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Sorry for this interruption in your regularly scheduled lighting guessing. And for the shameless plug. But thanks to everyone was kind/gracious/fantastic enough to send pics of their pooches, I’m able to announce the launch of my latest guessing undertaking:

guess the pooch blog logo by ted sabarese

Guess the Pooch

It’s similar to this blog except it has absolutely nothing to do with lighting. I take fan-submitted pics of their lovable pooches and attempt to guess which doggies got together to create the mutt in question. I then create a brand new breed of dog (which will never be sanctioned by the American Kennel Club) and sketch it with the inglorious lack of detail you’ve come to expect.

I’ll only be guessing on pooches submitted by you, so please send some pics if you’d like me take a stab at guessing their lineage. It’s way cheaper than a DNA test, though most likely less correct.

Here are some examples of the newly developed breeds and corresponding drawings for you to peruse.

a new breed of dog on guess the pooch

a new breed of dog from guess the pooch

The new blog is just a wee baby but will grow like any puppy. With plenty of furniture chewing, sock eating and carpet wetting.

Okay, now back to light guessing. Promise.

Thanks for your continued support,

More updates on the way

September 5, 2012 — 14 Comments

It’s been a long time. A long, long time, fellow lighting guessers.

I could give you some excuses. Like:

  • I broke my drawing hand and it took 8 months to heal
  • I gave up the blog when I started guessing for a photography magazine
  • The economy
  • After seeing my drawing of her Sports Illustrated cover shot, Kate Upton whisked me away to a private island to create a daily photo library of her in bikinis two sizes too small
  • My internet was down
  • A Murder, She Wrote / Angela Lansbury addiction

All of which would be prevarications.

The truth is, well, I’m not exactly sure why. I have been busy with some things, for sure. But that’s an excuse, too.

Lots of fans have written with wonderfully-kind things to say. Some have even pleaded for me to continue on. They’ve even offered to help out and draw. The response to my absence was unexpected, to say the least. All of that kindness has convinced me to get back into the proverbial saddle (powered by Wacom) and do what I do best. Guess lighting. And draw in a mediocre fashion.

I won’t post daily, but I’ll try to post at least once or twice a week. Starting tomorrow.

See you there.


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, 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?


ted sabarese photo lighting diagram sorry illustration on guess the lighting

GTL, will you ever forgive me? I brought you into this world and cared for you tenderly. Then suddenly dropped off and left you to fend for yourself. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t right.

But I’m back.

Actually, it wasn’t that I had lost any love for GTL. Or was caught in mountain cave. Or had gone on a sixty day computer fast. It’s more of a good news/bad news thing. The good news is that i’ve been busy. Very busy. I recently wrapped up shooting an international photo library for a group of big brands. And I’ve been plugging away on a personal photo project. The bad news is that I’ve barely had time to open mail, get a haircut and, least of all, blog.

Since things have calmed some and I’ve caught up with those neglected day-to-day tasks, I’m ready to saddle up and get my guess back on.

Thanks so much to everyone who wrote in with support and pleads to not abandon GTL. I’m happy this material makes you happy.

Now back to my Wacom.

*SPOILER ALERT* Don’t read any further if you’d still like to try to guess who the two photographers are. If you have already guessed or have no idea what I’m talking about, read on.


terry richardson meat skirt lady gaga

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram of terry richardson lady gaga meat skirt on guess the lighting

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram of hunger pains on guess the lighting

copyrights, Terry Richardson (left), Ted Sabarese (right)

So there you have it. Terry shot the meat Gaga and I shot the meat skirt with potato skin top. But how?

GAGA: This Japan Vogue cover inspired the Lady’s full-on beef evening gown at the MTV Music Awards. Terry created it with one, on-camera speedlight.

Camera: Nikon D3x with 50mm lens, handheld. Shot at 1/60, f5.6, ISO 100.

Lighting: One on-camera flash. Lots of assistants watching.

Comments: The meat dress was originally more filled out, but Lady Gaga snacked on the mid-section when craft services ran out of Goobers.

MEAT SKIRT: This image from my “Hunger Pains” series is one of five outfits representing a meal that the model was craving. It was created with two lights. And this isn’t a guess.

Camera: Hasselblad H1 with 80mm lens and Leaf Aptus 75 back, set on a tripod 12 feet back.

Lighting: The key light is a gridded, white beauty dish at f11 six feet to camera left and eight feet high. The fill light is a large strip bank at f4 1/2 (-2 1/2 stops) with the bottom half flagged to keep the focus on the model’s face. It’s set six feet to camera right and slightly in front.

Comments: Watch the behind-the-scenes video.

I’ve received a bunch of questions asking what I mean when I say things like:

“The key light is a silver beauty dish at f11”

“Another medium softbox at f2.8 is four feet to camera right”

“The fill is a medium strip at f5.6”

All of these f-stop numbers are the individual light levels your light meter will read at the listed shutter speed and ISO. For example, if I’ve stated that the image was shot at 1/125, ISO 100, the f-stop number (i.e. octabank at f8) is what that octabank reads on your meter, with those settings, when fired.

I don’t comment on the power level of the actual light pack because that won’t do us much good in recreating the lighting setup. Power levels are arbitrary and vary depending on too many things (pack power, distance of light from subject, light modifiers, etc.).

Hope that helps more than confuses. If someone can explain it better, please take a crack at it.

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram of octabank on guess the lighting blog


Starting today, I’ll post in a new, simplified format. No more of the automatic picture slideshow. If you were a huge fan of that, much apologies. I think the new look allows you to better compare the photo with the lighting diagram. And some older computers didn’t handle the slideshow very well.

The post will be up shortly. Let me know what you think.

Well, here it goes. Time to  scour the internet for cool images and methodically and scientifically figure out the photo lighting setups. I can’t divulge my entire method, but I will say it involves an iPad, an analog calculator with paper tape, trigonometry, a large loupe, 2 interns and a light meter (of course).

Please feel free to comment. Let me know if you’re 100% convinced or if you beg to differ. If you’re the artist who created the image, give us the whole scoop. And if you have a pic you’d like me to work on, email it over.

Let the “guessing” commence [sound of gong follows].

Ted Sabarese of Ted Sabarese Photography