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Collaboration with Marshmallow Laser Feast’s ‘Forest’

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Last summer (July 31, 2014) I was given the Mamiya Leaf Credo 50 prior to its release for some testing. The Credo 50 is a medium format camera that works in high ISO and produces outstanding results using up to ISO 6400! The images here were taken with ISO ranging from 400 to 3200.

Round about the same time my good friends at Marshmallow Laser Feast had their ‘Forest’ installation at the Barbican’s Digital Revolution exhibition.

We decided to play around a little bit and see what we come up with.

What you see here are variations of long exposures taken inside the installation’s room. The exposures vary from few seconds to 30. We used different methods to achieve the resulting images.

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Links:
Marshmallow Laser Feast.
Marshmallow Laser Feast’s ‘Forest’ installation at the Barbican’s Digital Revolution exhibition.
Mamiya Leaf Credo 50.

Ron Beeri / MIDBAR: New juggling video

I’m happy to share a new juggling video we filmed earlier this month and managed to finish the editing for a quick release.
The video is called MIDBAR, the Hebrew word for ‘desert’.
It was filmed at the Israeli desert (Ramon Crater and Dead Sea area) during a 2 day trip in April 2015 using Canon 5D MK III.

Juggling: Ron Beeri
Editing: Ori Roth
Filming & Directing: Ben Hopper

Music: ‘Seven Seas’, by Avishai Cohen
From the album Seven Seas (2010, Parlophone / Warner)
Published by Sony / ATV Publishing / Gadu Music

Interview for Russian website Cultural Evolution

Ben Hopper

I’m happy to share an interesting slightly more technical/photography oriented interview I’ve done for the Russian website “Cultural Evolution” last February.
You can find the English version below or head to their website and see the original post here.

7 questions for a photographer / Ben Hopper

How many photos do you need to take in order to get a good shot?
It really depends on what and who I’m photographing. It can be one photo and it can be a 1000. Sometimes I need to take 200 photos in order to let the subject get used to the camera and me. Some people I shoot have never been in front of a camera like that so most of the first photos will be quite bad but I have to take them to get to the good ones which appear towards the end of the shoot.

3 best photos you have taken recently
There’s no such thing as ‘best’ for me. But I can select 3 of my favourites. 3 that I’m more satisfied with.

Which kind of cameras do you use and what is your favorite photography accessory?
I mainly use Canon 5D MK II and MK III and Mamiya Leaf Credo 80 and 50. I really like the 55mm f2.8 lens on the Credo 80 body. It’s equivalent to about 35mm on DSLR full frame. There’s something very intimate about this lens when shooting portraits with it. It’s also my favourite lens for landscapes which I hardly photographed before using the Credo system. The file quality is incredible. Really gives a whole new meaning to each image you take. There’s a weight to these fragments. Otherwise the Canon 24-70mm L f2.8 has been a favourite for years. Best lens for my performance work; circus and dance. That or the Canon 70-200mm L f2.8.

Which is your most frequently used Photoshop tool, plug-in, action set etc.?
I use everything in the “Basic” panel on Adobe Lightroom as well as the “Clarity” on Lightroom quite a lot. I really love cranking up the curves. Boosting the image to its limits. I’ve also been getting more and more addicted with inverting photos into negatives. I mainly do it in Lightroom now and playing around with the RAW files. There’s a whole new project I’m starting to work with nowadays, photographing full body tattoos in negatives using the Credo 80.

The first photographer who comes to your mind and why?
Manuel Vason. Manuel is a friend and pioneer in performance photography. He’s one of the only photographers I know that I can look at most of his work and think ‘I wish I took that photo’.

Your advice and some tips for a beginner photographer
Be true to yourself. Don’t copy. Be unique. Photograph what you truly love. Don’t be afraid to contact people / magazines / blogs about your work. Don’t wait till people approach you, is what I’m saying…

Be polite and patient. It takes years. Be grateful too, the camera you have in your hands can open a lot of doors. Don’t abuse this power.

What would you photograph, if you were able to travel through time and space?
George Carlin.

Interview for Mamiya Leaf

I’ve had the pleasure talking to Mamiya Leaf, makers of “Credo 80” – an 80 mega pixel wonder camera I used to photograph my recent project “Natural Beauty”.

Ben Hopper: “It’s like she’s saying ‘I’m confident with my body and I don’t care what you think.'”

London-based Ben Hopper is a consummate fine-art professional performance-focused photographer, with an unstoppable creative energy. End of last year, he started working with the Mamiya Leaf Credo 80 for personal projects. Projects that ‘perhaps wouldn’t usually include the usage of medium format cameras.’

Probably his most-seen work today is the project, “Natural Beauty,” a series of beautiful women shot with arm raised, revealing armpit hair. These images, which were recently published in the Huffington Post, led to so many people trying to access his web site that they literally crashed not only his site, but that of his service provider! The project was grabbed by the biggest publications worldwide bringing millions of views combined.
(original post)

I’d actually been thinking about and experimenting with this project for a few years — since i started doing photography,” Ben told us. “It actually started as a joke. I was hanging out with friends: artists, musicians, painters, filmmakers, and I said, ‘look at all the work that’s really taken off — that’s focused on repetitive subjects. It’s almost as if someone does something so many times they will begin to get recognition for it.

So I thought, ‘what if I get beautiful women showing armpit hair?’ It’s a really strong subject, because it’s such a contrast. You show this beautiful woman who’s so confident, like she’s saying, ‘I’m confident with my body and I don’t care what you think.’ It’s a contrast between conventional beauty and this truly unconventional look. Some people have criticized it saying the models were too beautiful or too skinny or wear makeup, pluck eyebrows and so on — but that’s what helps create the contrast — cognitive dissonance.

For this project, the Mamiya Leaf Credo 80 was a natural choice, because the files are more flexible, and in case we will exhibit these images, we can really push the printing size.

What does Ben have to say to someone who wants to be a photographer? Who wants to pursue it as a livelihood or as a life’s work?

Just do what you love. Do what makes you happy and try not to create work you think other people will like. When people do something they love doing and enjoy doing, other people can feel that passion in the work — it’s more genuine.

Everything that I’ve done that is personal, for myself, has worked. Like this latest project Natural Beauty — it was something I’d thought about and wanted to do, and it went viral. So be true to yourself. And you will find you’re getting hired because of your personal work. Do the stuff that will pay the rent, and keep dreaming up new ideas for yourself.

To date, Ben’s other projects have included a developing collaboration based on the principle of Cymatics with beatboxer and artist Reeps One, in which Reeps One’s voice was connected to a speaker and images were shot showing what happens to a thin film of water sitting on the speaker, as it’s being rippled through by the sound frequency. This project was a part of Reeps One’s solo exhibition in March. Read more about this project here.

Ben is also planning many other projects, from naked masked people in different outdoor locations to unusually posed fully nude physical performers covered in body paint and different powders in his studio — and for that, he believes that the medium format approach makes the most sense, “because we have better details nicer depth of field and more resolution.” Read more about this project here.

It was a very simple decision to choose the Mamiya Leaf Credo. The image quality is so much better than what I can achieve with the 35 mm — it’s not even a question! The resolution, the depth of field — it’s just way more beautiful.

I appreciate the differences that the Credo makes. For example, the Credo is much slower. I’m used to shooting so many more frames with the 35mm DSLR. And the Credo forces me to shoot slower. There are simply less frames per minute. It forces me to concentrate, to slow down. It’s almost a meditative kind of thing.

You can see the original interview here.