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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.