Art Streiber gets all Hitchcock on us with his lighting of Seth Rogen

September 21, 2012 — 9 Comments

Art Streiber's photo lighting of Seth Rogen on guess the lighting blog

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram of seth rogen on guess the lighting

carey grant in north by northwest cropduster scene on guess the lighting blog

copyright, Art Streiber.

If you haven’t seen Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, get yourself a Netflix account and block out tomorrow night for some old time movie watching (two bowls of popcorn should do the trick). The crop duster scene is riveting. And demonstrates that, in 1959, a master director like Hitchcock could create an action scene comparable to anything possible today. Without the need for those really expensive computer graphics.

On a side note, that’s one sexy mutha of a suit, Cary.

But I digress. On to the lighting. Art Streiber was tapped in 2008 to help shoot Vanity Fair’s 14th annual “Hollywood” issue, an homage to Hitchcock featuring recreations of 11 of his most iconic scenes. Art was assigned this shot (one of my favorites of his) and nailed each and every detail of the original. Right down to having Seth Rogen’s replica suit recreated by the same tailor of the original (oh, and yes, that’s also a real biplane, shot in-camera). Art used 2 lights and some early morning westerly sun to create this jealousy-inducing image.

Camera: DSLR, with 85mm f1.2 lens.(revised due to sync-speed comment below from Matt) Medium format, digital, with 150mm lens. Set on a tripod mounted to the back of a flatbed truck. Shot at 1/1000 1/800, f16, ISO 200.

Lighting: This shot’s lighting challenge was to balance the fill flash on the front of Seth’s body with the strong sunlight to camera left. Art uses two generators on the truck to power the two, 2400 watt packs. Two magnum reflectors at f11 (-1 stop) are staggered on one c-stand and set high, just to camera left. The sun is directly to camera left of Seth at f32 (+2 stops) and lends those gorgeous highlights.

Comments: Seth is not – by profession, hobby or genetics – a runner kind of guy. He’s a hilarious actor and that’s where he excels. To ensure Seth gave it his 110% and sprinted away from the plane on every take, Art hired a local dog trainer. She brought three, male Rottweilers, none of which were overly fond of runners, to set. Without any leashes.

  • Alessandro

    nice post!

  • Matt

    1/1000? We’d be seeing the shadow of the curtain on the frame as we’re past sync-speed, no?

    • True, true, Matt. You’re absolutely right. I’m revising my guess.

      • Not if he were using a new Schneider leaf lens on a Phase One… 1/1600 sync speed!

        Revise again!

  • Personally I’m happy with a guess of something slower.. Surely at higher sync speeds you’d be able to see the freezing of the prop, but it’s completely blurred out due to motion.
    Also, check the shadows of the posts below the plane. Those shadows are long and low. Not really the kind of sun you’d be using f16 @ ISO 200 with.

  • Art Streiber


    Very honored to be included on your blog! Regarding our November 2007 run in the strawberry fields with Seth Rogen, I’ve gone back and looked at my files and discovered that we did 18 passes of the bi plane. Yes there were (2) Profoto P50 dishes in the back of our pick up truck, but one was dedicated to a medium format Hasselblad and one was dedicated to a 35mm Canon, being shot along side by one of my assistants.

    Beyond that, I can’t provide any lens or shutter setting specifics. The light from the P50 was designed to continue the wrap from the sun and fill in Seth’s face. Yes both P50’s were powered by a generator and another one of my assistants ran alongside the pick up and pulled the cable. Both P50’s contained bi-tube heads.

    Both cameras were hand held and my assistant and I sat side by side on the tail gate of the pick up. I am sending along a behind-the-scenes image by my First Assistant, Elaine Browne (on tri-x on her Olympus clamshell), that perfectly captures the scene that afternoon in Camarillo.

    • Thanks so much, Art, for writing in with all of this info. It’s always great to hear how I did from the photographers 🙂 And I love the behind the scenes shot from Elaine Browne.

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