This photographer shot his subjects on a real lava field for these incredible images

Oct 19, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

This photographer shot his subjects on a real lava field for these incredible images

Oct 19, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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There’s a whole lot one can do with Photoshop these days to put your subjects into any environment we wish. But, for me, nothing beats the authenticity of shooting on location. It seems Ben Von Wong feels the same way. For his latest project he took his model, Tau, and crew out into the middle of Hawaiian lava fields.

The project is part of Ben’s work to raise awareness for climate change, and to give back to those who have been victims of natural disaster. In this case, Hurricane Matthew. Assisted by lava expert and landscape photographer CJ Kale, ben and his crew set off for the Big Island of Hawaii to capture the shots. Fortunately for us, as well as fantastic images, Ben also created a behind the scenes video documenting everything that went into their production.

YouTube video

With ground temperatures reaching 2000°F and a toxic sulphur dioxide cloud you’d think things were bad enough. But nope, the problem with lava is that it’s hard to track, and moves, meaning the landscape is constantly shifting and changing. Fortunately for Ben and his crew, they stumbled upon some amazing locations.

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With an array of equipment that included a Broncolor Siros L, a bunch of speedlights, smoke balls, a battery powered smoke machine and a 2L water sprayer, they had to work quickly to get each shot. Due to the extreme heat, Tau could only stand in place for very short periods of a time.

The custom made costumes would have also added to the strain on Tau’s body, and heat buildup. This is why they brought a water sprayer, to help cool down the model between takes.

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Ben had hoped that the moon would be out during the night of the shoot. Unfortunately, the moon was nowhere to be seen. So, it had to be created, with the help of the Siros L and assistant, Tama. Every time Ben or Tau would move, Tama would also have to navigate the lava to get the right angle on the light to simulate moonlight while remaining hidden behind Tau.

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Working in near blackness, this must’ve been a difficult task. Although, an essential one. Without that big backlight, the shots would’ve just been a bunch of “boring red glows within a sea of darkness”, according to Ben.

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Once the backlight was positioned, they began experimenting with smoke and water. The water sprayer pulled double duty. This helped to simulate steam coming out of the cracks.

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It really is an amazing and unique set of images. I have to admit to being a tiny bit jealous. Although, I’m not sure I’d have the guts to do a shoot like this even if I had the opportunity.

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Prints of the work are available to purchase from Ben, with all proceeds going towards victims of Hurricane Matthew. This support is being sent through St Boniface Haiti Foundation.

You can find out more about the project on Ben’s website, follow him on Facebook and Instagram, or reach out to him through Twitter.

[via Von Wong]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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2 responses to “This photographer shot his subjects on a real lava field for these incredible images”

  1. J Bryan Kramer Avatar
    J Bryan Kramer

    Seems to be dangerously stupid to me. That near a stream of lava you could easily fall thru a crust of rock into hot lava. With potentially fatal results. Plus I suspect these people disobeyed Park regulations.

  2. Jake Scott-Gardner Avatar
    Jake Scott-Gardner

    So creative. Epic stuff!