Behind the scenes with Von Wong’s take on the Cheap Camera Challenge (VIDEO)


posted Monday, March 3, 2014 at 1:15 PM EST


Ben Von Wong is a photographer who is as much famed for his boisterous personality as he is for his innovative shooting style. DigitalRev's "Pro Tog, Cheap Camera Challenge" pits professional photographers against incredibly low level cameras. So what happens when Von Wong uses an entry level point-and-shoot to record some pyrotechnics? Just about everything that you can imagine goes wrong!

The Cheap Camera Challenge has long been an excellent example of how a good photographer can make even the crummiest of cameras work for them. In this case, Von Wong was saddled with a low-end Ricoh (we're not sure what model exactly), which completely lacked manual controls. It's a testament to his own skills that he managed to figure out a vaguely reliable way of fooling the metering so that he could boost shutter speeds enough to capture flame plumes.

It didn't help that everything else along the way went wrong, too. They were shooting in an unusually cold day, on a windy beach. The torch for lighting the flame didn't make it to the shoot, the air puffer to blow the accelerant was broken, and the camera kept getting splashed. And then, in keeping with the theme of the challenge, Von Wong edited the whole thing in Snapseed using his phone.

But even with all those problems, the final images? They came out looking pretty interesting. They were extremely noisy, but certainly a lot better looking than most people could tackle with such limited equipment!