All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘photography’
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
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- 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?
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In November of last year on my last Europe tour, master pyrotechnician Andrey DAS and I got together in collaboration with award winning designer Virginie Marcerou to experiment and create some exciting and technically challenge images by combining a variety of pyrotechnics – from smoke, to sparklers, to firebreathing. Since I had just gotten back from speaking for Lovinpix at the Salon de la Photo and had met a bunch of people throughout the event, we decided to make it an open event and let people come watch us at work. The result was approximately 60 people showing up throughout the night, including a surprise visit from Udi from DIYPhotography!
Where it all began:
The concept began when DAS and I went out and about to look for the most epic and outrageous way to combine fashion and pyro. DAS came up with the idea of creating an angel in a ring of fire, and I connected him to Virginie. The result of a little brainstorming was this absolutely nutty concept.
As with most concepetual pyrotechnical ideas, the first step was to figure out what was realistically achievable and what was wishful thinking. We finally settled on seperating the image into a couple distinct parts. The bottom of the image would be created using the fire curtain, the ring would be created through a long exposure, and rather than build a seperate contraption to spread sparks around 8 feet in the air we settled for a column of flame from a fire breather. The entire scene would be lit from above using speedlights and an umbrella which I knew I would have with me. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the epic arch-angel wings we were hoping for so we had to settle for the baby angel wings. From there, the entire final image was going to be combined in camera using multiple exposures.
On shoot day, things turned out to be just as fun with a huge number of people that showed up to watch, help and contribute. Thanks to them, we were able to tie indivudal strands of the dress to pieces of string and have them wave it around as two people behind them spun fire, sparks and spat fire while in the foreground… assistants from DAS played with long ropes of flame.
The result? The beginning of an extremely exciting evening.
Since our first meeting in France, DAS and I have been trying to push the boundaries of what people had seen before. Mickael de Sinno, who was one of our models in a previous photoshoot 6 months back had decided to come back and play with us. He had been looking for imagery that would be capable of showing off his ridiculously cut body so we took him up on the offer and proceeded to stick him on a brick and spit fire on him…. and between his legs. DAS and his assistant Jerem Coté had a brilliant time spitting fire all over our brave model and the meticulously designed cape by Virginie Marcerou. Though it took a bunch of tries before we actually got things right… the final results were nothing short of amazing (IMHO!) Though the idea of simply having a fireball behind a subject is relatively simple, turns out that getting it perfect centered… x2 is actually quite hard!
Since we were messing around with consumable effects, each time we started a burn I had to be ready to constantly change up my camera settings to be able to compensate for the lighting conditions. Varying the shutter speed apeture and ISO combination would make the same effect look drastically different each time… add on the elements (wind) and the pyrotechnician himself (swinging faster, slower etc…) it was quite a feat to be able to find the perfect result and reproduceand retweak it. If you’ve never shot fire before… be sure to check out my 7 tips that will help you paint with fire before attempting anything on your own!
Checkout the outakes – longer/shorter shutter speeds and a variety of aperture values, as well as a combination of effect/lighting placement! Small changes making a huge difference!
Though it may look like nothing, getting that flash boomed from above and behind the model was an extremely challenging experience. It doesn’t show but directly behind the models was a pool of water. We had to sink a couple bricks behind the subjects and have one awesome assistant (Benjamin Lecomte FTW! precariously balanced behind two shivering models and two huge pools of water.) I took the shot from the complete opposite end of the pool with my Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm which happend to be just out of range of the Pixel Pawn triggers that I had causing massive misfires adding to our complications.
Despite the burning nature of the photoshoot, we were shooting continuously with models which meant that we had to be 100% certain that our models stayed as warm as they possibly could during the trial and error tweaking process of the photographs and this meant having blankets (or a cape) to keep our models warm. I think that this is something that many upcoming photographers forget when they work with models – they spend a lot of time tweaking settings while the models are stuck in an uncomfortable pose. (If you haven’t seen it, go check out some random tips and tricks that you should keep in mind as aphotographer… from a model’s perspective. Check out this article Dear Photographer. Kindest regards, Model).
What I recommend, especially when using such a variable element as fire is to get your effect right before even starting to ask your model to pose.
warmer models = more awesome poses in the long run.
And finally, the one thing to keep in mind and always remember is that fire is a dangerous element. It can have unpredictable effects so be sure to surround yourself with professionals that know how to deal with fire. Things can change in a heartbeat and can often become quite dangerous if you don’t control. As you can see in this effect, different tools can produce vastly different results so you need to be careful… literally… when playing with fire.
Hope you enjoyed this weeks video and blog post
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- 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
As a special effects fire photographer with mild pyromanic tendencies, I often get people asking me a bunch of questions on what they should think about/look into when shooting fire. I’ve compiled a list of tips that should help you out if you ever get called upon to shoot a fire show, capture a memorable moment of a friend lighting himself on fire, or even juggle fire on your own. (I’ll add an FAQ section at the end of this article, so if you have any questions, leave a comment below and I’ll add the answer to the article)
Disclaimer: You should only play with fire in the presence of trained professionals. Kids, don’t try this at home. Adults, you probably shouldn’t either. Fire is very dangerous and should never be treated lightly. Please make sure to read the safety section before scrolling down this article.
See the BST video here
1. Make sure you’re in the presence of a trained professional
I can’t stress this part enough. You want a professional capable of preventing things from going wrong. You also want that same professional around when something goes wrong (and I say when, not if, because it happens.) If you happen to be lucky enough to be in Paris, France… check out Burn Crew Concept!
2. Wear organic, not synthetic
Organic clothing will burn whereas synthetic will melt. And while catching on fire doesn’t sound like the best of situations, I can assure you that it’s better than having something melt into your skin. It actually takes a lot longer for cotton to catch on fire whereas synthetic clothing will almost instantaneously melt. Don’t trust me? Try burning your shirt with a lighter. Of course, fire retardant materials like Nomex are even better but for someone who doesn’t work with fire much and who isn’t in direct contact, the best price/efficiency ratio is to have 100% organic cotton clothing handy.
3. Keep your stuff away from the fiery stuff.
Probably sounds stupid but when flammable fluids are out and about and you don’t quite understand what’s happening the best is to stay far far away. Photographers have the tendency to focus too much on their cameras and their target, but in these situations you want to stay hyperaware of what’s happening around you. Accidents happen and if everyone’s paying attention, it usually keeps things a lot safer.
4. Bring water and a towel
Though the professional there should have all safety materials, it never hurts to be too safe. If, for whatever reason, something goes wrong, a wet towel can solve a lot of your problems and put out most fires or even soothe a burn.
5. Beware the wind!
Wind can and will affect the flames. If possible, try to choose a day without wind or at least search for a sheltered location! If it’s too windy, the flames will RETURN onto a fire spitter!
Now onto the fun part…
Tips and tricks when shooting fire
1. Master your camera
Fire, as most of you probably know is a pretty volatile thing. The shape, texture and colour of the flame will vary depending on the type of material and fuel that is being used. Add onto the fact that the elements (wind, temperature) will also change how the flame reacts means that you need to really be on top of your game to come out of there with the results that you want.
Don’t get caught up in one camera setting, be sure to be able to chimp quickly and recalibrate. Whether your pyrotechnician is spitting fire, lighting himself on fire, or spinning poi’s he’s playing with resources that are literally burning away.
2. Underexpose rather than overexpose
Cameras today such as my D800E have a massive amount of dynamic range. This means that you can recover an amazing amount of detail from the shadows. The same can’t be said for highlights. Lightroom 4 in particular does an amazing job recovering detail.
Overexposed flames! No detail! Still cool… but could have been better! See the BTS video here
3. Using flashes? Add a CTO and a half!
If you plan on using flashes to capture some exciting motion blurs, keep in mind that fire burns a very strong orange! To preserve proper skin tones you’ll want your flashes to be properly gelled if you’re blending flash-frozen subjects with your flames. Failure to do so will result in ghostly white models or way-too-orange environments! Grab two 3/4 CTO gels and stack them!
BTS video coming soon… be sure to subscribe to the newsletter!
4. Shooting a fire show and don’t have time to change settings? Try Bracketing!
I don’t know about you canon folks but the Nikon D7000 and above has a nifty bracketing function which means that you can set your camera to shoot at a variety of exposure settings without ever needing to tweak your camera settings. This can be useful when you’re not sure what the next effect is going to be thrown your way as you can set your camera to capture in continuous burst a -2EV/0/+2EV (for example) series of images that will give you a greater chance of capturing the unexpected.
Of course, as you get more and more familiar with how a show goes, you can confidently toss your camera into manual and change settings without your eye ever leaving the viewfinder!
5. Capturing someone spitting fire? Fast shutter speed!
Fire spitting essentially consists of creating a miniature explosion. This means that you have an extremely rapid “movement” of expanding gas. As all you photographers know, what do you do when you want to freeze movement? You got it! Fast shutter speed!
BTS video coming out soon… be sure to subscribe to the newsletter !
6. Capture someone spinning fire? Slow shutter speed!
Similar to light painting, you can also do fire painting with a burning torch. Keep in mind that you can either keep your camera on a tripod to “burn” in the environment or you can paint with the camera too by moving or zooming it around.
Click HERE to see the BTS video and blog post!
7. Too easy? Try combining slow shutter speed, fast shutter speed AND flashes all at once!
Check out this article and BTS video I wrote on using multiple exposures to combine a slow shutter speed, fast shutter speed and flashes to create the image below.
See the BTS video & blog post to create this image here!
Hopefully these tips and tricks helped you out. Be sure to check back on Wednesday the 1st of Febuary for yet another exciting BTS video and article on my latest fire shoot Subscribe to the newsletter to receive it straight in your email!
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After surviving a crazy 4 hour concept,shoot and edit challenge, I decided to draft up a little survival guide I thought might be useful for all of you to enjoy.
1. Know your stuff. Get it ready!
It is imperative for you to know what resources you’re going to have available to you – what are their limitations. What are the work arounds, if something breaks or fails to work, do you have a backup plan.
- Check your batteries, are they all charged?
- Memory cards. Without these, your camera is useless!
- Triggers: what if they don’t work? Got backups? CLS/cable/optical alternatives?
- Reflector. Bring one it’s useful.
- Tripod. Always want to have one available. Did you bring your base plate? I use the CSLR M-Plate, so my base plate is always tightly screwed onto my camera.
2. Assess the location
Take a couple seconds to look around the space, engage the people that are there at your disposal… Figure out where you can and cannot go. Don’t be scared to ask.
- Is the ceiling low enough to bounce light off of?
- Any interesting objects that can help cast an interesting shadow? Plants are great for this.
- What type of ambient light are you dealing with? Can you turn them on/off?
- Which objects can be moved? What can you do to customize your set?
- How much time do you have available? Who is in charge of the building/space? Become friends with him, he might be able to open some doors for you…literally.
3. Who are the people there and what are they good at ?
If they’re there, they can be used. Figure out what the strengths and weaknesses are of each person that’s there to help you out. Establish a connection with the people and the location. If you’re shooting in a public location and people stop and stare, they can help too!
- Girls are better than boys at makeup and hair. Don’t have a hairstylist? Put a girl to work, she’s probably got more practice than you if you’re male.
- Figure out who has experience in photography. What equipment are they familiar with.
- If they have no experience, take a couple seconds to gather up your potential assistants to explain to them the basics (ex: Don’t put your finger here, this is the optical sensor.)
- Choose wisely. Take a couple seconds to study the people that are available and put them to use accordingly. Don’t put a 12 year old kid on lightstand + umbrella watch duty, he’ll probably get bored and run off.
- Be conscious that these are people probably helping out for free, they’re not your slaves. Be aware of what you’re asking of them. It doesn’t hurt to ask people if everything’s ok.
4. Do first, think later
If time is a very real constraint, get the ball rolling. Turn on all your equipment, take out all the light stands, set up all the softboxes. Have everything ready to go so that when you need it, it’s there.
- If possible, set your assistants to the task. Though they may be slower than you, delegating will free up your hands and mind. If they don’t know how but are a quick learner, get them started and tell them to figure it out.
- Try to lay everything out in a single corner. Seeing your equipment all ready to go can inspire ideas that you hadn’t previously considered.
- Don’t be scared to change things up after you’ve asked someone to do something. If for whatever reason you decide that Flash A should now have a softbox and Flash B a beauty dish instead of the other way around, it’s not the end of the world. No one’s judging you.
As a photographer you’re thinking of concept, lighting, pose, style, communication, timing and more. This means that when one variable changes, the rest need to compensate and the only way to do that is to multitask.
- Can’t multitask? Learn. Start small and build up. You multitask on a daily basis (talking on the phone while cooking while making plans for the next day). How do you do it?
- Create a mental checklist if necessary and run through it over and over again. Here’s an idea of what goes through my mind:
6. Relate to familiar scenarios
Experience plays a huge part in these type of situations. Connect to a similar situation that you had to deal with – what are the similarities. How did you deal with similar challenges.
- If you’re one of those visual people, perhaps it would be handy for you to grab a set of Strobist trade secret cardsor build your own
- Have images you like in a folder on your phone. Seeing images can trigger inspiration.
7. Be confident… or act confident if you’re not.
When you hold the camera in your hand, you’re the dude (or dudette) in charge. Everyone is looking at you to pull the shots. If you look like you have no idea what you’re doing, people will quickly loose confidence in you and things will only get worst.
- Don’t make long uncertain “uhhmmmmm… ahhhhh…” sounds as you consider what to do next. Compliment the parts of the image that work loudly to encourage those that surround you while you panic in your head about the parts that don’t work
- Don’t chimp for too long. A quick glance should tell you how things are looking. People holding uncomfortable poses as you zoom in and consider whether you’ve nailed the perfect Rembrandt lighting will quickly grow uncertain and their pose will suffer int he long run.
- Really want to take the time to review the shot? Call a quick break
- Have a friend in the mix? Pull him/her aside and get an objective opinion… a fresh pair of eyes can help unblock whatever you’re stuck on.
- No idea what to do? Things just really aren’t working? Reset the entire set. Say to the group: “Alright this is great, lets try something new!”
Photo by Jo Gorsky – www.jogorsky.com
For those interested, this was the challenge that triggered it all!
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Since I still had my Nikon D4 and 400mm f/2.8G both graciously loaned to me by Nikon Professional Services, I figured that I’d have to make the most of it so I threw together another shoot with someone I had collaborated with in the past: Michael Demski, one of my flour dancers.
A fan of mine introduced me to a magnificent location over in Hamilton by the name of Albion Falls so I figured: why not combine the two! A couple days after my rooftop adventures with the 400mm f2.8, I booked Michael Demski and told him to bring weapons as well as whatever loose and flowy epic clothing he happened to have lying around. Waterfalls, asians (or half asian in our case) and swords inevitably tell a pretty amazing story without requiring much explanation.
The first thing we did when arriving at the location was to scout out where we could actually go as well as how we could safely get to the various locations that we wanted to reach. Since I had a 400mm f2.8 (and absolutely wanted to use it) I had to get reaaaally far away to be able to get the shot framed like I wanted. This meant scaling the closest mountain with my 6 kg of camera gear.
My vantage point
This brought us a bunch of challenges. For one, communication. We hadn’t planned on shooting through a ravine and didn’t have any walkie-talkies with us… thankfully though, I had brought along my Sennheiser G3 mic that served as a great one-way communication device. This meant that I could whisper instructions in my interns ear as I telescoped in with my 400mm f2.8 to interpret her reaction. Though not the greatest method of communication (and resulting in many an incomprehensible and frustrating series of hand gestures) things ended up working quite fine.
The second failure was that our Skyport triggers wouldn’t trigger consistently across the great expanse so despite having dragged the gear up the ridiculously steep hill, we ended up having to shoot ambient.
Experiencing Skyport malfunctions courtesy of Photagonist. Communicating via Sennheiser G3
From there, I essentially had two options – for me to try and freeze a moment (pun intended) in time by boosting my shutter speed up extremely high (and compensating with the D4′s jaw-dropping high-ISO performance) … or to attempt to combine a longer shutter speed with a static pose to get a nice creamy water effect.
Shutter speed of 1/10th of a second vs. Shutter Speed of 1/1600th of a second. (ISO800 in the right if you’re curious!)
Personally, I really liked the creamy look so I took a couple different variants of Michael staying absolutely still in the freezing water. He was an absolute trooper in staying nearly a 100% still as I relayed instructions to him through my temporary avatar/intern.
Small camera tip for those of you who want ever try out the long lens + frozen model combination.
Set your camera on Continuous shooting mode at nothing slower than 1/10th of a shutter speed and shoot in small little bursts each time you’re satisfied with a pose, you’ll maximize your chance of getting an image in which your model is completely still!
Though it would have been great fun to play with some more poses, I felt that I really needed to wrap Michael up in something nice and warm so we called a break and decided to transition to another waterfall. In the meantime, we got Michael a gigantic hot chocolate with some whipped cream to heat him back up.
Less than an hour later, Michael was back on his feet performing magic tricks. He was feeling so lightheaded after being frozen in the waterfall that he was able to harness his amazing asian mindpowers and begin levitating. No photoshop!!
Ok no but seriously, there wasn’t any photoshop, just Michael’s absolutely stunning jumping abilities. Curious to see the jump at 11 fps (right to left, asian manga style!)? Check it:
By the time we made it to the waterfall, Michael was pumped up and ready to enter the water but unfortunately there wasn’t much of a waterfall left… so we settled for shooting a far more calm and meditative shot… that required to be 2 feet from the edge of a nice 41 meter high waterfall.
I had Basia and Ajay, two of my assistants toss leaves from behind the trees not too far away from the death drop towards Michael in hopes of creating some motion blur… the results weren’t as spectacular as I had hoped but I still like the final result!
So I’m sure that by now all of you are wondering: OK so why would anyone go out in the freezing cold, freeze even more by entering a waterfall, fall headfirst into the floor jumping around and risk his life by staying on the edge of a cliff to model for YOU?
Well, Michael is beginning his career soon as an actor (check out his demo reel here: here!) and he needed a head shot. I told him that I’d shoot it if he accepted to model for me.
The beautiful headshot in question?
Hope you enjoyed this weeks blog post and thanks all for your comments and sharing!
PS. If you’ve reched the end of this blog post and are still reading, I’d like to offer you the chance to win a Von Wong bracelet! Simply share the post, leave a comment (on my blog) and I’ll draw your name from the list and have it shipped off!
Winners announced next week
I’ve been receiving a lot of questions lately on who I am, what I do, how I do it… so I figured I’d throw together a 15 minute interview on myself for you guys! Since I had recently written an article on inspiration for Kwerfeldein, I figured I’d throw up the english version over here on my end of the world. Combined with the fact that PetaPixel requested an interview with me I figured I’d merge the two topics together and make this video. It’s quite challenging filming and editing things yourself so I did the best I could here….! Sorry for the “ums” and “has”… I’m still working on my camera face !
To commemorate this interview, I have whipped out an extremely old set of images I had taken in the past and finally completed a concept that I’ve had running in my mind for the longest time. These portraits of me were actually shot somewhere in Feb. 2010… the background in Israel on March 2012 and finally all spontaneously thrown together in Sept 2012.
The message? That we are the sum of our experiences. Good, bad… they are all a part of who we are today. There is no need to fear what is to come… we’ll get through it.
That’s it for now! I leave you with my article on HOW I FIND INSPIRATION.
As a creative artist, I am often asked: How do you come up with such crazy ideas? How do you find the people to participate? Where do you find the time and the energy?
The answer is one word: Inspiration.
Inspiration is paramount, for without it, we cannot create. It is the momentum that pushes an idea into motion. That starting point before you even pick up the camera. Being open to inspiration is to wake up in the morning and feel excited to be alive. To look at the world as a place of endless opportunities, and have the energy and drive to follow through with them. Being inspired is like being in love – it moves and transforms you.
“The Agonist” – Behind the Scenes with Video
Before continuing, let me introduce myself. I am a 25 year old self-taught photographer who spontaneously dived into photography following a break up in November 2007. At the time, I was working in a Gold mine in the barren deserts of Winnemucca, Nevada, and decided that taking pictures of the beautiful night skies would be a great distraction. The journey began with a trip to Wal-Mart.
Most recently, I quit my job as a Mining Engineer to pursue my passion. I do not consider myself an expert so what follows is merely an opinion. However, it is my deepest hope that these words help inspire and excite your own desires.
What If I am not Inspired?
The answer is simple: Get Inspired.
The truth, nobody is always inspired. Not me and probably not the artists you aspire to, who craft ingenious masterpieces. Passionate individuals are especially cursed as the waves of up and down swing greater than average. The exhilarating high that you get from creating invariably leads to a resounding low or a disappointment when the latest project fails to meet your expectations.
What separates artists who stand out from those that fade away is perserverence – the ones who continually innovate and create in spite of any challenging obstacles.
How to get inspired?
Everyone has his or her own way of getting inspired. Personally, I believe the best way to become inspired is live life. Get out there, meet new people, and listen. Everybody has a unique story, and more often than not, these tales can trigger emotions which may inspire you.
For instance, the image below shows the outcome of meeting with a fan for coffee and a brainstorming session. While chatting, she slowly opened up to a burden of pain and sadness brought on from the death of loved ones. The raw emotion transformed into a concept, which grew into a photo shoot. There was no way I could have discovered this idea alone. Yet, by taking a chance, meeting new people and listening, I was able to reveal empathy and facilitate healing with a creative twist.
Collaboration with Chester Van Bommel via artsome.be
Alternatively, looking within can also yield surprising results. I have always found emotions to be a great muse for creativity. Heartbreaks in particular have always been an impressive source for innovation. It is not easy, you have to force yourself to get up in the morning and focus on transcribing your emotions into art. Once you get into motion, you will be amazed at the things that you can accomplish. For it is useless to remain fixated on something that cannot change.
While being in this state can be absolutely fantastic for creativity, chances are you probably don’t want to spend your time in permanent heartbreak. The key, I believe, is to learn how to experience that same burst of creativity while in a state of happiness and peace.
Whatever your case may be, whether you have the strength to believe in yourself or not, inside of you lies the key to unlocking your inspiration. You just have to look for it.
Still not inspired?
Start to surround yourself with passionate individuals.
There is something incredibly infectious about a person who is passionate about what they do. Find people that relentlessly strive to perform and succeed because their drive and dedication to persevere will rub off on you too.
I recently crowd-funded a tour to travel through Europe and had the opportunity to meet up with some of these very passionate individuals. One instance was putting together a shot for Dave Reynolds, the director of the Underwater Realm. At 26 years old, Dave not only gathered an entire crew of people to shoot a series of underwater shorts probono, crowd funded over a 100,000$ for his project, but also developed new equipment and techniques to facilitate the whole process of shooting underwater.
Another moment was meeting with Andrey DAS, one of the pioneers of fire breathing in Paris, France. He had spent the last 9 years of his life building a community of pyrotechnicians and developing new spitting techniques to share with those around him at no profit whatsoever.
“Epic Pyrotechnician” – Behind the Scenes Video
Both artists find inspiration in art. They have an innate drive to push the boundaries and use their talents to the fullest potential. Concepts and ideas thrive in teams, and those who dare to dream can help make yours come true.
Alright! I got this. I have the most brilliant idea ever. Now what?
Convince the people you want to participate in the project that your idea is undeniably the most brilliant idea ever! A couple tips that can help you along the way:
- Believe in your project. People pick up on that passion and drive. If your eyes are shining with enthusiasm and confidence that this is THE project of the year, people will get hooked onto that. If you’re confident in your project’s success, let it show.
- Show a good track record. Showcase past projects that have yielded good results. It does not matter if the projects are slightly unrelated; people are looking for proof that you won’t be wasting their time. If you happen to be starting out and don’t have very much to show then consider starting small. Build that track record.
- Make it about them. While your projects might be amazing, people are going to want to know what’s in it for them. In creative collaborations, people are donating their time and talent and will be expecting something in return. Whatever you’re offering, whether it be a unique experience or a portfolio piece, make sure you emphasize what they will gain from their involvement.
- Delegate. It can become overwhelming when there are too many pieces to hold together. Try to delegate responsibilities, give people additional tasks to help you with the project. Not only will this lighten your own workload, it will also make people feel included and acknowledged.
- Follow up. Although people may become enthusiastic about your project you have to remember that you are the glue holding the whole thing together. Make sure you follow up with your fellow artists to make sure they are still on board. It is your duty to keep that excitement going. Let them be aware of the progress to keep the momentum alive.
“Les Artisans d’Azure” – Behind the Scenes Video
Last few words…
I hope that these words will inspire you. I think that the key to starting something is to simply start it. People have the tendency of doing things “later” and they never get done. If you have an idea in mind, give yourself a deadline and make it happen. Don’t worry about making it perfect right off the bat… you will make mistakes, guaranteed! You will also fail at some point in time, so accept that reality and try anyways. Whatever it is you want to do in life, start today. Don’t wait until you’re old and your life becomes a series of should haves.
“Ballerinas from the National Slovak Theater” – Behind the Scenes Video
Learn more on…
- Blog: www.vonwong.com/blog
- Youtube: www.youtube.com/thevonwong
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/vonwongphotography
- 500px: www.500px.com/vonwong
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/vonwongphotoSpecial thanks to Kara Jeffery for helping me proof-read this article !
As part of my research on making things look glowingly magical in an upcoming music video I’m being asked to direct, I was told that highlighters have the hidden ability to glow in the dark when graced with the presence of a blacklight
. Curious to test things out (and also happening to have a blacklight
hidden in one of my closets) I invited Alliebee Henna to come over and doodle all over my body with a highlighter and see what we could create.
This pattern took a surprisingly long 4 hours to create (with a couple fails in between) and a total of 3 highlighter. A small note: highighters are extremely hard to erase from skin! We tried rubbing with a loofah, soap and even some alcohol and couldn’t…for the life of us couldn’t erase it completely! To the visible eye, it’s not so bad… but in the blacklight, the wipes show. Thankfully, Alliebee was able to do a remarkable job on me despite my continuous fidgeting! We even attempted to dilute highlighter in water to put in my hair but that unfortunately really didn’t produce as much light as we were hoping for so a wig became plan B.
These shots were taken at ISO 1600, f2.8 and 1/60th of a second so if you do attempt this on your own, be sure to try and bring the light as close as possible because these things don’t put out very much light!
Hopefully this inspires you guys to try things out on you
PS. Do not open highlighter with knife. It can be dangerous
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: