Archives For studio

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.

nadav kander photo lighting for time magazine on guess the lighting

ted sabarese lighting diagram of nadav kander's morsi shot

copyright, Nadav Kander.

Nadav Kander is one of the most successful advertising and editorial photographers today. What makes his portraiture unique is that he doesn’t have a single photo lighting “look,” but many, actually. He’s consistently trying different setups, pushing himself to remain fresh and relevant. This shot for a recent Time Magazine cover illustrates this point. It’s a standard, tight headshot of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, but the lighting and subtle retouching make it anything but ordinary. Fitting for the “most important man in the Middle East,” right? Nadav achieved this look with 4 lights.

Camera: Medium format, digital, with 100mm lens set on a tripod 6 feet back. Shot at 1/125, f8, ISO 50.

Lighting: The key lighting for this image is perfectly symmetrical. Nadav uses two, small softboxes (with the outer baffle removed to increase specularity) at f13 (+1 1/2 stops). They are placed 3 feet to either side of Morsi’s head and slightly behind it. This placement creates the sharp highlights on his cheeks but also manages to fill the front of his face. It also keeps away any reflection from his glasses. Two white umbrellas at f5.6 (-1 stop) are aimed at the seamless from both the right and left sides to create a flat background. The shadow behind Morsi’s head is added in post.

Comments: A big fan of Hank Williams Sr. (definitely not Jr.), Morsi played a medley of his songs on his oud between shots. His crooning and wailing were pretty spot on, too, with more than one crew member suggesting he tryout for next season’s the Voice.

achim lippoth photo lighting on guess the lighting

ted sabarese lighting diagram of achim lippoth guess the lighting

copyright, Achim Lippoth.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say Achim is the world’s preeminent children’s photographer. He’s consistently finds a way to visually capture the honesty of childhood without ever surrendering to the saccharine style so often associated with the genre. He shoots kids the way they’re dying to be treated: with respect and adult-like.

This image, from Promised Land for Kids Wear Magazine (which Achim also happens to publish), is one of the raddest (and probably most expensive) editorial stories for children’s clothing ever made. Now don’t think this was all shot in-camera. It wasn’t. It’s a Mad Max inspired collaboration between Achim and German post production house The Scope, with loads of CGI combined with incredible styling and propping. Shot in a massive studio. Composited with great expense. Oh, and with the assistance of 3 lights.

It kicks ass, right? I couldn’t image any photographer not wishing they’d shot this themselves.

Camera: Medium format, digital, with 50mm lens. Set on a tripod 11 feet back. Shot at 1/125, f11, ISO 50.

Lighting: This was shot in a studio, but Achim wanted to imitate desert sunlight as closely as possible. The key light is a gridded, silver beauty dish at f11 1/2 (+1/2 stop) 8 feet to camera right and 3 feet above the kid’s head level. A magnum reflector at f18 (+2 stops) is 6 feet to camera right of the boy, about head level and 4 feet behind him. This mimics the hard, late day sun and creates the strong highlights and long shadow on the ground. The fill light is a large octabank at f5.6 (-2 stops) 8 feet to camera left and even with the boy.

Comments: While the stylist was putting finishing touches and dirtying up the wardrobe, Achim playfully asked the 10-year-old boy if he’d ever heard of the movie Mad Max. “Yep,” he answered. “The trilogy kinda made Mel Gibson’s career, right? Mad Max 2 blew, but Beyond Thunderdome was more complex and visionary than even the original. Possibly one of the best films of ’85. Without Mad Max, there may not have been a Lethal Weapon worth seeing. In my opinion, anyway. Hey, Achim, can I please get a ginger ale? My mom doesn’t let me drink soda at home.”

f. scott schafer lights larry david on guess the lighting

Ted Sabarese photo lighting diagram of Schafer's shot of Larry David

copyright, F. Scott Schafer.

Larry David, the creator of Seinfeld and now the star of his own show, is a funny man. He’s self-deprecating. He’s annoying. His social skills are lacking and his mouth knows no filter. I remember first seeing this image for the 2010 season of Curb Your Enthusiasm and immediately snorting out the orange juice I was drinking. It sums up the show perfectly, instantly and as hysterically as it should.

F. Scott Schafer seems equally as funny, at least visually speaking (I’ve never met him and can’t vouch for his joke repertoire). The majority of his work is provocative celebrity portraiture. It’s usually witty as hell, with intricate lighting, and this image is no exception. I’m guessing this delightful studio shot was created with precisely 5 lights and the use of a rented mini-trampoline.

Camera: DSLR with 50mm lens, set on a tripod 12 feet back. Shot at 1/125, f11, ISO 100.

Lighting: The key light is a medium octabank at f11 1/2 (+1/2 stop) boomed in from camera left and positioned above and slightly behind Larry. A medium strip light at f11 sits just out of frame to camera left by the couch to help highlight him. A medium octabank at f8 (-1 stop) is twelve feet to camera left while another at f8 is twelve feet to camera right. The lights help to fill the background, although the heavy vignette was created in Photoshop. A large octabank at f5.6 (-2 stops) is positioned high and directly behind camera to provide fill on Larry and the couch. As much as Larry hoped to shoot the exasperated psychologist in-camera, Schafer wasn’t able to find a suitable model willing to hang by his neck for an extended period of time. He was shot separately, bouncing on a mini-tramp, with the medium strip as the key light and the large octabank as fill.

Comments: As you can imagine, Larry isn’t exactly the type to sit quietly throughout the shoot day. He spent a good portion of it bouncing ideas off F. Scott and the crew for another, “better” (his words) concept for the poster. When the makeup artist’s assistant mentioned the honey badger, Larry’s eyes lit up and he hopped from the couch and called for a team meeting. “Can we get a honey badger in here?” he asked. “But it’s gotta be a crazy, nastyass one. And let’s get a bee hive, a jackal and two cobras. And let’s see if we can get Randall in here, too. Let’s get his agent on the phone.”

After two minutes of utter silence with Larry looking from person to person without any reaction, he said, “okay, okay. I see I’m alone on this one. Not the first time. That’s okay. I’ll just go back to the couch now. Can I get a Fresca first, though, please?”

 

nadav kander's photo lighting of brad pitt on guess the lighting blog

Ted Sabarese photography lighting diagram of Nadav Kander

copyright, Nadav Kander.

Back in August of 2011, New York Magazine hired Nadav to shoot both Brad and Jonah Hill. The reason? A little film called Moneyball, the true story of Oakland A’s general manager Bill Beane who used quantitative analysis and computers to build a winning team and fight huge payroll inequities. The film almost didn’t make it to screen (to learn why, go here). It took nearly 10 years, 3 directors and 3 producers to complete, with Brad jumping on board in 2007 and seeing the film through.

Nadav managed to shoot this compelling portrait in 1 day, in 1 studio but with 5 lights.

Camera: Medium format, digital, with 80mm lens. Set on a tripod 8 feet back. Shot at 1/125, f8.5, ISO 100.

Lighting: The key light is a gridded, white beauty dish at f11 (+ 1/2 stop) set high and 10 feet to camera left. Nadav was careful to position it precisely, keeping both of Brad’s eyes in the light. No fill light was used to ensure the strong contrast between light and shadow, which is pretty freakin’ killer. Behind v-flats (black side out) two white umbrellas attached to a c-stand at f8 (- 1/2 stop) were set behind brad to camera left and right. This creates the perfectly flat background. Now, quite a bit of post work was required to get this final look, but that’s a whole different blog.

Comments: It’s well-documented how Brad goodheartedly, yet relentlessly, pranked Jonah during filming. Let’s see. There was the giant, male genitalia placed on the back of his car before Jonah drove home on the freeway. Brad also shrink-wrapped Jonah’s golf cart bright pink (yes, movie stars get their own cart to cruise around the sets).

So for this shoot, Jonah decided he’d get a little payback, conspiring with Nadav and stylist Cheryl Konteh. When Brad arrived at the studio, they brought him through his wardrobe for the first shot: Black leather thong and matching tube top. Brad’s jaw dropped to the floor, but being a good sport and bowing to Nadav’s expertise, he took the outfit and changed in the dressing room. When Brad walked on to set donning his leather, Jonah jumped out, took a pic with his iPhone and yelled, “this is so going on my Facebook page, man. I mean, I think it is. Unless you don’t want me too. Okay, I’m deleting it now. Sorry, Brad.”

Victor Demarchelier's photo lighting of Constance Jablonski

Ted Sabarese lighting diagram of Victor Demarchelier shooting Constance Jablonski

copyright, Victor Demarchelier.

When your pop is Patrick Demarchelier, you’ve got some photo juju at your disposal. After assisting his dad for a bit, young Victor went out on his own in 2009 to shoot mostly models of the fashion variety. And if you’re up on your models, you know Ms. Jablonski is pretty big. Which may explain (or not) the 50-gallon hat she’s styled in for this September 2012 Harper’s Bazaar Australia cover. Vincent lit this image with 2 lights and a hat wrangler.

*Thanks to Dennis Zeitz for sending me this image.

Camera: Medium format, digital, with 100mm lens. Set on a tripod 10 feet back. Shot at 1/125, f11, ISO 50.

Lighting: To achieve this extremely flattering, soft light, Vincent pulled a page from his dad’s playbook. The Key light is a medium octabank at f11, just above head height and 6 feet to camera right. You can see that the light is not very high since it Constance’s hat doesn’t cast much of a shadow on her face. A 7-inch grid reflector with 30 degree grid at f8 (-1 stop) is low and behind Connie to camera right. It’s aimed up at the center of the seamless to create the slight glow behind her. A black v-flat is just to camera left of Constance to create a strong shadow on that side.

Comments: Unbeknownst to many, Constance is quite the card. She arrived on set speaking not with her native French accent, but with a full-on Aussie one. She proceeded to teach the entire crew how to speak Australian and told Victor that she almost “chucked a sickie” because she was “chundering” all morning after a “cobber” fed her a few “icy poles” made with Vodka.

guess the lighting blog's ted sabarese bio pic

Doggett's lighting diagram of ted sabarese bio pic for guess the lighting blog

Ted photo, copyright, Ted Sabarese. Illustration, copyright Eric Doggett.

I always appreciate all the comments, recommendations and props I receive from GTL fans. But today in my inbox, Eric Doggett blew my mind.

Hi Ted -
I love what you’ve done with GuessTheLighting, and I always enjoy each post.
However, I felt that while you were great at giving out the lighting love, no one was returning the favor. So, I decided to break down your profile image myself.

Here’s what Eric had to say on his blog.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out GuessTheLighting.com, I recommend you give it a look (especially if you are into lighting like I am). Ted Sabarese runs the show over there, where he dissects images and offers his take on how he thought the lighting for an image was done.

Always entertaining and informative, it will give you a good primer on lighting if you are new to it. If you are a veteran it will offer you some great ways to think about how to light your next shoot. In any case, you will get a laugh with each post as Ted pontificates on the behind-the-scenes drama of a particular shoot.

So, in deference to Ted, I offer my own “Guess The Lighting” post to breakdown his bio picture:

Camera: Canon 5D Mark 2 with 50mm lens, on a tripod, remotely triggered from 5 feet away. Shot at 1/100, f5.6, ISO 800.

Lighting: Tungsten light bulb, camera right, 10 feet off the ground. Otherwise known as ‘porch light’. Ferrari headlight, camera left, 40 yards back.

Wardrobe: Nike hunter green parka with matching hoodie, 2006 (discontinued).

Comments: This image was taken at the winter home of Sean Connnery. On this rainy day, Ted was tasked with walking Mr. Connery from his house to the photo set (which involved a 2014 Ferrari concept car and a Louis Vitton bag). Ted managed to keep Mr. Connery dry for the 7 minute walk to the car (and its pre-activated heated leather seats).

Thanks again, Eric, for taking the time to post this (badass sketch, by the way).

So how do you think he did? Anyone care to comment?

Albert Watson's photo lighting of Steve Jobs on guess the lighting blog

ted sabarese lighting diagram of steve jobs on guess the lighting blog

copyright, Albert Watson.

Steve Jobs was the man. In so many way. But he granted very few interviews and photo ops, apparently due to camera shyness and being uncomfortable in the public eye. With Steve’s passing, Albert Watson’s 2006 portrait catapulted to fame overnight. It became the defining image of the intense genius behind Apple’s rebirth. Originally color, the now b&w shot says what Steve knew all along: I’m going to revolutionize so much more than just computers. The image was created with three strobes.

Camera: Arca-Swiss F-Line Misura with 150mm Schneider lens and Kodak Portra 160nc 4×5 film, set on a tripod 8 feet back. Shot at 1/250, f32, ISO 100.

Lighting: Albert is certainly old-school and this set-up is nothing shocking. The key light is a white umbrella at f32, high and six feet to camera left. Two umbrellas at f16 1/2 (-1 stop) are placed behind Steve to the left and right. They evenly light the background and remove any shadow there.

Comments: Before getting underway, Steve and Albert jabbered about computers, iPods and the future of the music industry. Still a fan of analog (cameras, records, etc.), Albert was still skeptical of keeping his entire music library on a tiny, electronic device. He did, however, think it would be cool to someday have a phone that would play music, keep appointments and help him track the sun’s trajectory during the day.

Nick Knight's photo lighting of Lady Gaga on guess the lighting blog

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram of lady gaga for guess the lighting blog

Nick Knight multi-camera setup

copyright, Nick Knight.

Nick Knight may be fashion photography’s Andy Warhol. He pushes his work conceptually, technically and stylistically. Usually in a $3000 suit. This outtake from i-D Magazine’s 30th birthday cover shoot with Lady Gaga, though, lands on the tamer side of Nick-ness. Straightforward black and white. Yet still quite beautiful in its simplicity. This image of the Lady (and two lucky photo assistants) was created with three strobes.

That’s a bonus shot of Mr. Knight with one of his crazy camera setups (not used here). The man’s a dashing, mad genius.

Camera: Hasselblad H2 with 100mm lens and Phase One p65+ back, set on tripod 10 feet back. Shot at 1/250, f8, ISO 50.

Lighting: It’s not easy keeping up with Gaga’s on-camera antics, so Nick shot at 1/250 and had an assistant hand-hold a head to even have a chance. The key light is a Magnum reflector at f8 1/2 (+ 1/2 stops) held by the assistant at head height, six feet to camera right. Two large softboxes to the right and left of the white seamless at f5.6 (-1 stop) light the background.

Comments: This particular day, the lovely Lady was feeling feline. Specifically, like a Norwegian Forest Cat since this breed followed the Vikings around the world on their ships. “I could totally see myself kicking ass with the Vikings,” she told Nick “but as a cat. I would be the cat no other cat would want to ever meet. Unless they had a death wish. I’d take all of their nine lives in one vicious wave of my paw, cut of their ears as a prize and mark my territory before leaving. Yeah, I’m totally a Norwegian Forest Cat today, Nick.”

alex prager photo lighting for bottega veneta on guess the lighting blog

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

copyright, Alex Prager.

Alex Prager is hot stuff right now. If you haven’t heard of her (shame on you—less telly), you surely will. Her fine art work is brilliantly cinematic. She’s a sort of modern-day Cindy Sherman and has been exhibited at little museums like the MoMA and Whitney in New York City. When Bottega Veneta asked her to shoot their latest advertising campaign, they were rewarded with truly provocative imagery that doesn’t look like all the other current fashion ads. This particular execution (with a not-so-subtle nod to Hitchcock) was created with 2 HMI lights.

Camera: Contax 645 with 80mm lens and Kodak Portra 160NC film, handheld 12 feet back. Shot at 1/60, f8, ISO 100.

Lighting: To mimic and blend with the midday sunlight, Alex has set an Arri 12,000 watt fresnel HMI fifteen feet to camera right, up high and slightly behind the model. A one-stop silk in front helps to soften the light just a touch and create the attractive highlight on his face. An Arri 6,000 watt fresnel HMI with barn doors sits twelve feet to camera left and is positioned in front of the model and lower to help fill the shadows. To achieve this dynamic, upward angle, Alex must have built a stage for the model to stand on.

Comments: Shoot with live birds and you chance the occasional pooping. These pigeons possessed an almost supernatural aim. When the poor model was nicked three times within an hour, Alex told him it was good luck. He had his reservations until he won the local Pick 3 lottery the following day.