Photographer Stan Russell has shared a really extensive look behind the scenes on his Iron Man Weekly theme shot for us including a video of one of the techniques used to pull off this impressive shot.
A behind the scenes shoot by Stan Russell
I would like to share my BTS of my iron man shot using a mix of practical and digital effects. I usually use a BAAM drain blaster cleaner for the dirt effect, and I think it does a great job. I have used compressed air in the past, and while it does a great job as well, I like the BAAM for a couple of reasons. I first saw it used by @plasticaction on Instagram, and since trying it out, have stuck with it. The main reason I enjoy using it is that I do not have to buy can after can of compressed air, and with the pump system, I can make the blast as low, or as strong as I want. (picture of BAAM blaster)
When I start any shot, I usually like to go in with a plan of what I want to do. It might not be perfect, but it is at least a start. For this shot, I knew I wanted to do a shot of Iron Man taking off, and for that, I would use the blaster to get some nice practical dirt effects of his repulsor blasts hitting the ground. I went to a location that I like to take shots at due to it’s varying landscape. It has some nice risers of stone, with dirt and grass on them as you can see in this picture. I then set-up the figure on a flight stand, and set up the camera to focus on Iron Man himself. I am using a Canon T5, and for this shot, I used a 50mm f1.8 lens. I also used a remote shutter release, so I can trigger the remote while shooting the blaster. (picture of set-up)
My camera settings for this shot were ISO 100, f2.5, 1/2000 shutter speed.
After setting up the figure and camera, and making sure everything is framed correctly, I then placed a pile of dirt in front of the figure. (picture of dirt pile) This is what will be used for the blast effect. I placed it right in front of him so when it blew up, it would be directly in front of him and hopefully look like it is coming from the ground. Once the dirt is set up, I will then pump up the blaster, and place the nozzle directly in front of the pile of dirt, and press the trigger.
When I am shooting like this, I like to shoot in burst mode so I can get a series of pictures. The hardest part of this technique is that you never know what you are going to get. Practical effects are completely random, and you can take 50+ pictures and only get one or two that are good. For this particular shot, I took over 60 photos, are ended up only using 2 for the final shot.
Here is a quick video of the blaster in action.
After taking what seems like an endless amount of pictures, I will then remove the figure, and take a picture of just the environment in case I need to mask anything out in post editing.
I will then take the pictures into Lightroom and do basic photo edits. I enjoy a cinematic feel to my shots, so I tend to make them a little more muted in the colors, especially with the background. After the basic edits in Lightroom, I take the images into Photoshop to start masking out different shots to get a dirt effect that I like. I will then use some digital effects to add the blasters to his hands, and make his eyes and reactor glow. Here you can see the steps I used to add the different layers in Photoshop. (images of photoshop composites).
This is my basic set-up, and I use this for a lot of my action shots. It can be incredibly rewarding to see it all come to life, but it can also be infuriating because you can take a bunch of shots, and none of them work for the effect you are trying to achieve. Just keep giving it a try, and have fun experimenting!
A huge thank you to Stan for taking the time to work on this BTS for us and to go the level that he went to so thank you! Be sure to check out more of Stan’s work over on Instagram @vimlossus and leave a comment below to share your thoughts!