2016-02-06 ‘I need gear that works – no matter how hard I push it’
Following the announcement of a new strategic partnership, Hasselblad and DJI, the leader in camera drone technology, are launching a compelling series of features and interviews with some of the most innovative artists working in imaging today. Creator’s Choice will present a snapshot of the person behind the work and their unique vision brought to life using Hasselblad and DJI professional imaging products.
Former gymnast Thomas Morel (28) is a master at freezing frantic life. His mission is always to seize the moment as the camera captures it – in a true recording of a slice of time.
Thomas (already twice nominated for a prestigious Hasselblad Masters Award) first picked up a Hasselblad at age 18, two years after the Morel family moved to live by a Norwegian fjord to start an organic farming business.
Today he runs a successful studio in Bergen, has a base in New York City – and counts The International Olympic Committee, The New York City Ballet and The Norwegian National Opera as clients.
Now Thomas plans to fully capitalise on the new Hasselblad/DJI strategic partnership that enables him to exploit the latest technology from two world-leading organisations.
He says: ‘As a professional I need gear that works no matter how hard I push it. I have been using Hasselblad technology for my high-speed work for many years. These are tools I just cannot live without. The Hasselblad central shutter system means I can fully exploit high-speed flash options and the cameras themselves provide me with image files with almost limitless resolution. This is a system that just works flawlessly. Repeatedly.’
He adds: ‘The Inspire 1 Pro professional film-making platform is also a piece of equipment I very quickly fell in love with.
Extremely intuitive to use, it offers a point of view that provides unlimited creative possibilities to document my way of working. Being able to stand at one point and simultaneously experience the world from the eye of the Inspire, high up in the sky, is truly groundbreaking. I am especially impressed by the extreme stability of the camera, even though I had to fly it pretty close to its limits regarding altitude, temperature and speed. Just like Hasselblad, it always performs and produces perfect results.’
Two worlds colliding
Thomas likes to take an object or phenomenon out of context to create new expression and perspective. He challenges the viewer to reconsider what they really know about the world. Using high-speed flashes and cameras, his work is largely composed of ‘impossible’ shots, or moments of everyday life rarely seen or captured on camera.
For Creator’s Choice, Thomas combined his action montage technique of freezing an athlete in motion using the Hasselblad H4D-50 and H5D-60 medium format cameras and a strong external light source with an extremely short flash duration, in locations around Feios (a village by the southern shore of the Sognefjorden, Norway ) alongside the new perspective offered by the DJI Inspire 1 Pro.
In Two Worlds Colliding Thomas places a kayaker at the top of the Myrkdalen mountains and follows him as he makes his way down to the almost-frozen waters at its foot. At select places in his path, the kayaker is frozen in motion to create a surreal still image of what is a moving vehicle.
He explains: ‘The first scene I had planned was a kayaker shooting through a cloud of fine powder snow. To do this, and simultaneously document it by shooting video with the Inspire, was challenging as I tend to completely disappear in my own little bubble when I set off to capture a photograph. Each scene requires a lot of conceptual planning and a lot of practical preparations for a resulting image that matches my vision. Luckily, the Inspire is so easy to use that it can just be hovering in the right position and stay there while I do my thing.’
‘It is not about luck’ ‘I found a good location together with the Red Cross folks of Myrkdalen Alpine Centre, and there I set up the studio strobes to be ready when the kayaker rocketed by. It took a few tries, but eventually I got the exact look and crispness that I needed in the shot. It is not about luck. If it’s not good enough, I just keep going until I get what I want. Every detail is planned – not because it necessarily honours ‘truth’, but because I find it to be the most appealing visual expression.’
‘For the second scene’ says Thomas, ‘I wanted to capture the kayaker in the midst of a 3 metre drop, but because of the extreme temperatures, there were simply no drops that could have been pulled off safely without the risk of hitting solid ice at the bottom. So, in a change of plan, one of the paddlers scouted this location, where we also shot the rest of the river shots with the Inspire 1 Pro.”
Notes Thomas: ‘The third scene is really complicated. Capturing a shot like this requires many days of trial and error, laying in ice-cold water when the current swipes you everywhere but where you want to be. For this image, I used a Hasselblad camera in an underwater housing, custom-built for the system, with integrated cable and hot-shoe functionality to enable communication with the strobes that are positioned above water. One of the main challenges was that the kayak didn’t go deep enough into the water to show in a part of clear water that I had highlighted with the strobes. Finally, I got it to work by filling the kayak over halfway with water. Poor guy, but he didn’t complain even once.’
Creator’s Choice features will provide an insight into how high-end professionals embrace powerful Hasselblad and DJI imaging technology to bring their work to life. Stay tuned and follow @Hasselblad and @DJI.