Behind The Scenes on Karl Taylor’s messy shoot with the new Hasselblad’s H6D!

I was one of just a few lucky photographers tasked with the job of shooting with the new Hasselblad H6 camera and producing images for the camera’s launch. Having already seen the camera in Sweden and run through some of the amazing new features I was very excited to put it to the test.

If you haven’t already then you can see how that all went in the launch video at the very bottom of this post. In this blog though I wanted to answer several of the questions we’ve been getting regarding the shoot itself.

Watch the Behind the Scenes Video.

Yes it was very messy, in fact it took two days to clean up and then we still had to paint the cove back to white. For the shoot I chose the particular hue of blue for the background because it juxtaposed well with the orange paint that I was going to use in my shots. All of the paint was standard water based emulsion and we had several of the colors mixed to suit so that they would work when watered down. For many of the shots we used the paint watered down about 60/40. Our first problem we encountered was the paint not coming out even if the lids were left on loosely, in the end we had to put the lids on upside down just resting on the tin so that they flew off as the left the ramp.

I opted for a high-speed shoot as I love this type of photography where I can ‘reveal’ these magical moments that are hidden from our normal vision. To do this I had to rely on my trusty Broncolor Scoro packs with their 1/15,000th of a second flash burst that freezes the action perfectly. My lighting set up was very simple, just an over head scrim with two flash heads, a silver reflector below and a ‘Flooter’ lighting the background for a lovely soft gradient ball of light. I covered the silver reflector with clear plastic so that it could be changed regularly otherwise due to all the paint it wouldn’t reflect well.

Karl Taylor Messy Paint Shoot

Looking down the ramp with reflector at the bottom

Karl Taylor Messy Paint Shoot

The trick for the shoot was all about timing, I knew I could rely on the H6 but it had to be linked to a MIOPs sound trigger which activates the camera’s shutter the moment it detected the sound of the tins hitting. In fact we had to adjust the delay time a little to 30ms as it triggered so well. We actually realized that the slow motion cameras being used to film were a good way to review when the best part of the collision took place and then adjusted the MIOPs trigger to suit. The H6 camera was set into manual focus, looking at a pre-determined zone where we knew our paint tins would collide (assuming the girls released them at the same time!). The lens was set to f16, the camera at ISO 100 and the Broncolor Scoro packs to suit. The shutter speed was at 1/1000th but that is irrelevant for a shoot like this as you are relying on the flash to freeze the action not the shutter. That shutter speed was more than enough to cut out the ambient light from the studio so that we were capturing the exposure only with the burst of flash. Incidentally the new H lenses and H6 can sync all the way up to 1/2000th so you can cut out lots of daylight if you want when working with flash outdoors!

Miops Triggers

You can buy these Miops Triggers from us!

Our two helpers were photography students from a local college and they were very excited to get messy and help out on the shoot. Don’t worry we also paid them for their time as they did work very hard, mixing paint, and releasing over 400 tins of paint down the ramps! It took two days and about 120 attempts until we had used all our tins (we were releasing several at a time). We originally ran some dry run tests to perfect the angle and distance of the ‘ski ramps’ and then used water before we got onto the messy stuff. You can see our testing in the ‘Behind the Scenes’ video below.

Paint Tins

The resulting images are as they were shot but two different images were layered together to have twice the amount of stuff going on in the shots. This technique is very simple because the camera is fixed on the mono-stand and the lighting is consistent on each exposure so I just find my two favorite ‘explosions’ and then layer one set of tins crashing into another image of them crashing without having to do anything else. Simple! The exception to this being that they didn’t always crash… The very nature of chaos meant that not every paint slide collided properly. Slight variables in the amount of paint in each tin, the moment of release, the delay time set on the trigger etc. etc. all yielded different results and with this type of photography some shots you get lucky and others you don’t!

Who wants to clean this mess up?

However after about 120 goes we had about 12 amazing images of which I chose a few as the final shots. I then set about on the next batch and that was to create an orange number ‘6’ out of liquid paint. To do this required me to flick and swirl a wine glass of paint over and over until I could capture half of the number 6 in one direction and then half in the other direction. Once I was happy I had the elements needed I knew they could be comped together to create the final number 6 to be used for the H6 launch images.

For the video and the filming in slow-motion we relied on the Broncolor HMI lights as our filming light-source. These gave flicker free clean light for certain parts of the sequence. Unfortunately we as we were having to shoot stills and ‘look’ at the lighting for the stills we also had to film some sequences without the HMIs, you can notice the flickering in the slowmo without the HMIs, which just shows how good the Broncolor HMI lights are for high speed filming.

Broncolor HMI lights for video

Broncolor HMI lights for video

Six in paint!

In the behind the scenes video at the top of the page you can also see part of the clean up operation and the prep for the shoot. I hope you enjoy the BHS video and if you have any questions please feel free to ask them below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!