Archives For leibovitz

annie leibovitz lights game of thrones on guess the lighting

ted sabarese lighting diagram of annie leibovitz

copyright, Annie Leibovitz.

If one thing can bring me out of lighting guessing retirement, its Game of Thrones. Well, not just G.O.T., but Annie shooting the cast for the fourth season (which, by the way, I just finished and is freaking amazing!!). This image, in particular, is dripping with nuance. Look how the members of House Lannister and Baratheon are positioned–no accident. Cersei in the foreground with Jaime tucked neatly behind her. Joffrey, although king, small and almost in the background. Tyrion is off the side, never quite a true part of the family. Tywin also sits smugly off to the side where he can pull strings without drawing unwanted attention. And Brienne looks on from afar, as close as she will ever get to Jaime.

Thrones drama aside, Annie delivers a gorgeous and strong image lit by only 1 light and a cooperatively clouded sun. And yes, I’m a G.O.T. nerd.

Camera: Medium format with 80mm lens set on a tripod 16 feet back. Shot at 1/125, f11, ISO 100.

Lighting: I believe Annie goes back to one of her recent favorite lighting setups here. The key light is a single Photek Softlighter at f11, handheld by an assistant, high and 8 feet to camera right. The diffused skylight fills in the shot at f5.6 (-2 stops).

Comments: While on a green juice break, Annie got Peter Dinklage talking about the upcoming season and who would inevitably be killed off. He wouldn’t give specifics, but said that 2 people at today’s shoot wouldn’t be around for next year’s. Annie tried to tickle it out of him but found Peter isn’t very ticklish.

annie leibovitz photo lighting of lady gaga on guess the lighting

ted sabarese lighting diagram of annie leibovitz shot

ted sabarese lighting diagram of annie leibovitz shot

copyright, Annie Leibovitz.

Thanks to everyone who responded to the poll on the GTL facebook page. Annie was the hands-down winner of readers’ choice for my next guess. So, as you’ve requested, here’s a cool shot by Annie featuring Lady Gaga for the December, 2009 edition of Vogue.

As would be expected, Annie’s interpretation of the childhood Hansel and Gretel story rocks with drama and a high fashion sensibility. This image reenacts the scene where the two children turn the table on the witch and throw her into the oven. Having Gaga and model phenom Lily Cole on hand certainly doesn’t hurt.

I’m also guessing this image was not all shot together, in-camera. I don’t see how Annie could have achieved the vibrant red light on the oven and ground while keeping the models lit mostly white. I think the camera was locked off with Gaga being shot by herself, then the two models shot separately. 6 lights were used in total and the final image was composited in post.

Camera: DSLR with 50mm lens set on a tripod 15 feet back. Shot at 1/125, f11, ISO 400.

Lighting: The key light on Gaga is a Photek Softlighter at f16 (+1 stop), handheld by an assistant, high and 6 feet to camera right. It has been removed in post. A large octabank with a red gel at f8 1/2 (-1/2 stop) is set directly behind camera. This fills in Gaga and gives the red hue to the front of the oven and ground. A gridded magnum reflector with a full CTO gel at f22 (+2 stops) is behind her on the floor of the oven, aimed slightly upward. This adds the yellowish highlights to Gaga’s hair.

In the second setup, a medium octabank at f5.6 (-2 stops) is set high and 10 feet to camera left, providing fill on Lily’s back. Another medium octabank at f8 (-1 stop) is set similarly to camera right for fill on the man. The same large octabank with a red gel at f8 (-1 stop) is set just behind camera. A small, Profoto striplight with barn doors at f22 (+2 stops) is boomed directly above the models and aimed downwards, creating the areas of high contrast on their shirts, faces and legs. I’m guessing the red on the man’s hair has been accentuated in post. Probably lots of the red has actually been accentuated. Finally, the same gridded magnum reflector with a full CTO gel at f22 (+2 stops) sits on the oven floor and creates the yellow highlights on the man’s face. The final image is a composite of the two shots.

Comments: Lady Gaga thought it would be totally rad if she literally set herself on fire for the shot. But the level-headed Leibovitz (who ordinarily has a penchant for “reality” too) convinced her that sometimes “figurative” is just as good as “literal.” Especially when dealing with flames.

annie leibovitz's photo lighting in Vanity Fair for wizard of oz

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram of annie leibovitz for guess the lighting blog

copyright, Annie Leibovitz.

Talk about a challenge. In 2005, Vogue Magazine posed this to Annie Leibovitz: take the Wizard of Oz, one of history’s most important films. Recreate the iconic scenes, but add your own personal, touch. Looking at the photo story as a whole, I have to say Annie nailed it. Crushed it, actually (it certainly didn’t hurt to have Keira Knightley at her disposal). Google the story. Each image is more beautiful than the next. This shot of Dorothy, Auntie Em and Uncle Henry rushing to shelter captures the cinematic feel while adding Annie’s modern sensibility. It was created with one light and the help of the sun.

Camera: Mamiya RZ67 with 50mm lens and Kodak Portra 400NC film, handheld 15 feet back. Shot at 1/60, f16, ISO 400.

Lighting: To mimic a gloomy, tornado-laden day, Annie underexposed the shot by two stops. The key light is a large Octabank at f8 set high and 12 feet to camera left. The sun at f8 is high in the sky and slightly to camera right. This adds fill and some flatness to the image. Two large wind machines are out of frame to camera right aimed head-high adding to the stormy feel. Though a stickler for realism, Annie did not wait for an actual tornado to touch down. The background was added in post.

Comments: The cute puppy, though a dead wringer for Toto, wasn’t the most obedient pooch. While the rest of the talent moved toward the shelter doors, he ran in the opposite direction. Usually chasing a vagrant squirrel or his own tail. After numerous failed attempts, the prop stylist replaced him with a taxidermied fox. The dogs features were retouched in in post.

annie leibovitz's photo lighting of keith richards for louis vuitton

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram of keith richards on guess the lighting blog

copyright, Annie Leibovitz.

Annie and Keith go way back. Way back. She toured with the Stones in their heyday and shot some pretty amazing imagery. With only about 10 minutes to work with Keith, Annie went old school with her lighting. Simple. Moody. Elegant. And somehow made Keith look (dare I say) “good,” with only one light.

To see a higher res version of the shot click here.

Camera: Canon 1Ds Mark III with 24-70mm lens, handheld six feet back. Shot at 1/60, f5.6, ISO 200.

Lighting: The key light is an inexpensive Photek Softlighter at f5.6 handheld on a boom by an assistant. It’s four feet to camera left and eight feet high. Though the lamps and light behind the door appear to be strobes, the light was amplified in post.

Comments: Both avid potholers, Annie and Keith spent a good part of the shoot discussing their favorite secret caverns, halogen vs. LED helmet lights and whether a figure-of-eight knot was stronger than an alpine butterfly. All of which helped distract Keith from the fact his cup of tea (English Breakfast) had been empty for minutes.

john keatley's photo lighting of annie leibovitz on guess the lighting blog

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram of annie leibovitz on guess the lighting

copyright, John Keatley.

This rare portrait of Annie (not taken by herself) was shot for the Seattle Metropolitan and showcases the fact she looks through the camera viewfinder with her left eye. It was created with 3 lights.

Camera: Hasselblad H3D-II 31 with 80mm lens, set on a tripod six feet back. Shot at 1/125, f11, ISO 100.

Lighting: The key light is a gridded, small softbox at f8 1/2 (-.5 stops) positioned six feet to camera right and three feet above Annie’s head. The fill is a white umbrella at f4 (-3 stops) sitting just to camera left at head height. A seven inch reflector with a 20 degree grid at f5.6 (-2 stops) is low, behind Annie and angled up at the background. The shot is slightly underexposed, adding to the soft overall feel.

Comments: John felt just the smallest bit intimidated (who wouldn’t?) taking a portrait of one of the master portraitists of our time. He decided to steer the conversation away from photography and instead asked Annie if she had read any good books lately? She replied, “no, not really, but check this” and busted out into a well-choreographed pop and lock routine Boogaloo Sam had helped her with.

*Thanks to Nolan Wells for suggesting this image.

annie leibovitz's photo lighting for disney on guess the lighting blog

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram of disney ad on guess the lighting blog

copyright, Annie Leibovitz

This image featuring Mikhail Baryshnikov as Peter Pan, Gisele Bundchen as Wendy and Tina Fey as Tinkerbell is part of the “dream portrait” series for Disney theme parks. My guess is that Annie used only 2 (albeit, big-ass) lights for this shot.

Camera: Hasselblad H1 with 50mm lens and Phase One P30 digital back, on a tripod 10 feet back. Shot at 1/125, f11, ISO 100.

Lighting: The drama created with the lighting is achieved by the “less is more” philosophy. One Profoto 6 foot giant parabolic umbrella reflector at f11 is boomed over Mikhail and aimed down towards his head. Another one, also at f11, is boomed over and slightly behind Gisele and pointed down at her head. This setup allows for beautiful, soft lighting on the faces while letting most of the room drop off. The scenic skyline out the window was put in in post. As was tiny, glowy Tina Fey.

Comments: This was a tough shot to pull off. For authenticity’s sake, Annie set a 3:30AM call time and required the entire crew to wear bedroom slippers. Plus, Tina kept making fart noises from behind the window just as Mikhail “landed” in the room.