Throw on some colour

James Pater­son ex­plains how to launch pow­der paint at your sub­jects for bold, colour­ful por­traits with plenty of punch

NPhoto - - Nikon Skills -

Things were bound to get a lit­tle messy in this month’s Big Pro­ject. Throw­ing pow­der paint re­peat­edly over a per­son may re­sult in vivid, dy­namic por­traits like this one, but it doesn’t half make a mess in the process! Your clothes, cam­era equip­ment, the floor and any­thing nearby is likely to end up with a fine dust­ing of paint, so you’ll need all the pro­tec­tive cov­ers, dust sheets and tar­pau­lins you can lay your hands on.

You’ll also need a suit­able, dark place to shoot the por­trait. We used an un­der­ground car park be­low the N-Photo of­fice. A sim­i­larly spa­cious garage or work­shop might be an op­tion, or fail­ing that, wait for night then shoot out­side in the dark (just make sure that the ground is not damp, as it’ll make the paint very tricky to clear up).

The end re­sults are worth all the ef­fort. Pow­der paint looks in­cred­i­ble when back­lit with flash, and if both the tim­ing of your shot and the an­gle of the throw are right, you can cap­ture the mo­ment the coloured paint ex­plodes across your sub­ject in per­fect clar­ity. You don’t need lots of ex­pen­sive cam­era equip­ment for this tech­nique, ei­ther; all you need is a cou­ple of Speed­lights, and a means to trig­ger them off-cam­era.

Find­ing a will­ing sub­ject may prove more tricky, though chil­dren might have a great time do­ing it. If you’re af­ter a more glam­orous re­sult, it might be worth book­ing a pro­fes­sional model (good sites like Model May­hem al­low you to con­nect with mod­els di­rect). It’s not a pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence to have pow­der paint launched at you, but if you’re paid to be there, it doesn’t seem quite so mean! Also, bring along some clothes for them to wear so they won’t mess up their own.

Then there’s the most im­por­tant part: the paint. You can or­der spe­cial­ist ‘Holi’ throw­ing pow­der (named af­ter the colour­ful In­dian fes­ti­val, and avail­able in a wide range of colours) or non-toxic tem­pera paints on­line. Al­ter­na­tively, you can make your own with food colour­ing and flour. Read on to dis­cover how...

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