Eric Ogden’s lighting for Penelope Cruz portrait

September 10, 2010 — 7 Comments

eric ogden's photo lighting of penelope cruz on guess the lighting blog

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram of penelope cruz on guess the lighting blog

copyright, Eric Ogden

This highly cinematic and dramatic fine-art portrait of Penelope Cruz tells a million stories, each one as haunting as you care to make it. It was created with 3 lights.

Camera: Mamiya RZ67 with 90mm lens and Kodak Portra VC 400 ASA film, set on a tripod 8 feet back. Shot at 1/125, f8, ISO 400.

Lighting: Eric considers shadow and darkness additional “characters” in his images – as important (if not more) than the subject. The key light is a medium octabank at f8 positioned outside the window and out of frame to camera left. I only call this light the “key” because it’s responsible for illuminating Penelope’s face. A gridded, 7” reflector with a straw-colored gel at f8 1/2 lights her back from the waist up. It’s placed just out of frame to camera right near the back wall. A silver umbrella with a straw-colored warming gel at f8 sits hidden outside to camera right of the window aimed at the hanging foliage and ground. Penelope’s reflection was added in post.

Comments: After Eric served a specially-prepared dinner of duelos y quebrantos, Almodóvar’s muse got into character by reflecting on what life may have been like as Penelope Cruz-Cruise.

  • Is there a CTB gel in the mix somewhere? The floor has blue light on it, as does the reflection of her dress.

    • James, there very well may be a sheet of cooling gel on that key light. I was thinking the cement floor and wall had a blueish cast to begin with (and Penelope’s face was pretty neutral), but you might be right. Nice eye.

  • DP

    How the heck was her reflection added in post? Another camera firing simultaneously on the mirror side?

    I’m just wondering why you assumed they didn’t just use the actual reflection. The second window has been opened at an angle for what I am assuming is reflection-kill.

    • hey there, DP. My guess is that eric used a different shot where penelope’s face was turned slightly more toward camera, masked her body out, flopped it in photoshop, then blended the opacity to make it look like a reflection. It doesn’t seem we’d be able to see so much of her back (and the back of her head) in the window if it was a true reflection.

      Anyone else have any thoughts on that?

      • DP

        Hmmm, I could see using a real reflection from a different shot with a different angle to the head, but you’ll have a hard time convincing me that they took her actual body and flipped it. Her face would have turned too much into the shadows if she turned toward camera that much.

        Speaking from AD experience, if someone said “we will do it in post,” they would probably get slapped and banished from on-set lunch. That’s just my two cents. I really love this blog! Just happy to contribute to the dissection.

  • Van

    I like the shot. Very cool. Curious, what is straw-colored gel, like what color? I appreciate the details, f/8 and location of lights, but what are the lights, and power settings for distances and types use, i.e. Octabank. Thanks

    • A Rosco straw gel comes in different varieties and warms up the light (lowers the color temperature). As far as guessing the actual brand of lights, that’s beyond my psychic abilities. And it really doesn’t matter. As long as your getting the same meter readings, any brand will do.