Fantasy Lighting in a Forest with Von Wong

Ever since Benjamin Von Wong took a leap of faith and left his successful career as a engineer to persue his artistic passions, he has kept a legion of die hard fans enchanted by his ability to turn the ordinary into epic. Whether it be organizing complicated pyrotechnics, photographing surreal scenes of ultraviolet models, or chaining models to a shipwreck 25 meters below the surface in Bali, Benjamin has never been interested in being ordinary. In his insanely creative mind, his thought process of "If it's not epic, than what's the point?" has led to some of the most memorable photoshoots in the last several years. Lucky for us, Benjamin always has the foresight to put together a team to create a behind-the-scenes video so his fans can see how this master of illusion creates his art. 

When SmugMug commissioned Benjamin to fly to San Francisco, California for some of their projects, he had the idea to create a fantasy scene in a fog filled forest. Needing elaborate costumes, he enlisted the services of Kicka Custom Designs and quickly assembled a team of four models and numerous hair and makeup artists to make the long drive from Los Angeles. Fstoppers' very own Jaron Schneider was tapped to shoot video, and being as I was an employee of SmugMug at the time, I was given the responsibility of shooting extra footage for Jaron.  

The day was long, cold, and very tiring, but being a part of such a large production, and seeing the energy and enthusiasm Benjamin puts into these shoots was inspiring and educational. I also learned a ton about his lighting styles, which he highlights in great detail in the behind-the-scenes film as well as in the lighting diagrams shown on his blog.

Below are the five photos from the shoot, and as a first hand witness, I can attest that these photos are not created by using Photoshop tricks, but rather creative planning, hard work, and a team of excited assistants who want to be a part of the Von Wong magic. 

Nikon D800E | 70-200mm f/2.8 | 1/250th f3.5 ISO 50

Nikon D800E | 24-70mm f/2.8 | ISO 50 1/100 f/5.6

Nikon D800E | 24-70mm f/2.8 | ISO 200 1/200 f/5

Nikon D800E | Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G | ISO 125 1/250 sec f/6.3

Three Image Pano - Nikon D800E | 24-70mm f/2.8 | ISO 400, 1/100sec f/8.0

Michael Bonocore's picture

Michael is a full time photographer, traveler and workshop teacher based out of San Francisco, California. Michael's passion lies in international photojournalism, which has brought him to lead photography workshops around the globe. Michael has written guest articles for companies such as Matador Networks, SmugMug, and Borrow Lenses.

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Not my cup of tea

brlliant!!! always loved jon's work

Pictures remind me of magic cards - brings me back! Epic video

BAAM! this is amazing to look at. not just he photo. your passion to create! :)

Fantastic work as always Benjamin, so informative with regards to lighting and placement.
Great location and models, I always enjoy your passion and on your shoots. So looking foward to your next one. Thanks for sharing..

That video just gave me renewed inspiration, Benjamin's energy and passion really is contagious.

BVW is one of my favorite photogs right now. Ben, if you're ever in CO, give me a shout. I'll lug gear and hold lights.

Considering the huge production, the result is quite weak. BTW...I love and follow Ben's work.

Sorry to hear you feel that way Roberto. While this shoot didn't have flames or underwater antics, I thought the results were beautiful, creative, and most importantly, exactly what Ben was going for.

Ben is definitely one of the most creative photogs I follow. These images are not bad at all, but I don't feel that they're great either. As I said, considering the production I would expect something more world class. But that is only my opinion.

Funny...I think these photos are understated, but pretty incredible. In other words, I disagree with you, but I can see what you're saying.

Amazing work! And great BTS video!

Amazing work as always, love the mood.
Especially good for inspiration since I'm still planning to go to an old-growth (correct word?) forest this Autumn and was wondering what kind of shots would best fit such a location with people. (the place should look something like this:

Awesome and inspiring shoot. Love it.