When we were asked to shoot explosion shapes for Old El Paso, I initially thought, “oh yeah, this is doable”. But as we worked our way through the approach, a few challenges came up. I had an idea of how to shoot the stills, in fact high speed photography is like shooting landscapes, most photographers have played around with it in some shape or another. However, when I thought about shooting motion, I started to realise the difference. With a still, we just needed elements, we could piece them together in post, if need be, to make a perfect explosion. But with motion, we had nowhere to hide anything. It all had to happen in camera.
After some testing, I worked out an unconventional way to make the powder create the shape naturally, and most importantly how to reproduce the shape consistently enough to capture what we needed, in camera, and with agency and client watching!
Shoot day at Rokeby Studios was a mixture of tiptoeing around expensive equipment while blasting coloured powder towards it. We shot a number blasts in super slow mo on a RED camera, then shot an equal number of stills afterwards for print. We all huddled around the monitors as we went and ooohed and aaahed at what fed through. It was an amazingly fun shoot. Here’s a behind the scenes pic of yours truly mid shoot.
I’ve posted one of the test blasts here (above). The final ad used a different coloured powder, but this test had a random stem in the middle like a flower. Here’s the final ad below: