Josh Ross Flashes the Bull
There’s nothing like highly-professional product photography. It gives consumers confidence not only in products, but in brands themselves. When there’s compelling conceptual psychology and movement in product photography, the image strives to reach another level. Here’s how photographer Josh Ross put together this Red Bull photo shoot, in his own words.
The inspiration for this shot was a combination of recent client work and serendipity. I shoot with Dynalite gear. As much as I love my M1000wi pack, it’s not a speed demon when it comes to flash duration. I had recently done a shoot for Senna Cosmetics where I needed to freeze makeup powder falling in the air, and found it impossible to do. I ended up using speedlights. After the shoot was over, I did some research about what my options were. It looked like I could choose another light setup with a fast flash duration—meaning either a very large check, or lower quality lights.
The other option was I could keep everything I had and liked, but add a pair of the PocketWizard FlexTT5® radios. I started by borrowing a set of FlexTT5 Transceivers, and at about the same time Klout happened to send me a box of Red Bull. I always like to try to shoot something cool with the stuff Klout sends me—kind of a unplanned creative challenge—and since I also wanted to do some motion-stopping work, I knew I wanted to spill some Red Bull.
As far the specifics of the shot, it’s just a combination of my style and my history as an art director. I was an art director for about ten years before I started shooting. I specialized in packaging when I was in school. As a photographer, that has meant I tend to give great deference to the design of the packaging. When shooting still life work, I am often drawn to really simple compositions and color schemes which allow the packaging to shine. The Red Bull can is iconic. With all that in mind, I was at a hardware store and saw the white shelving. It was super inexpensive and already white, so it seemed like a perfect choice.
Once I started shooting, there weren’t any real obstacles to overcome. I had done a lot of preplanning, and everything went very smoothly. I used plastic paint drop cloths to protect the studio, a pair of FlexTT5 radios to get the shutter speed I needed, a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L Mark 1, a Canon 1DS Mark II camera, a Slik Pro 700dx tripod, a PocketWizard MultiMAX radio with CM-N3 remote shutter release cable so I could trigger the camera myself while splashing the liquid, and a Dynalite M1000wi with a 4040 head in a beauty dish for the shot of the can with another 2040 head added for the shot of the splash.
The shot is a composite combining multiple shots of the liquid, all shot at an aperture of f/18 and a shutter speed of 1/5000. The can was shot at 1/160 and f/22. For the shot of the can I hung it where I wanted it using fishing line and lit the whole scene with the 4040 head in a beauty dish. When I was ready to start shooting the liquid, I added a second light with no modifier, the 2040 head has a built in reflector, and walked in front of the camera with a few cans of Red Bull. I held my MultiMAX and triggered the shutter with it as I flung the liquid out of the cans. When I had enough shots I sat down at the computer and went to work.
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