighting kit in to play with the dancers and used them to highlight the subjects while I let the stage lights take care of the background atmosphere.
The first step to setting up the “ambient” background light was to familiarize myself with the lighting configurations that were available. For those of you who have never played with stage lights, they can be easily configured and organized by the lighting tech on set. Communication with the lighting tech on the spot is critical to have full control of the effects, colours and textures of light that are available to you. In my case, I had him flick the effects on and off one by one as I looked to the stage trying to imagine the variety of poses that we would be creating. Once the lights are configured, it’s relatively annoying to have to bring the entire grid of lights down, reconfigure and send them back up again so pre-visualization is quite important.
From there on, the studio strobes were brought in to help accentuate the poses of the models. The advantage of studio strobes over the stage lighting is it’s ability to focus in and highlight certain key elements as they’re far easy to move around than their stage lighting equivalents. For example, stage lights are most often located on either the ceiling level or the floor level whereas proper side lighting is a lot more uncommon. And even when it does exist, it is hardly ever a setup that can be properly gridded.
Of course, blending studio strobes to ambient light meant that I had to do a little bit of mental juggling between getting the lowest possible ISO (800), an acceptable depth of field (~f4.5) with a relatively safe shutter speed (~1/30th) and add onto the flash into the mix at the proper settings.
Though it sounds complicated when thrown out there mathematically like this, if you’ve ever tried to blend ambient and strobe light outdoors, there’s not much different – except in this case you’re certain the ambient won’t change on you!
Lighting Diagram designed by Chance from Fullym.com
Transforming concept into reality:
Like most images that you so often see so clearly in your mind, when it comes to actually making it happen in reality there’s always a slight jerk back to reality.
When trying to design complex poses such as the ones that we had going, thing were even harder to calibrate. Not only did we need to come up with intricate poses, it also involved having dancers tied up and climbing over one another!
This is where a nice balance is needed between what you need (rule of thirds, lighting, golden spiral, triangles, emotion, lines and shadows), what’s physically possible (no, she can’t balance on her left leg while wrapping her right around her neck), and what makes sense to the piece.
This is where communication comes in extremely handy and it becomes particularly valuable to share your insights and opinions with the other members of the team (client, art director, dancers) to get the best results. Dancers especially are extremely conscious of their body positioning and can help you come up with the proper pose if you explain the rules of composition that are needed. Sharing your work with the art director as you move along also helps to ensure that your vision of the piece isn’t getting too far away from what the final result they were looking for was going to be.
As I mentioned in the video, don’t forget that the subjects you’re posing on stage are actually human beings so remember to not tire them needlessly. Giving them the cue to relax is very appreciated and will make a difference in your final image. And though I am extremely guilty of saying “One more… ok just one more… annnnd one last one… andddd a final one… annnnd… “ I never leave my models hanging in precarious and uncomfortable positions while I chimp away at the screen.
There are no rules when it comes to creating great images… but keeping the basic things in mind such as communication, story and composition make a world of difference. Technicalities such as “which fstop did you use, with which lens, with what lighting” is nothing without the vision behind.
If you guys ever want to experiment with dance photography (or anything involving a human subject really!), I invite you to work on simply talking with your models and getting them to be a participant in your shoots rather than just exploiting them as simple subjects.
Check out FullyM’s own POV story here: http://fullym.com/video-fullym-meets-benjamin-von-wong-how-to-shoot-intricate-multiple-models-bts/
- Client: Art-Terre
- Poster Design: Emiliano Jabiu
- Assistants : Sarah Ismert, Renaud Lafrenière, Jessika Chiasson, Emiliano Jabiu
- Video: Chance Nguyen from FullyM.com
- ThinkTank Airport International V2.0 (best bag ever) B&H
- Paul C Buff
- This blog post was written on an 11 hour train ride between Paris and Traunstein… involving me sitting on a cold metal floor between two train cars with the laptop plugged into a toilet’s power socket.
- I’m currently in Traunstein, Germany participating in a 350+ participant mass shoot. Want to participate?
- Interested in writing a guest post for this blog? Send me an email or leave a comment!
- I’ll be speaking in Vancouver at Canadian Imaging on April 17th.
- 2 day workshop in a ghost town in Kelowna, BC! Only 1 spot remaining!
- 2 day workshop in Detroit Michigan, with Photo Studio Group
Last November, while touring through Rennes, France and giving workshops, I was invited by Photographer Gildas Raffenel to one of the largest studios in Rennes: Place Cliche The concept? To get together and do some creative shooting for Girlys Magazine. They had recently seen my earlier flour dancer video and were inspired to try something similar using color pigments and brought their entire studio and styling team to make this shoot happen.
The shoot took place on a lovely monday Afternoon. When I arrived into the Place Cliche studio, the crew had already begun to slowly sarran-wrap the entire studio up to protect it as best as they could to protect the inevitable mess that was going to happen.
Gildas and I then played a quick little game of “Rock, Paper Scissors” to decide which photographer would shoot first while the other assisted – Gildas won.
Since we were going to be tossing pigments all around the place and only had three light sources, the lighting throughout the photoshoot didn’t vary very much. Flying pigments, similar to water, looks best with very nice edge lighting… so the three point lighting setup looked pretty much like this with occasional variations in angle and modifier.
Since I started photography less than 5 years ago, I had never had the chance to use a Hasselblad H4D and was quite curious to give it a spin. In my mind, the term “Hasselblad” has always been this mystical, magical and unattainable camera system that was only for the best of the best… and I was quite curious to see if the camera would really make that big of a difference.
Oddly enough, the most satisfying thing about shooting with a Hasselblad for me was not the file resolution which I found quite comparable to that of the D800E… but the beautiful sound that the shutter makes as it clicks shut.
Shooting with the Hasselblad for me was a generally frustrating experience as it was just a lot slower and more bulky to use then what I was used to and I finally went back to my trusty ol’ D800E for the rest of the shoot. Perhaps I just need more time with the camera
Beyond the technical, shooting with pigments was great fun! Depending on the timing of the shot, you could either get a smokey texture… or a more “pigmented’ one. Impacts seemed to provide the most exciting variety of textures. After a bit of experimenting, the idea of developing a shot featuring our gorgeous model disintegrate or emerge from a puff of smoke came through.
Unfortunately, time flew by super fast and before I knew it, we had run out of color pigments and time. As a thank you to the kind folks over at Place Cliche for being so hospitable, I finished my session with the model and styling team by creating one final shot… featuring the flag of France !
For anybody looking to try out this shoot at home, I highly recommend you find somewhere you don’t need to clean up. Not only did everyone at the shoot get out of there completely colourful… but the studio ended up with a massive mountain of colors. To make matters worst, colour pigments turn into paint when they get in contact with water… making them even harder to clean up !!
Be sure to check out some of Gildas’s shots from the same shoot here!
Hope you enjoyed this weeks video, please leave me any feedback questions and/or comments!
Model : Fanny Sany
Stylist : Emilie Berger
Make up : Fanny Ffd
Retouche : Pratik Naik from Solstice Retouch, Jessika Chiasson, Von Wong
Assistants : Klebi Golo & Marine Leroy
Produced by: Place Cliche
- Sirui Tripod T2205X sponsored by LOVINPIX
- Nikon D800E: B&H | Amazon
- Nikkor 24-70 f2.8: B&H
- Nikkor 70-200 f2.8: B&H
- Hasselblad H4D: B&H
- ThinkTank Airport International V2.0 (best bag ever) B&H
- Profoto Pro 7B B&H
- I’m currently in Paris, France. Want to hang out? Leave a comment!
- Interested in writing a guest post for this blog? Send me an email or leave a comment!
- Come participate in my latest greatest project in Traunstein Germany!
- I’ll be speaking in Vancouver at Canadian Imaging on April 17th.
- 2 day workshop in a ghost town in Kelowna, BC! Only 2 spots remaining!
- 2 day workshop in Detroit Michigan, with Photo Studio Group