One of the things that I love about photography is it allows us the ability to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. We, as photographers, are only limited by our imagination. Sure, you need some basic skills, but truth is, if we posses the basic skills needed to light and create images, it’s only our imagination that is holding us back from creating something phenomenal. Personally, when I think of extraordinary portraits that excite, inspire, and capture our imagination, one man always comes to mind: Benjamin Von Wong.
In the video below, Von Wong uses his wild imagination to transform an ordinary 9 to 5 programmer into what Wong calls a “post apocalyptic manly man.”
Von Wong is using some of the best gear in the game during this shoot, but gear aside, his lighting and composition is fairly simple. Von Wong’s imagination is what I think has always made him stand out in a crowd. When you combine the imagination he has with the technical skills, you get the great images he always creates.
My favorite image from this Von Wong shoot is the one below. Von Wong used a three light set up, a fully focused Broncolor Para 133 camera left and to the front of his subject for his main light. A gridded softbox camera right and behind his subject for fill light, and a carefully placed light and smoke machine out of view behind his subject and the car to create and light the smoke we see in the image. Using a Mamiya Credo 645+ DF allowed him to shoot at 1/1600 of a second. This fast sync speed allowed him to nail his exposure and have crisp bright flames coming from the torch vs. blurry flames at a slower sync speed.
Final settings: ISO 50, f/5.0. 1/1600
As with any of the projects Von Wong produces, I’m impressed. I really like the concept behind this shoot: to take an ordinary guy and make him look like one bada** dude (in a good way) is so much fun. I love how everyone, but the makeup artist are people Von Wong had never meet, but found to help him via social media. I think the most important thing to take away from this Von Wong shoot is this: even though he is using some of the best gear in the market, with a great imagination, team, and determination, you too could create awesome images even if you just have basic gear. It’s the vision that is the most important element.
Von Wong goes into great detail about this shoot on his blog. Check it out for more images and lighting diagrams.
CREDITS: Photographs by Von Wong have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artis