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sacha waldman's photo lighting of kohler ventriloquists on guess the lighting blog

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram of ventriliquist

copyright, Sacha Waldman

This mid-century feeling ventriloquist shot from the Kohler faucet campaign (photographer’s alternate cropping) gets funnier the longer you look at it. It was created with 9 strobes and 12 AC slaves with standard household, screw-type, lamp socket connections.

Camera: Contax 645 with 55mm lens and Leaf Aptus 22 back, set on a tripod 8 feet from closest models. Shot at 1/125, f16, ISO 100.

Lighting: A lot of light is used for this large set and cast. The key light is a 7’ Octabank at f16 (without any baffle) boomed 5 feet directly over camera and angled downward. A large softbox at f11 is centered below and just in front of camera, angled upward. Notice the nice highlights on the faucet this creates. Another large softbox at f16 is boomed high over and 9 feet in front of camera, out of frame and angled downward at a 30 degree angle. High out of frame and to camera left, a normal reflector at f11 1/2 is angled downward toward the center of frame. Stuck up in the top center of the tent, a standard reflector at f22 and attached to the pole creates the bright highlights on the material. In the rear of the tent to camera left, another standard reflector at f22 is hidden behind the fold and aimed upward. Outside the rear of the tent high to camera right, a magnum reflector at f22 is pointed downward. This creates the flare in the tent hole and the highlights on the man standing in the opening. Hidden behind the open trunk in the rear to camera right, a standard reflector at f22 is aimed into the bottom of the tent. Out of frame to camera right and ten feet in front of the camera, a standard reflector at f16 is aimed toward the middle of frame. This helps light the second row of models. The string of bare light bulbs and the hanging lantern are AC slaves. With longer recycling times, some did not fire every shot.

Whew. That was a mouthful.

Comments: Having all the ventriloquists drink water was a genius idea conceptually, but led to “logistical” challenges. Nothing a row of luxury Porta-Johns directly outside the tent couldn’t fix, though.