Sport chalk explosion

tpatana

EOS 5D Mark IV
Nov 1, 2012
1,540
265
So, I had great idea. I know this gal who runs a kickboxing gym. I told her I want to rub chalk on a bag, so that when she kicks on the bag it'll send out cloud of chalk. Take picture. Profit.

Well, the problem was, the amount of chalk flying was barely visible. Pretty much had to pixel peep to find any. I was hoping for ~100x more than what actually happened.

Has anyone done that successfully? How? What did I do wrong?

I ended up using photoshop to add the effect.
 

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Mikehit

EOS R6
Jul 28, 2015
3,313
502
I vey much like this idea and I think it is worth persevering. The amount of dust is probably fine, but the only effective 'chalk dust' shots I have seen have a black and/or simple dark colour background with offset lighting - here you are fighting not only against bright windows but also a complex background.

I have googled 'photo chalk dust gymnast' as examples (this page includes a a boxer and gym bag):

http://www.offset.com/search/chalk+dust


Maybe you need to have your back to the window to illuminate her with backcloth and a flash behind the bag (maybe 1/4 power or even less) to illuminate the dust. Get it right and I think you will both be very happy with the outcome.
 

mnclayshooter

I love shooting - clay pigeons and photos!
Oct 28, 2013
314
0
Minnesota, USA
We actually did almost this exact shot for a karate instructor's portfolio- I don't have rights to share it with you on the internet as I wasn't the photog, and it was used in a private usage.

What we did: It's a little hazy - as we tried a LOT of different things to get this to work, and I don't recall clearly which was the "Winner"...

We set up a small cloth beanbag-like bag that had the corners cut off and small slits cut in the sides and adhered it to the surface that was being struck. I think we used an old sock that was cut off and sewn mostly shut with some holes cut in it if I'm remembering correctly - maybe even a bit of nylon stocking??? The bag was filled loosely with chalk - I'll be honest, I think we ended up substituting corn starch for the chalk in order to achieve the "explosive" effect we were after. The key was loose packing the chalk substance as it would then billow out of the openings when the impact occurred. The idea behind using the bag was to have a LOT more chalk than what would simply stick to a surface.

I bet you could use something as simple as a small paper envelope to achieve the same thing...

We got the idea from an old college prank we'd play on each other... put a few folds in a manilla envelope length-wise, puff the envelope up using the folds as reinforcement, add some glitter to the opening, slide the opening under a closed dorm-room door and then stomp on it to create a magically festive atmosphere inside the room.

Glitter: The herpes of craft supplies. Once you get it, you can't get rid of it.
 

tpatana

EOS 5D Mark IV
Nov 1, 2012
1,540
265
Mikehit said:
Maybe you need to have your back to the window to illuminate her with backcloth and a flash behind the bag (maybe 1/4 power or even less) to illuminate the dust. Get it right and I think you will both be very happy with the outcome.
I had speedlite 580 at 1/4 behind her :) (see the light on her hair), but I think the problem was we couldn't get enough chalk to stick on the bag, so there wasn't much to go flying when she kicked. By naked eye I thought nothing was coming, only pixel peeping I saw there was tiny cloud but nothing for the effect I was hoping for.
 

Mikehit

EOS R6
Jul 28, 2015
3,313
502
tpatana said:
Mikehit said:
Maybe you need to have your back to the window to illuminate her with backcloth and a flash behind the bag (maybe 1/4 power or even less) to illuminate the dust. Get it right and I think you will both be very happy with the outcome.
I had speedlite 580 at 1/4 behind her :) (see the light on her hair), but I think the problem was we couldn't get enough chalk to stick on the bag, so there wasn't much to go flying when she kicked. By naked eye I thought nothing was coming, only pixel peeping I saw there was tiny cloud but nothing for the effect I was hoping for.
From what I can see in your image I don't think there is much wrong with the amount of dust, the problem is that it is obscured by the background and if keep the same background you will always have that problem unless you create so much dust that the effect is lost.

However, mnclayshooter has some interesting ideas. Maybe a loose-weave pad filled with chalk dust taped to the side of the bag and is the target for the athlete (you could photoshop it out if it is too obvious). Something like cut-off ladies tights, but rock climbers also use chalk pads with textured surface that hold dust on the surface but the weave also lets powder through.
Also experiment with position - can you get an angle where the chalk is taped to the profile of the bag (this would mean the athlete is also kicking side-on) or on the nearside of the bag (the athlete's back would be facing the camera). It depends what is important - the athlete with the chalk emphasising the power of the kick, or the explosion itself with the athlete effectively playing a bit-part. I quite like the angle you have here and apart from the background the lighting is actually very good.
 

tpatana

EOS 5D Mark IV
Nov 1, 2012
1,540
265
Mikehit said:
From what I can see in your image I don't think there is much wrong with the amount of dust,
So this is the photoshopped version. The original version has <1% of that amount :)