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Breaking plates – behind the scenes

A couple of days ago, I posted the following shot from my dangerous kitchen series:


I thought it might be fun to show some shots of how the plate-breaking part of all this actually went. :-)

I shot the plates in a studio; the setup looked something like this:


The plate was suspended from two A-clamps, which were hanging from a overhead bar, going diagonally across the set. There’s a black v-flat behind the plate, and also one to the left (in the direction of impact); the former to provide a near-black background, and the latter to stop the pieces of the plate from flying too far around the studio.

For lighting, I used two Nikon SB-800s; one on a stand you can see on the left, peeking over the black flat, and then another over to camera right. Both were positioned to mimic the direction and ratio of the lighting used for the model, already shot in a kitchen. I used pocket wizards for triggering them. I shot a single frame per plate, using a Nikon D3.

This shot shows the detail of how the plate was hit:


My assistant used the flat head of a hammer to strike the plate, and had his arm covered with a black towel.

There were laser and sound triggers available, but I started out clicking the shutter manually. The whole process turned out to be highly addictive (can’t tell you how much fun it is to break plates like this!), so I never ended up stopping to set up an automatic trigger. In retrospect, I probably should have, but in the end I ended up with a shot I could use. Out of the 14 plates, I missed one completely, and the rest you can see below (click for larger):

I had a total of 14 plates; 10 fairly heavy dinner plates from a restaurant supply house (top 3 rows in pic below), and 4 cheap Correlle plates from Walmart (bottom rows). As you can see, they broke in very different ways.

The Correlle plates took me off guard – both because I happened to catch two shots where the plate has just shattered but still in the shape of a plate, and also because of how violently they shatter. The mess in the studio was pretty well contained at first, but once we got to these last 4 plates, we had little shards of plate everywhere!

All the shots were at 70mm (to match perspective with the shot of the model), at f/11. It was even one of those rare moments when I used a protective filter on my lens, hoping to protect it from flying pieces of plate. :-)

Anyway, hope this is interesting for some folks!

(note – some of you reading this via RSS may have seen this post before the referenced photo was posted…sorry about that, WordPress user error. :-)

2 Responses to “Breaking plates – behind the scenes”

  1. wózki dzieci?ce Says:

    Very interesting and inspiring. Great work.

  2. Urban Domeij Says:

    Evidently, the cheap Walmart plates were not china but tempered glass.