Recently, the incredibly talented surrealist photographer Ben Von Wong was asked to shoot his first global campaign ever. Von Wong is known for his epic photography and this project was to be just that—epic. The challenge set forth was to capture a model surrounded by fire, almost on fire really, using nothing but a smartphone, absolutely no Photoshop. So Von Wong put his imagination to work and created his Fire Angel:
For the global launch of their new smartphone, the P8, Huawei wanted an ad that really highlighted the advanced photographic abilities of the phone. They wanted the craziest photograph possible using their brand new light painting function… and fire!
Von Wong was commissioned by the company to do his magic, but he was given three rules:
- He must use the phone’s Light Painting function.
- The model must be surrounded by fire.
- Absolutely no Photoshop allowed!
This was going to be challenging, since fire is pretty difficult to capture on its own. Not only can it be dangerous to work with, but its luminosity varies with time. Shooting long exposures means motion blur and usually a high end camera with a large dynamic range is needed to capture the high contrast between the subject and the flames. Von Wong normally uses a $33,000 Mamiya Leaf Credo 80 to create his art pieces. How was he going to do this with just a smartphone?
The P8, luckily, found a way to cut out the excessive amount of noise that comes with smaller sensors. To minimize noise, the P8 captures multiple images, then compares them and stacks and blends them—all without the help of a computer.
A fire performance team, Starlight Alchemy, was brought in to help with the critical testing before doing the actual shoot. Once Von Wong knew the fiery image was going to be possible, he set to work on the lighting.
The set’s lighting was designed to make the pillars and backdrop stand out without making the model look blurry. To make sure the model stood out, without blur, a single Broncolor flash was set up overhead and was manually triggered. A set of Formatt Hi-Tech ND filters were taped to the front of the P8 to get the perfect tone. Once the setting and lighting were perfect, it was up to the fire painters of Starlight Alchemy to create the perfect shape.
Like a synchronized dance, the team worked together to come up with a final epic image of the fire angel.
All images © Benjamin Von Wong and used with permission.
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