Howard Schatz’s incandescent photo lighting for his Boxer series

September 16, 2010 — 5 Comments

howard schatz's photo lighting for boxer on guess the lighting blog

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram of howard schatz on guess the lighting blog

copyright, Howard Schatz.

This stunning, hyper-dramatic image from Howard’s 2009 “boxer study” has won quite a few awards and garnered slabs of recognition. Though much of the effect was created in-camera using 6 lights, there is a good deal of retouching happening here, too.

Camera: Hasselblad H2 with Leaf Aptus 75 digital back and 80mm lens, set on tripod six feet back. Shot at 1/125, f11, ISO 50.

Lighting: The key light is a medium strip bank at f22 (+2 stops) boomed slightly in front of, and above, the boxer, angled down. Another medium strip bank at f22 (+2 stops) is positioned low and directly in front of him, angled up. This gives the glow on his lower forearms, shorts and gloves. A small strip bank at f22 (+2 stops) is set low, four feet to camera left and behind him, angled up. Another small strip at f22 (+2 stops) is set similarly to camera right. A standard reflector at f22 (+2 stops) is up high four feet to camera left and four feet behind the boxer. Another standard reflector at f22 (+2 stops) is placed identically to camera right.

This setup created a good base of dramatic, powerful lighting, but was tweaked heavily in post production – blowing out the highlights, sharpening, darkening and adding a blueish cast to the shadows.

Comments: Howard ate a breakfast of Wheaties and raw eggs, warmed up with some plyometric circuit training and jumped rope while he fired his camera with a remote trigger. When a medium roller toppled over and caught him above the eye, his producer wanted to call the shoot. Howard told the groomer to cut him and lasted 3 additional setups.

  • DP

    is there some solarizing-type treatment going on in the highlights? there’s some really unnatural dark spots on the shoulders and gloves.

    • i think there’s a whole lot of photoshop going on…

  • Jim

    Wow, I really like this setup. Shall I try to recreate something similar with speedlights? I think so… Very impressive.

    • go for it. and let me know how it turns out.

  • Christal M Chiu

    This is absolutely amazing. I love how dynamic this picture is simply because of the lighting. Every curvature is exaggerated and illuminated because of this brilliant setup. I will definitely try to recreate this soon. Amazing and super inspiring. 🙂