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Mert & Marcus photo lighting of Adele for Vogue on Guess the Lighting

ted sabarese lighting diagram of mert & marcus adele vogue

copyright, Mert & Marcus.

Thanks to everyone who sent in (and continues to send) pics of their pooches. Now back to the lighting guessing.

It doesn’t matter what kind of music you like or don’t like. I don’t think anyone can disagree that Adele has an angelic voice unlike any other. A voice that can seduce you one second, then grab you by the shoulders and shake you silly the next. The more interviews I see, the more I really like her. She has a refreshing honesty and self-deprecating sense of humor not found in many megastars. It’s unbelievable that her career was nearly ended by necessary throat surgery. Our collective ears rejoice that it was not.

Mert & Marcus’ drop-dead gorgeous and dramatic story for the March 2012 US Vogue couldn’t be more fitting of Adele and her voice. The photographic duo combine unbelievable styling, propping and lighting to create an image I’m sure Adele’s mum has taped to her fridge. They certainly nailed it. And with a combo of 4 hot lights and strobes.

This image was suggested by Joel Bedford. Thanks, Joel.

Camera: Medium format, digital, with 70mm lens set on a tripod 12 feet back. Shot at 1/60, f11, ISO 50.

Lighting: For starters, I want to acknowledge there’s quite a bit of retouching in this shot. But I don’t believe it affects the light sources. The key light (if you can call it that) is a 2.5k Arri fresnel HMI at f16 (+1 stop) placed 8 feet to camera right and 6 feet above Adele’s head with narrow focus. It’s aimed directly at her face and hits very little else. A similar Arri fresnel at f16 (+1 stop) sits low, 12 feet to camera right nearly perpendicular to the couch and aimed slightly upward. This light illuminates the branches of baby’s breath, purple fabric, her hand and dress. A gridded, medium strip light at f11 with a full CT blue gel is boomed in above Adele and aimed at the back wall. It has also been flagged to stop light from spilling onto her. A Profoto XL white umbrella at f4 (-3 stops) is set high and directly behind camera to provide a hint of fill.

Comments: During the little downtime she had between shots, Adele battled Alec Baldwin (he’s a big fan) in a Words with Friends game. She first made him promise that he wasn’t currently on an airplane of any sort, though.

mert & marcus' photo lighting for dsquared on guess the lighting blog

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram of mert & marcus on guess the lighting blog

copyright, Mert & Marcus.

This image from Dsquared2’s “Aseptic Chic” fall/winter 2010 ad campaign is actually relatively tame compared to the others. The dark and haunting sexiness juxtaposes quite nicely with the sterile, glassed and coolly-lit environment. It’s hot, in a this-may-give-you-nightmares kind of way. And I wouldn’t expect any less from M&M (or D&D, for that matter) who shot this with seven lights.

Camera: Hasselblad 553 ELX with Phase One P45+ digital back and 80mm lens, handheld 11 feet back. Shot at 1/125, f11, ISO 100.

Lighting: Our foreground model on display is lit with a 7-inch grid reflector and 30 degree grid at f11 ½ (+ ½ stop), boomed directly overhead and aimed down at her face. A white beauty dish with diffusion and a full CT blue gel at f8 (- 1 stop) is also boomed high overhead and slightly behind the model. This creates the cool highlights on her hair and on the display box. The background model is lit similarly. A 7-inch grid reflector and 30 degree grid at f11 is boomed overhead (the ½ stop less light focuses our attention to the foreground). Another white beauty dish with diffusion and a full CT blue gel at f8 (-1 stop) is boomed high and slightly behind her. A medium, gridded softbox with full CT blue gel at f5.6 ½ (-1 ½ stops) is positioned eight feet to camera right, eight feet high and almost parallel to our male model.  A medium, white umbrella with a full CT orange gel at f5.6 (-2 stops) is set ten feet to camera left and slightly behind him. This adds just a hint of warmth to his back. An octabank at f2.8 1/2 (-3.5 stops) is behind camera and serves as fill to keep things from going completely black.

Comments: Sticklers for realism, M&M had the glass cases constructed around the models so they would truly feel on-display. The prop stylist forgot to include air vents, though, in his minimalist design. He only realized the oversight when one model began to show early signs of asphyxiation. Luckily, the naked man was an off-duty fireman and broke through the glass with a nearby c-stand. Everyone was okay and, although most on-set wanted to hug him for his bravery, they merely gave the thumbs up.

mert & marcus' photo lighting interview mag for guess the lighting

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram diane kruger on guess the lighting blog

copyright, Mert & Marcus.

This shot from the September 2009 issue of Interview Magazine mixes the provocative fashion of Eyes Wide Shut with German military regalia. Like only M&M can do. It was created with 4 lights.

*Special thanks to Alex MacPherson for the suggestion.

Camera: Hasselblad 553 ELX with Phase One P45 digital back and 80mm lens, handheld 10 feet back. Shot at 1/125, f8, ISO 100.

Lighting: Since this image relies more on shadow than light, the key is actually a silver umbrella at f16 (+2 stops) to camera left of Diane and slightly behind her. A large Octabank at f2.8 1/2 (-2.5 stops) behind camera serves as overall fill. Two small strip lights, both at f8, are behind Diane to the left and right. These are aimed down at the floor and provide some separation from the rear wall.

Comments: Fresh off the Inglourious Basterds set as Bridget von Hammersmark, Diane was constantly pressed for some good Tarantino gossip. She wouldn’t tell anyone about Quentin’s love life or if they got together while shooting, but she did finally find out what was in that briefcase in Pulp Fiction. Apparently after drinking one too many black russians, Quentin confessed that the golden glow wasn’t Marcellus’ soul or anything deep like that; but, an Oscar statue he assumed he’d win later that year.