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The Everyday Sling might just be the perfect pack for not carrying too much gear, combining comfort with Peak Design's signature modern style.
1 Engineering a Difference: Benjamin Von Wong Part 2
In part 1 of this interview with Montreal-based photographer Benjamin Von Wong (vonwong.com) I talked to him about how he made the transition from day job to a successful photographer and workshop leader with a global following in just over two years. In this second half of the interview, I ask him about some of his more famous images and series and how they were created. Von Wong is entirely open about how he creates his work, and as we discussed in the first interview, there are many how-to videos on his site and blog that explain some of the shots in even greater detail. There are links to some of those videos below.
Yes. I know that a lot of things can be done in post-production and in Photoshop, but for me a lot of the fun is making them happen in reality. For some reason our society looks down on anything that is done with CGI or Photoshop; it's just considered not real and it has no credibility. For me that is where the behind-the-scenes videos come in: I can prove that we actually brought something magical to life.
There is something that's very cool about being on-set and building something up from scratch that you just don't get when you're sitting in front of a computer. I really love those human interactions, I like sitting down with people and meeting with them and traveling to new places. That's a huge part of why I enjoy doing what I do. It's not just creating a new world; I could probably do that alone sitting in front of my computer. But now I get to interact with other people and bring an idea to life and see it come together one step at a time. It's a very different experience.
|From the "Fallen Angel" series. Concept by Kelly Zak and Benjamin Von Wong. October, 2013|
I don't know. Where does the concept of an angel come from? It's just there in your mind. There's not really any story behind it, I'm not really religious, so there's no religious background to any of this. Fallen angels are usually depicted with their wings ripped off, but I thought it would be visually cool to have an angel that had crashed through the heavens, with wings just broken and burned and tattered.
|From the "Fallen Angel" series. October, 2013|
I met this woman on the Internet named Kelly Zak who had posted a status on Facebook saying one day she would love to work with Von Wong. She didn't know how, but said it would be so cool if it happened. Fast forward two months: I put up a picture, and she left a comment on it and said she thought she'd never be good enough to work with me. I responded saying, 'It's just practice,' and I gave her some tips for improving her photographs.
She was a film student in Florida, and she asked me if there was anything I had never had the chance of doing before but that I would be interested in doing one day? I told her that I always wanted to create some images of a fallen angel. So she challenged me, saying, "Well, if you ever come to Orlando I'll make a fallen angel for you." I told her if she made me a fallen angel I'd come to Florida. So she started researching and building this angel and I just thought, well, I guess need to buy a ticket to Florida. Basically, we just called each other's bluff.
We really didn't plan things much until the day I arrived. All we had was a very vague template of an angel wing. The shoot was going to happen around eight days after I arrived, so we had a total of about eight days to pull something together. Day one we went out and started location scouting, day two she started bringing in some of her friends: a costume designer, a set designer, and it slowly grew one piece at a time on the back of nothing more than an idea.
The concept was originally going to be a very simple shot of a fallen angel, but when I saw the location, which was a forest of giant oak trees with Spanish moss. I got very excited by the location. The funny thing is that when I told her that the setting was perfect, she was surprised because she thought it was such a common setting. But when you travel you see things through new eyes and she just didn't see the setting in the same way that I did.
I decided to create this elaborate, massively complex scene, and I started to have visions of characters, and we got kind of trapped figuring out how we were going to bring this storyline together with them. We started figuring out what we could we actually accomplish in the amount of time we had available to us. The project just grew larger and larger.
I think that comes from being a passionate individual. When people look at you and they see that you love what you do, you're going to make things happen, and that you're going to be generous about it, they want to help you. People like to help other people. I think it's a natural inclination to encourage people when you sense they are doing something they enjoy. People who like my work are going to want to support me.
There were a couple of first experiments that weren't significant, where I went out like a hobbyist would, and just grabbed some pictures of some friends spitting fire.
Just Do It. "Sometimes life is just about taking risks…about going out there and just making something happen. Spitting fire at the Louvre? Why not?" November, 2013
Yes, don't you? I spit fire. Actually my profile picture on my fan page is me spitting fire. It's very simple to learn, it just looks very impressive and it's mildly dangerous. You could die, but you'd need to be stupid and careless. If you inhale the flames it incinerates your lungs. It's the one thing not to do. If you do the other dangerous thing, which is to spit into the wind or have the flames come back at you for whatever reason, that's just generally unpleasant because it gives you a mild burn. I've had my hair lit on fire before and you just pat it out. You should always spit with a spotter, though. There should always be somebody there in case you do light up. You don't always know you're on fire for a couple of seconds; you need somebody to tell you you're on fire. And usually when you notice, it's too hot already.
The reason I got into fire photography seriously was that Fstoppers was putting on a behind-the-scenes video competition and I wanted to do a really good video so I could attract good publicity - and I wanted to win the prize, which was like ten grand.
So I wondered, what's the most epic thing that a person could do with fire? I thought lighting a person on fire is obviously the most exciting thing, so I wanted to do that. I went on Facebook and I asked, "Okay, who wants to get lit on fire?" And I had someone actually reply. The first time I funded it, and I found a stunt man who had experience - but he didn't burn. It was just too windy.
The first try, and you can see it on Gizmodo, was actually quite miserable because the photos didn't come out good. In fact, they actually looked really bad, but the photos got very popular and I was really pissed off that the photos got so widely seen, because it was a completely failed assignment. In the end I had to Photoshop some flames onto him because he wouldn't light on fire well enough.
I knew we needed to try again. So I got the safety guy from the first shot to come in and light himself on fire on a motorcycle. He was going to be plan B and we took the shoot to a more sheltered space with a lot less wind to try it all over again. But it was too cold and the fuel wouldn't light properly - so that was the second failure.
Through these two videos of failed shots I got tons of visibility, much to my disappointment, and then this pyrotechnics expert in France named Andrey Das noticed my work and said, "You have nice work but your fire stuff kind of sucks." I went and checked out his work and he had some amazing stuff. So I contacted him and told him we should work together when I come to France. And he was like, "Yeah, yeah - when you come to France, then we'll talk."
It just so happened that I quit my day job around this time and I was looking for inspirational people to shoot across Europe. So I responded and told him I was putting together a trip across Europe and asked if he'd be one of my subjects. He still said, "Yeah, yeah - if you want." So I told him that to date I had raised $5,000 and I showed him the Kickstarter link. He realized I was serious and from then on he took me seriously and we started working together.
The Everyday Sling might just be the perfect pack for not carrying too much gear, combining comfort with Peak Design's signature modern style.
When the Fujifilm X-T2 arrived, it was more than just a modest upgrade to the already impressive X-T1. While the new X-T3 hasn't changed the overall design of the camera, this model is way more than an upgrade; rather, it's a quantum leap.
The Movie Maker is a compact, motorized slider designed for phones, action cams and small mirrorless cameras. We think it's a fun little kit and a good value proposition for the cost, provided you can work around a few of its weak points.
Nikon's Z7 is the first camera to use the all-new Z-mount, the company's first new full-frame mount since 1959. We've put together our first impressions based on quality shooting time with a pre-production camera - check out what we've found.
What's the best camera for a parent? The best cameras for shooting kids and family must have fast autofocus, good low-light image quality and great video. In this buying guide we've rounded-up several great cameras for parents, and recommended the best.
What's the best camera for shooting landscapes? High resolution, weather-sealed bodies and wide dynamic range are all important. In this buying guide we've rounded-up several great cameras for shooting landscapes, and recommended the best.
What’s the best camera costing over $2000? The best high-end camera costing more than $2000 should have plenty of resolution, exceptional build quality, good 4K video capture and top-notch autofocus for advanced and professional users. In this buying guide we’ve rounded up all the current interchangeable lens cameras costing over $2000 and recommended the best.
|My Garden by Mitchmeister|
from The Secret Garden
|Crowded Skies by Rushlin|
from Seven types of aircraft - lighter than air
The 'I'm Back' is now available for a range of old film-SLRs, such as Nikon's F-Series, the Olympus OM10 or the Canon AE-1.
IRIX has announced its latest lens, the 150mm F2.8 Macro 1:1. IRIX claims the lens features 'close to zero' distortion and stands out with its 150mm telephoto focal length.
The RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM is one of four lenses to launch with Canon's new full-frame mirrorless system, and it boasts the longest reach of the range. Take a look at some of the samples we've gathered thus far as our EOS R testing continues.
Nikon's Sendai factory in the Tōhoku region North of Japan has been churning out cameras and lenses since 1971. We had the opportunity recently to visit Sendai during events to mark the launch of Nikon's new Z mount.
There's no mistaking the Nikon Coolpix P1000 – with a 24-3000mm equivalent zoom, it really is in a class of its own. It's a conspicuous-looking superzoom with one main job: getting you really close to far away subjects. We've put together a gallery showing the kind of results you can expect from it.
A new report from The Verge claims Instagram is currently testing a feature that allows users to re-share posts to their own account feeds.
GoPro has announced its HERO7 camera lineup. The updated action cameras feature new HyperSmooth and TimeWarp modes, as well as improved video and photo specs.
The latest Samsung midrange smartphone offers a super-wide-angle lens in its triple-camera setup.
The Sony 24mm F1.4 is the latest lens to join the company's premium G Master lineup. We've been shooting with one for a couple of days - here's what you need to know.
Apple released iOS 12 a few days ago and some iPhone X users are less than happy with how the new operating system has made their phones look.
Camera bag manufacturer Lowepro has introduced mark II backpacks for its ProTactic AW range with models that are said to feature an improved handling experience as well as a collection of accessories that can be attached to the outside.
Canon has announced its latest superzoom camera, the PowerShot SX70 HS. Compared to the SX60 that came before it, the SX70 has the same lens but offers a higher resolution EVF, 4K video capture and support for Canon's new CR3 Raw format.
Cosina has announced its eighth lens designed specifically for Sony's E-mount system. The Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 lens is due out October 2018.
Sony has taken the wraps off of its new 24mm F1.4 GM full-frame lens, which the company claims is the lightest in its class. Despite its fast aperture, the 24mm F1.4 is remarkably light, weighing just 445 grams (15.7 ounces). The lens will set you back $1400 when it ships next month.
In this episode of DPReview TV we take a look at Sony's brand new 24mm F1.4 GM lens, a desirable focal length for many photographers. How does it perform? Chris and Jordan give us their first impressions.
We've had a little time to shoot with Sony's new wide/fast prime, both close to home and on the water in San Francisco. Check out our initial sample images.
Fujifilm released a firmware upgrade for its X-T3 mirrorless camera that addresses issues with distortion compensation and the mechanical lock on SD cards.
The app's algorithms have been trained using using 200 million cropping data points from real photographers.
Thanks to a software update, the Loupedeck+ editing console can now be used for video editing.
British photographic engineer MTF Services is claiming the world’s first third-party lens adapters for the new Nikon Z system with a collection of four units designed to allow cinema lenses to be mounted on the mirrorless full frame bodies.
Think Tank Photo has updated its line of heavy-duty rain covers and introduced a new, compact version for emergency situations.
The X-T3 is our first opportunity to analyze what's likely to be Fujifilm's next generation image sensor. Take a look at how it performs next to the competition in our studio test scene.
Canon's new normal is seriously sharp wide open. After shooting with it for a few days, we've prepared a gallery of real-world sample images.
Nikon will cease offering Brazil-based customer service and technical support, though the company stresses that it will still offer technical assistance and warranty repairs for valid warranties.
Two years ago, CatLABS of JP announced a plan to save Packfilm from the dead. Now, it's announced it's giving up its efforts to better focus its resources elsewhere.
The GoPro Fusion is designed to make it easy to capture 360-degree video and stills. We took it out recently on a typically hot Seattle summer day to see what it can do.
We've got our hands on a full-production Nikon Z7 camera and have updated our gallery with additional samples.
A new Kickstarter campaign seeks funding for Chroma Chrono, a programmable RGB camera flash that emits multiple colors during long exposures.
Think Tank Photo has launched a new lineup of six dual-access, water-resistant protective lens cases it calls Lens Case Duo.
Canon and Nikon finally entered the full-frame mirrorless market this summer with the brand-new RF and Z mounts. Now that we've had some time with the cameras, we wanted to revisit our earlier predictions and take stock.