DPP Home Profiles Jose Manuel Vidaurre: Making A Splash!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Jose Manuel Vidaurre: Making A Splash!

In mastering the art of stopping liquids in motion, advertising photographer Jose Manuel Vidaurre fills a unique niche


This Article Features Photo Zoom


Vidaurre’s interest in art began early when, as a child, he painted and eventually started taking pictures as visual references for his paintings. Gradually, he moved into photography full time, but had no formal training and never worked as a photographer’s assistant. Everything he has learned he has taught himself, leading him to develop his own techniques over the years. Vidaurre’s style has remained consistent even though the technology he uses has changed dramatically. For the most part, the liquids used for each assignment are the real thing, so no fake milk or soda.
The only way to capture this was to synchronize the delay, firing the system when the speed of the carts was at zero and an adjustable braking system stopped the glasses. The moment Vidaurre captures is at the end of the first time the carts stop and both glasses bounce back before colliding again two or three more times. The glasses aren’t moving at all, and that’s why the carbonation inside appears frozen, while the foam is clashing at a very high speed.

Compare the making of that image to a more recent one like soda exploding out of a Coca-Cola bottle. Each of the 20 or so streams of liquid coming out of the bottle’s mouth is a separate shot of real soda propelled by compressed air and later merged digitally to create the explosion. The splash behind the bottle was captured separately and is a composite of about 15 shots. The ice also was shot separately. This took Vidaurre a day to shoot and a few more to complete the digital composition.

Since moving to Miami from Caracas, Venezuela, in 2002, the Spanish-born photographer not only has transitioned to digital, but has completely immersed himself in it. Mastering how to use the technology to capture his stop-motion stills has garnered Vidaurre an extensive and growing base of international clients. This also keeps advancing his expertise because, as each client brings him a new idea, there’s a certain amount of experimentation that he must do to find the right technique. Each shoot comes with its own unique set of artistic and technical challenges that he must figure out.

Keeping It Fresh
Vidaurre’s splashes look real because they are real. He insists on using only natural liquid, so Coca-Cola is Coca-Cola, milk is milk, and beer is beer. He describes his style as “crisp” and “luminous.”

“Everything is real,” Vidaurre says. “There are no acrylic pours or ‘splashes.’ Transparency and detail are taken to the maximum. Lighting is most important for displaying a liquid’s brilliance.”

For opaque liquids, Vidaurre uses direct incident light, and for clear substances, the light is bounced from behind. If possible, he shoots in darkness. It just depends on whether he needs to see the set or he’s using models. When he does shoot with the lights on, the rigging is more difficult because the sensors that trigger his system are connected to the camera and not the lights. In darkness, the shutter can be left open, and the splash triggers the light for that brief moment.

“It’s also important to freeze the movement just enough because if you go too far, the liquids look like plastic,” Vidaurre adds. “There’s no digital illustration in my work. Everything is photographic.”

 

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