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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
[via Von Wong]