To put a delicious piece of chocolate in your mouth is to experience a flavor explosion. That’s what it tastes like. But what does it look like? If you were to photograph it, how would you do it? Here’s how photographer Finn Beales did it.
Finn Beales is an award-winning photographer and director based in the Black Mountains of Wales. Finn established himself as a photographer on the road, mostly focusing on travel and lifestyle photography. Lately, however, he has been spending more and more time in the studio.
“Travel photography means I have to be away from home to work and that’s not always practical with a young family at home,” says Finn. “Studio photography allows me to work when I’m not halfway around the globe. I’m also really enjoying the process of making pictures as opposed to taking them. Responding creatively to a commercial brief is a particularly enjoyable aspect.”
A recent assignment saw Finn being contacted by NomNom Chocolate – an Welch brand specializing in handcrafted chocolate with fresh, seasonal ingredients.
“NomNom is a fun brand to work with. The owner is a young entrepreneur who gladly compares himself to Willy Wonka and his brief to me was very clear: put the magic back into chocolate and try to visualize the impact our flavor combinations deliver when you eat a bar of NomNom.”
That’s when you got the idea to build a Chocolate Cannon?
“Yes. I figured Willy Wonka would probably build a chocolate cannon to combine fresh flavors with his chocolate! I also figured capturing the impact and freezing the ingredients colliding at high speed would result in some great looking imagery.”
How do you do that? How do you build a Chocolate Cannon?
“Lucky enough I have a friend who works at a special effects company in the film industry. I called him up and said I needed a Chocolate Cannon. He didn’t hesitate a second. He loves that kind of stuff!”
What about the lighting? How did you work that part out?
“Well, I knew from the start that I’d need at least two lights – a main light and a rim light. I also knew I’d need something with short enough flash duration to freeze splashes. Also, I knew that I’d need a wide and even light source to be able to light the entire splashes.
“The solution was to use a B1 Location Kit with two different softboxes. Set to Freeze Mode, the B1 can go as fast as 1/19.000 of a second, which was more than enough for what I wanted to do.
“So I had one B1 with a Softbox RFi 1×1.3’ positioned camera left. This was my main light. The other B1 was equipped with a Softbox RFi 1×4’ angled horizontally and positioned behind and to the right of the place of impact. This was my rim light, separating the chocolate and the ingredients from the background.”
You make it sound so easy. What was the hardest part of the shoot?
“The most challenging aspect was the production aspect. Building the Chocolate Cannon, figuring out what mixture of chocolate to use, experimenting with pressure in the cannon, prepping everything in the studio, etcetera…
“Actually, we ended up building a small room in the studio to put the Chocolate Cannon in. This was needed to protect the studio. It was also needed to have full control of the ambient light – a factor that becomes extremely important at the lower power setting that we were using.
“Controlling the ambient light was so important we considered shooting outside and at night. But as I said before, I wanted to control the shoot and get a night’s sleep! I didn’t want to wait for the right light. I didn’t want to take pictures. I wanted to make pictures.”