Instruments from Inside: the Inside Story
Unless you’ve been living under a rock these last few weeks, you must have seen the beautiful photos of Björn Ewers’ Instruments from Inside series. I was so smitten by these photos and so puzzled about how they could have been realised that I emailed Björn with some questions, which he kindly agreed to answer:
BF: How did the original project come to be? Is this an idea you had been exploring as a photographer for a while and that appealed to the Berliner Philharmonic Orchestra PR people, or did the idea come together during the assignment?
BE: The Berliner Philharmoniker asked the Berlin based Agency Scholz & Friends to come up with a campaign for the chamber orchestra. They had a long and a very successful relationship with the agency before I worked for them as an Art Director. It usually takes some time to get a good creative concept for a campaign, but this idea which I developed with the copywriter Mona Sibai came up very fast, like 10 minutes after the brief. It was so obvious that I was wondering why no one else had had this idea already.
And then I looked up some photographers portfolios and I was totally stoked by Mierswa Kluska’s. I love their strong style. The do a lot of still life and fashion photography on a very high level. Mierswa Kluska and me first tried together to realize the concept using purely CGI because of budget issues. It looked good but not real enough. So we started all over again with real instruments. The campaign originally produced for just the chamber orchestra turned out so well that it became the campaign of the house for a full year.
How did you choose which instruments to shoot?
Well it was quite hard to find classical instruments that look interesting enough from the inside. So the ones we chose were the only ones of interest. Maybe a piano would have been interesting.
Which kind of photo body and (especially) lenses were you using (this may differ between instruments, I guess)?
We shot the images with a Hasselblad plus a digital back and a wide-angle lens. That’s what gave the images this “hall” feeling. The f-stop was 22. With the llve-view we could control what was going on inside, especially for the cello.
How did you insert the lenses inside the instruments, in particular for the violin and cello?
We cut the instruments on one side to have a look into them. And there was an instrument maker round the corner of Mierswa Kluska’s Studio. He was repairing an old cello. So we had the opportunity to rent this beautiful cello with an open body. We just put the camera into it and closed the cover. We could see everything that was going on inside through a (very bad) live view and did a lot of trial shots.
How did you manage the lighting inside the instruments?
Well the lighting was quite simple. We only had adjustment light from the strobe. And a long shutter speed to get that ambient light from the lightsource. That gave us images a very natural feel. To get the haze inside, that was a challenge. But then Markus Kluska came up with the idea of just blowing in some cigarette smoke and expose for about 4 seconds. And it looked great!
How much post processing did you apply? Did you use techniques such as HDR?
There was some post on it but not much. Just evening out the looks of the shots and cleaning up some glue spots that just looked nasty and deterred from the vintage look we were after. No HDR.
Which instruments proved the hardest to do and why?
The flute was challenging. Everything was mirroring inside. So that was mainly trial and error. In the end it’s one of my favourite next to the cello. I love the color and the mirroring light.
Will you be doing more instruments (is this a continuing series) and if yes, do you know which yet?
No there will be no more images from instruments from inside. That was the assignment, and it was a great experience doing it.
Were you surprised at the response on the internet to these photos?
I was super surprised by the response. The funny thing is that the photos have been up for 2 years in my Behance portfolio and got about 500 likes before Behance posted the project on their front-page (thanks, Behance!!!) The blog monster took over and two days later it had about 3500 likes and bunch of blog and news request filled my inbox. Breathtaking how blogs can push things forward. In the future I will try harder to publish more of my works that way.
Can people buy prints of these photos somewhere or will that be possible in the future?
There are a lot of requests for prints, but they are no longer available. The Berliner Philharmoniker sold them for a long time but they are now out of stock…