Special Project 2: Oblivion



That?s the title I ended up giving this series. It was so fun to shoot, photographically and literally ?
The idea was planted when I challenged my principles of photography class to do ?something crazy? for their final project. After a few days a student came up to me and said that he wanted to shoot things with his pellet gun but that he didn?t know how exactly to go about doing it. He?d seen things online before and he wanted to make it happen for his final project.
This was not a project I was about to let him shoot himself, and I almost didn?t let him do it at all. But this student, while earning a decent grade, was not really ?feeling it? and I could tell that if he would be allowed to do something ?fun? that he?d have a much better chance at getting the grade he wanted vs. doing something ?less fun.?
So, I agreed to be in the studio with him for this shoot.

The setup

We cut off a section of the roughly 12 ft. wide seamless background paper and laid it on the floor so as to hopefully catch the mess and make clean-up a breeze. It mostly did OK. We then set up a catch behind the items so that, hopefully, the pellets would be caught, and the walls would not be damaged. We got an old film developing tank made of black plastic to hold the objects and then we started out with lighting it with a simple hot light. It was just a bare photo-flood blub, the kind that gets extra hot to the touch and only lasts about six hours. It was rated at 500 watts, so it was rather bright.

Preparing the items

The student provided about two dozen eggs, Christmas ornaments, nuts, pellets and the gun with plenty of C02 cartridges. I provided a block of ice and some extra thick orange Jello. The Jello didn?t work. I thought it?d be more solid than it was even though I made it 4x the density of normal Jello. Anyway? on with the shoot.

These first shots show the egg and the yolk and white parts also being blown to bits. This is due to the slow shutter speed of about ? second. This allowed enough time to show the action and chaos that we were going for. My reasoning on this exposure was to somewhat over expose the object if it were sitting still. I knew that with the explosion the material would be moving throughout the scene, and not be rendering in any one place for very long. So setting it to over exposure was actually a good thing once the motion of the goop was taken into consideration.
I was able to count down from three and then say ?fire? at which time the student fired the pellet gun and I tripped the shutters on his camera and my camera. You see, I was not about to let an opportunity like this go by without my own pictures. I have two hands, I?ll fire two cameras! Plus, it was extra insurance that helped us know that we were absolutely getting the shots.

The featured image for this post is my favorite. It doesn?t show the solid egg at all, it?s just pure blasted bliss.

This next shot is a Christmas tree ornament filled with water. One shot is all we got. The water splashed on the hot light causing it to explode itself due to the extreme heat and with it being splashed with water and all. It?s still kinda cool though!

So, we then switched up our plan and did some stroboscopic images. I used a Canon hot shoe flash and set the strobe function. This is still one exposure but this time it?s two seconds long. And the flash is going off repeatedly throughout this exposure. The student fired the pellet gun and chipped away at the ice block and as it happened we took these exposures getting the ice floating through the air. The flash is quick enough to freeze the action making it feel like there?s lots of exposures blended together in Photoshop, but these are single images.

And then I end here with one final image where we tried the egg with the stroboscopic effect. It?s cool, but not as good. All part of the learning process!

And again with the feature image without the distracting title overlay. Beautiful Oblivion…

These photos were mentioned in the October 25, 2018, episode of the Master Photography Podcast.

All images ? Brent J. Bergherm, All Rights Reserved.


Wow, the new Peak Design travel line is now ready for pre-orders. (Regular orders starting in 2019). I know I want one, I’m inclined to say I want the “Sage” color, but it really needs to be more green and sage like, so maybe black. How about you?