Archives For environmental portrait

Erwin Olaf's photo lighting for hope project on guess the lighting

ted sabarese lighting diagram of erwin olaf's hope project on guess the lighting

copyright, Erwin Olaf.

Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf holds a special place in my heart. Many would say he’s primarily an advertising photographer with a fashion bent. And yes, his work for Diesel Jeans, Lavazza and Moooi reflects that. But even these ad jobs showcase an imaginative artist. One who is conceptual in nature and enjoys creating unique worlds for his subjects to come to life in.

Recently, though, Erwin has focused more on personal, fine art projects. And they’re all pretty mind-blowing. This image is from his Hope series which is also a hardcover book. It’s beautiful. It’s haunting. It’s stagnant, yet dynamic in its ability to evoke emotion. I can kind of sit here for hours and scour over every detail–the casting, wardrobe, the door number, the open door, that lone umbrella–but I digress in my photo geekery. It’s just pretty awesome. To create this captured moment of hope, Erwin used 5 lights.

Camera: Medium format, with Kodak EPP 100 transparency film and an 80mm lens. Set on a tripod 11 feet back. Shot at 1/30, f11, ISO 100.

Lighting: It’ll be easier to break this down by model. Our man’s key light is a small softbox at f13 (+1/2 stop) over his head and slightly frontal aimed at his face. A medium softbox at f8 (-1 stop) is set high and three feet to camera left, also aimed at his head, providing fill. For our woman, a small softbox at f11 is over her head and also slightly frontal and just to her right. Another small softbox at f11 is positioned behind the wall the man is standing against and aimed at her face. A large octabank at f8 (-1 stop) is high and six feet to camera left. This provides fill for her body as well as the entire wall and left side of frame. The models kept very still with the slow shutter speed so Erwin could capture the wall sconce lighting (though it was enhanced in post).

Comments: The models were not the docile, overly reserved duo they appear to be. They were two members of the now-defunct German comedy troupe, The Supernaturals, and had themselves, the crew and even Erwin in stitches most of the day. Apparently, their bit about a fax machine salesman with two right feet caused the digital tech and the stylist’s assistant to wet their pants. Once and twice, respectively.

martin schoeller photo lighting of christian bale on guess the lighting

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram of schoeller on guess the lighting

copyright, Martin Schoeller.

As a GTL fan recently brought to my attention, Martin Schoeller was left off Professional Photographer Magazine’s “100 Most Influential Photographers of All Time” list. Which is a grievous travesty (so much so I’ve called my local congressman. And actually registered on PP‘s website to log an official complaint). From his “close-up” series to his vast canon of celebrity portraiture, Martin demonstrates technical mastery, powerful framing and wonderfully subtle humor seen by few other photographers. He’s kinda the man. So in deference to this man so wrongfully snubbed by a silly list, I’ve decided to guess his lighting to open the week.

Back in 2009, soon after the release of The Dark Knight, Martin was asked to shoot Christian Bale for Esquire UK. Some very cool, close-up portraits were also published, but this shot of a sharply dressed jetty fisherman made me giggle outright. The attention to details like the old-school tackle box, multiple poles and a large flock of seagulls (I’m guessing his assistants had bags full of french fries to keep their attention) is amazing. Martin pulled this off with two lights and the strategically positioned sun.

Camera: Medium format, 160 ASA film, with 90mm lens set on a tripod 14 feet back. Shot at 1/250, f8, ISO 100.

Lighting: The key light is a gridded, white beauty dish at f8, positioned 5 feet to camera right, a bit above head hight and aimed directly at Christian’s face. The grid keeps the light from falling off too much onto his upper body and legs. Another gridded, white beauty dish at f5.6 (-1 stop) sits 8 feet to camera left and is similarly aimed at his face. This light gives us the fill on his face but allows his body to go dark. The sun, though not nearly at magic hour, is low in the sky at f11 1/2 (+1 1/2 stops) to camera right and well behind Christian. Martin has a 6×6 frame with a silk positioned to camera right in order to soften the highlights on Christian’s face and suit (notice how strong the highlights are on some of the birds’ heads that were not diffused by the silk).

Comments: Not having much saltwater fishing experience himself, but a big fan of Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea, Christian was excited for this setup. In between film changes, he practiced his casting into the surf and worked the lure further and further out each time. At one point, he unintentionally and inadvertently hooked something. The something turned out to be a 425 pound Blue Marlin that pulled him off the rocks, into the ocean. Waist-deep, he fought the fish for nearly two hours before finally battling it to the beach and beating out the previous local Blue Marlin record by 45 pounds. To celebrate, Christian treated the entire crew, as well as the medium-sized crowd that had gathered, to tequila gimlets at a nearby bar.