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Portion of the cover of Your Business magazine June issue.
Portion of the cover of Your Business magazine June issue.

Your Business magazine

The secrets of the exploding-pop trick Add to ...

Shooting the cover for the June issue of Your Business magazine was no easy feat. Here, in his own words, is how the photographer pulled it off, followed by a 10-second video clip and a series of photos:

It started with a call from this photo editor who was talkin’ crazy about some exploding pop and a CEO who was going to douse himself with his own product.

This lead to the following series of events:

1. Research! Research! Research! How on Earth do you get a shot of pop shooting out of a bottle? After YouTube-ing “exploding pop,” a wealth of videos popped up (no pun intended) of violent explosions out of two-litre plastic pop bottles with Mentos as the catalyst. The idea is to drop a Mentos mint into a recently opened two-litre bottle of pop. The Mythbusters guys even had a name for the reaction in their YouTube video: NUCLEATION. Hmmm. Seemed the obvious way to go.

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2. Testing! Testing! Testing! Clare Jordan, the intrepid photo editor, arranged for a bunch of empty Pop Shoppe bottles to be sent to our laboratory for testing. We cleaned out two stores of Mentos (roughly 30 rolls). Bought a total of 36 two-litre bottles of pop of various flavours and content (i.e. sugar vs sugarless). Based on all of our testing, our best results occurred from, in order: diet colas, diet tonic water, diet root beer, cola, root beer and then cream soda. The most disappointing result occurred with orange pop - not sure why. We also discovered that the two-litre plastic bottle was the benchmark container size. We tried using the 355 ml bottle supplied to us, to no avail. There was no way any amount of Mentos would provide the nucleation we were looking for. That was going to be a problem, considering the story idea.

3. Refining! Refining! Refining! We theorized that if we had holes cut into the bottom of our Pop Shoppe bottles and then fastened them to the spout of our two-litre bottles, we'd have the makings of a winner: we'd have the nucleation we needed and have it come out of the right bottle. We finally found a company willing and able to cut our holes (not an easy thing to do and not too many glass cutting companies in Toronto are equipped to do so): Cascade Crystal. It was fantastic at accommodating our request and doing it on such short notice.

4. More testing! More testing! More testing! We fastened our drilled Pop Shoppe bottles to our two-litre bottles and commenced testing by dropping Mentos mints into them. It worked beyond our expectations. And it was repeatable. The actual shoot took about two-thirds of a day with set-up at the bottling facility. There was very little compositing required of the bottles and spray in the final shot. We did, of course, have to add a surface and some incidental spray.

Watch a video here:

Outtake from the Pop Shoppe shoot

Special to The Globe and Mail

Hamin Lee is a Toronto-based photographer and owner of Hamin Lee Photography Inc.

Here's a series of photos documenting the process, ending with the final cover:

Final cover of June issue of Your Business magazine.

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