Archives For fine art

alex prager's retro 60s lighting for fine art work on guess the lighting blog

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram of alex prager for guess the lighting blog

copyright, Alex Prager.

Alex is white-hot in the fine art world right now. She’s a self-taught photographer whose influences include William Eggleston, Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch. He work usually involves 1960s-styled women, lots of wigs and fantastic use of color. This 2009 shot entitled Rachel and Friends is both gripping and eerie. It was created with five lights.

Camera: Contax 645 with 55mm lens and Kodak 400vc Portra film, set on a tripod 6 feet back. Shot at 1/60, f4, ISO 400.

Lighting: The key lights on rachel and friends in the front row are Arri 6000 watt fresnel HMIs with barn doors set on a medium roller 8 feet to camera right and right. The left sits high and the right is at about head-level. Another 6k fresnel with barn doors is 10 feet to camera left, just in front of the second row. A third 6k fresnel with barn doors is sitting high, in the rear right of frame, aimed downwards. This forms the hair lights on the women in the back of the image. A smaller, 1.2k Arri fresnel HMI is set just off the ground to camera right. This creates the nice glow on the woman’s face in the third row.

Comments: Rachel produced this image on her own dime so tried to save money wherever possible. Since there was a lot of talent, she didn’t want to buy wigs for everyone. Instead, she cast people who already had the 60s look working for them (one of the more unusual women believed it was still 1969). Only one person in the shot is wearing a wig. Any guesses as to who it is?

lydon wade's photo lighting room 107 series on guess the lighting

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram of lyndon wade on guess the lighting blog

copyright, Lyndon Wade.

The Room 107 series is pretty sick. There are 12 or so different scenarios that take place in the same motel room. Everything from porn shoots to kidney harvesting to gangster shakedowns (how about that super realistic blood splatter?). This image was created with 6 strobes and 4 room lights. Check out a hi-res version here.

And yes. Lyndon is David Lindsey’s brother.

Camera: Canon D1s Mark II with a 50mm lens, positioned on a tripod 8 feet back. Shot at 1/125, f8, ISO 100.

Lighting: I’m guessing this was a set built in a studio with more room to tweak light than an actual hotel room. The puncher and punchee are lit with a small softbox at f8 boomed high out of frame and slightly behind the two. A small softbox at f8 is boomed high above the man sitting on the bed and aimed toward the camera left wall. A small softbox at f8 is positioned similarly to camera right. Another small softbox at f8 is boomed high and center near the back wall, aimed downward. A standard reflector at f16 (+2 stops) is bounced off the bathroom ceiling and casts the highlights on the rear, camera-right wall. For the perfectly creepy, blueish fill, Lyndon used a silver beauty dish at f2.8 (-3 stops) with full CTB gel. A separate plate was shot at 1 second to capture the glow of all 4 lamp lights and composited together during post.

Comments: To heighten the sense of reality, Lyndon hired a real gangster “debt collector” as an on-set consultant. He proved invaluable in pointing out subtleties such as where the blood splatter should land, the precise ratio of water to cement mix and that duct tape has 1001 uses, from gag to handcuffs to noose.

david lindsey wade's photo lighting for shootout on guess the lighting blog

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram for lindsey wade on guess the lighting blog

copyright, David Lindsey Wade.

Check out a hi-res image here.

This action-packed image is from David’s personal series depicting a drug bust gone bloody. It was created with 5 lights and the sun.

Camera: Canon 1Ds Mark II with 28mm lens, set on a tripod 8 feet back. Shot at 1/125, f16, ISO 100.

Lighting: The key light on our hero shotgunner is a silver beauty dish at f16, positioned high and six feet to camera right. Another white beauty dish at f11 (-1 stop) is high and out of frame to camera left. This provides fill on the shotgunner and helps light the background characters. A standard reflector shot through a 6×6 silk at f16 is outside the window to camera left. Another standard reflector at f32 (+2 stops) is behind the wall in the kitchen to camera right and aimed toward the table. This provides the hot hair and arm highlights on the guys by the table. A Profoto giant, parabolic reflector at f4 1/2 (-3 1/2 stops) is behind camera for general fill. A separate plate of the bare room was shot at 1 second without lights to capture the lamp light, as well as the blown-out highlights from the sun in the back window. These elements were composited together in post.

Comments: David’s producer somehow swung it so they were shooting with real money and drugs. Since there was over $1 million in recovered, small bills and $200K in uncut cocaine, the real law enforcement was on set keeping tabs. All of the models were required to wear ankle monitors and take a drug test after the production wrapped.

david drebin's photo lighting in room with a view on guess the lighting blog

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram of david drebin on guess the lighting blog

copyright, David Drebin.

This striking and filmic still is from David’s book Room with a View (inspired from the eponymous Conde Nast Traveler column). It was taken in the NY Standard Hotel, 12th floor, and created with 2 lights.

Camera: Canon 5d Mark II with a 28mm lens, set on a tripod 8 feet back. Shot at 1/125, f8, ISO 100.

Lighting: The key light is a white beauty dish with grid at f8 1/2 positioned high and out of frame to camera left (up against the window). Another white beauty dish with grid at f4 is placed high and out of frame to camera right (also up against the window and aimed almost straight down). The background is a separate plate shot without strobes at 1/2 second, f8 then composited together in photoshop.

Comments: The model received special “hazard” pay because this was shot while the Standard was still under construction. The glass window panes had not been installed yet. The casting specs for this project read, “blond, around 30, not afraid of heights. And preferably without suicidal tendencies.”

heimo schmidt's photo lighting for myth series on guess the lighting blog

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram for heimo schmidt on guess the lighting

copyright, Heimo Schmidt.

Heimo’s Myths reinterpret the Norse mythology of Icelandic culture and give it a modern sensibility. This meticulously art-directed image was created with 1 light.

Camera: Toyo 45Aii with 150mm lens and Fuji Pro 160s film, set on a tripod 8 feet back. Shot at 1/60, f32, ISO 100 (pulled 1/2 stop).

Lighting: the key light is a white umbrella at f32 set 8 feet to camera right and 10 feet high. A white bounce card provides the fill (f16)  to camera left. The sun is high and behind the barn, providing the subtle hair light on her braid and added definition to the grass.

Comments: To this day, Heimo firmly believes he didn’t upset or offend any of the Norse Gods with this photo project. And that nothing supernatural or otherworldly happened while shooting. But when, immediately after breaking down this shot, a lighting bolt split the barn in two, the sky turned a brownish red and the model’s hair morphed into a pack of spit-spewing, miniature hyenas, some on set felt otherwise.

andrew hetherington's photo lighting for moo cow on guess the lighting blog

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram of moo cow on guess the lighting blog

copyright, Andrew Hetherington.

This crisply-lit bovine was shot in the village of Cootehall, Ireland when Andrew returned after a 10-year hiatus. It was created with 1 speedlight and a six-pack of room temperature Guinness.

Camera: Hasselblad 503cw with 80mm lens and Kodak Portra NC 160 film, set on a tripod 12 feet back. Shot at 1/125, f8, ISO 160.

Lighting: The key is a speedlight at f8 that Andrew held with his left hand at arms length to camera left. The sky is at f5.6 (-1 stop).

Comments: No matter how much black nectar Andrew offered the cow, she wouldn’t come out from behind the stone fence, apparently quite coy and modest. But once the camera was packed away, she sauntered right over and pounded a few pints with him, gabbing about politics and how Irish grass blows away the Scottish shwag.

On a completely unrelated note, if you haven’t checked out Andrew’s blog What’s the Jackanory?, you’re missing out. Like never having eaten cake.

julie blackmon's photo lighting of girl near stairs on guess the lighting blog

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram of julie blackmon on guess the lighting blog

copyright, Julie Blackmon.

Although Julie oftentimes uses digital collage and montage techniques in her imagery, I’m guessing this shot, entitled PC, was created entirely in-camera using 4 lights.

Camera: Hasselblad 503cw with 50mm lens and Kodak Portra NC 400 ASA film, set on a tripod 8 feet back from girl. Shot at 1/60, f11, ISO 400.

Lighting: The key light on the little cherub is a grid reflector with 30 degree grid at f11, positioned 4 feet to camera right. A white umbrella at f2.8 (-4 stops) placed 8 feet to camera right serves as a light fill for the room. A standard reflector at f16 (+1 stop) is behind the wall to camera left, aimed upward at the woman on the stairs. Another standard reflector at f11 is set behind the wall to camera right, aimed toward the staircase. The glowing computer screen was added in post.

Comments: A zealous Mac fan and tough negotiator, Julie’s 3 year-old daughter (she uses family members in most of her photos) initially refused to pose for this shot out of principle. Julie offered up later bedtimes, broccoli-free dinners and an extra hour of TV to no avail. When Julie finally agreed to trade the toy rocking-horse for a Classic American Shetland Pony, her daughter threw on her pretty white dress, hopped in front of the lens, smiled and said, “okay, mommy, let’s make some art.”

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.

rineke dijkstra's photo lighting for beach girl on guess the lighting blog

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram of beach girl on guess the lighting blog

copyright, Rineke Dijkstra.

Sometimes compared to Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus,” this awkward, yet beautiful, seaside portrait from Rineke’s Beach Portraits was created with only 1 light and the sun.

Camera: Linhof Master Technika 4×5 with Rodenstock 150mm lens and Fuji Pro 160S film, set on a tripod 8 feet back. Shot at 1/125, f16, ISO 160.

Lighting: The key light is a Lumedyne light with standard reflector at f16 just to camera right. The sun is up to camera right also at f8, but pretty diffused due to the overcast skies. The extra stop of light on the model helps draw our eye to her and separates her from the background.

Comments: The girl is intentionally arranging her hair to cover the fresh hickey her boyfriend just planted on her while they were cavorting under the nearby pier (her mom wouldn’t mind but her dad would kill her and take away her iPod). Rineke cheered her up, though, with a few tips on how to not only hide, but remove it.

martin schoeller's photo lighting for kissinger on guess the lighting blog

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram for kissinger on guess the lighting blog

copyright, Martin Schoeller.

Not one of the more popular images from Martin’s Close Up book, Kissinger’s 2007 portrait is my secret favorite. To me, Martin has captured every gut-wrenching decision Henry ever made in this single expression we’re uncomfortably close to. He created this with 4 light sources.

Camera: Mamiya RZ67 with 140mm macro lens and Kodak portra VC 400 ASA film, set on a tripod 5 feet back. Shot at 1/60, f5.6, ISO 400.

Lighting: The two key lights are 4-bulb Kino Flos positioned 3 feet from Henry’s face, just to camera left and right. At full power, they barely pull a f5.6. A small soft box at f5.6 is boomed directly over his head. A 7” reflector with grid at f8 sits on a small c-stand behind Henry, aimed at the background. The grid creates the white glow just above his shoulders, but allows the top of the background to go slightly grey.

Comments:  Martin and Henry got into a spirited debate about whether it’s proper etiquette to eat weisswurst after 12pm, but ended up agreeing to just disagree, without any hard feelings, whatsoever.