blog by

rob kircher

Saturday, August 30, 2008


Again inspired by a challenge on DPReview I set out to tell a large story with the most minimalist image I could. Wanting to do something different then most, I thought about what I could photograph that the other participants wouldn't.

What to photograph?? Hmmmmm...

A Grenade!!! Who on earth would photograph a grenade. But wait what's the story? Destruction!!!!

Where on earth are you going to find a grenade?
Why the the local army surplus store of course. Didn't know you could buy a grenade? Whelp you sure can!!! No, not a real grenade; a hollowed out pineapple that used to be a real grenade.

While I was there I also picked up 2 50cal cartages thinking it may add some interest to my photo.

Now how to shoot these items. I need something dark, something that makes the objects stand out. My original idea was the idea of destruction so I was going to add some broken glass to the photo but as I positioned the grenade and 50cals on my black illustrator board I realized that adding more to the image would move it away from the minimalist idea so I nixed the glass and took a few test shots. Well I liked what I got and I sent the test out to a couple of family member who both remarked that to them the image said War. Right about the same time I had one of those eureka moments maybe even close to an epiphany and thought... War.... Yeah... Yeah that's the ticket... What larger a subject to represent than WAR.

So with that in mind I set up the shot one more time making a few changes from the original test shot and came up with this.

1D Mark III w/ EF 50mm f/1.8, 1/2000 s, f/2.8, 50 mm, iso 50

I like it!!!

But the composition leans so heavily to the right... Of course it does because after all we all know its the right wing who are the war mongers in our country don't we. ;-) Kidding aside, I did heavily load the composition to the right in an effort to depict, somehow, the current political atmosphere that is prevalent in this election season.

The setup was actually quite simple. Once again, following Mike's mantra that any place can be a studio, I set thing up right on my coffee table in the family room (see photo below). Placing a black illustration board down on the table, I positions the grenade and 50cals the way I wanted and then looked at the items to figure out the lighting. The first attempt used only one flash but this time I wanted to add just a hint of color so I went to a 2 flash setup. My key light is a 550EX flash down low and to the right. To cast a bit of red I used a secondary light, a 430ex with red gel, from above, behind and to the left. Both lights are set manually to 1/1 and fired with my 580ex on camera with the flash off. The line of lights in the background is actually the reflection of the key light off a brass fire place door behind the setup. At first this was a "mistake" but I liked how the reflection stopped the eye at the top of the frame and brings the focus toward the grenade so I left it in. To black out all the ambient light I cranked the shutter speed way up to 1/2000 and the ISO down to 50. This way anything not lit by the flashes would be black. Once set, I simply laid down on my couch and fired away.

Who says you can't lie down on the job. ;-) Sorry I just couldn't resist.


  1. Very cool. And now I can tell those are bullets. :-) I especially like the pix you take of the set up. Very interesting to see how much it takes to get those cool photos.

  2. Thanks Les... I have to give credit to mike for the setup shots. He started it. ;-)

    That said, its common place on many of the how to websites.


  3. Very cool. Good description, too.

    Now what does it say about me that I didn't even think to ask where you got the weaponry! I just figured you already had that stuff lying about the house! Heh-heh.

  4. Now Mike, I may lean further to the right than you but I'm not some sort of Armageddon nut stock piling water, gasoline, and explosives. ;-)

    Actually, I happened upon the emptied ammo in my many trips to Ranger Surplus for play props. So when I idea came to me I knew just were to get the props.

    Thanks for the comments.


  5. You're right... that better describes Bill!

  6. I just want to note for the record that I didn't say that. :-)

  7. Well I didn't think to ask where he got the stuff either and he's my brother. You would think that I would know that grenades are not considered knick knacks in the household of Rob. But no, I just commented on the pic. I wonder what else he could bring into his house without arousing any suspicion from me.

  8. I agree with leslie... I really appreciate the setup shots. Especially on a gritty, solid, image like this.