Making the Plunge

San Francisco-based photographer Ryan Heffernan took these dramatic shots for a Japan Rags ad campaign. What looks like a freeze-frame photograph captured with split-second timing is actually a composite of three different stills.

After seeing Heffernan’s underwater photos on an online stock photo site, Agence Antidote asked him to fly to Paris to shoot a model in denim jeans plunging into clear water. The ads message is that Japan Rags jeans are made without excessive use of water. The shoot was done in a scuba facility with a viewing window, so hot lights could be directed into the tank. Heffernan worked inside the pool, using a 35mm camera protected by underwater housing.

While the selection of actual photographs was exhilarating to view, none was exactly quite right. Each time the model dived into the water the splash generated so many bubbles that sometimes the “product” – i.e., the jeans – could barely be seen. Agence Antidote chose the body pose it wanted from the different frames, and the final image is a composite of three different photographs that Heffernan and a retoucher merged into one awesomely natural scene.