PHOTO CREDIT:© Timothy Hogan Photography

How I Got That Shot: Timothy Hogan

DECEMBER 08, 2010

Client: Miller High Life
Agency: Landor, San Francisco

When Tosh Hall, creative director at Landor, redesigned the label for Miller High Life, the agency hired Timothy Hogan to make several test shots with the new bottle to develop a look and feel for the packaging. The agency then picked their favorite, and hired him to shoot the brand’s packaging following the same direction.

Hogan created the tests, including this one of the bottle being splashed and some with just a few water droplets on its surface, working with Hall and stylist Brian Byrne in Hogan’s Jewel Street Studios in Brooklyn. “When we went back and did the advertising shots, we were after something specific,” Hogan recalls. “But here, we were in the realm of experimenting.”

Camera: Rollei X-Act with a Hasselblad 528 digital back, and Schneider Macro-Digital 80mm f5.6 lens.

Lights: Hogan used four lights in all, each connected to a Broncolor Grafit A4 pack. Three of these were Broncolor heads, each with a P70 reflector. He placed one at the back, and one on the left and another on the right side of the bottle; the three lights shone through soft, translucent pieces of Plexiglas hung vertically and through a homemade strip bank. “Depending on how far the head is from the Plexiglas, I can alter the reflectivity and the light quality. I can make it brighter in one area and then fall off in another area. I can get a shiny piece of metal to look matte or a matte piece of metal to look shiny, depending on how I manipulate this light.”

He placed the fourth light over the camera. “This one is always a hard, undiffused light source, and that gives a real snap and contrast to the picture.”

He adds, “I usually work from the background first and then work forward in layers. I shoot each light independently to see what each light is doing.”

All the heads were on Broncolor packs powered down to 1/7500th of a second to freeze the water.

Logistics: The bottle was supported from above and below with Plexiglass rods.

For the water splash, Byrne used a recirculating pump, and squeezed water onto a sheet of Plexiglas to achieve a sheeting effect. When working with the malleable medium of water, Hogan notes, “There are slight timing differences, but I know that if I use one tool, the water will react in a certain way. A different tool, depending on its shape, will bend or move the water differently. It’s all about knowing the effect you would like to achieve.” Hogan says the team kept trying a variety of splashes, and continued working until 3am. “You’re experimenting, and that’s what leads you to work late and not even realize it’s late. You’re just having fun.”

Post Production: Was done by Panzia in Brooklyn. The retouching included removing supports, and toning the background color according to Hall’s specifications. “One of the blessings of having the packaging designer on set,” Hogan says, “is that he knows what to look for and specifically the exact hue of gold the background should be.”

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