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Mario Testino's photo lighting for British Vogue on guess the lighting blog

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram of mario testino guess the lighting blog

copyright, Mario Testino.

In a Vogue issue paying homage to the Royal Wedding, Mario shot Freja Beha Erichsen, Lara Stone and Natalia Vodianova in some of the season’s loveliest wedding gowns. It also marked the first time the magazine had been published with a choice of three different covers. This silk soft cover shot of Lara was created with five lights.

Camera: Hasselblad H2 with 150mm lens and Phase One IQ140 digital back, set on a tripod 12 feet back. Shot at 1/125, f5.6, ISO 50.

Lighting: The overall lighting is somewhat flat with highlights taking the place of shadow. An Arri 1200 watt fresnel (shot through a silk) with tight barn doors at f4 ½ (-½ stop) sits at head level, just off to camera left. A 2500 watt fresnel at f5.6 is bounced off an overhead 6×6 framed silk from camera right. This helps to even out Lara’s hair. A 2500 watt fresnel (shot through a silk) at f11 (+2 stops) rests ten feet behind her to camera right and creates the hot, soft glow on the rear of her face and neck. Another 2500 watt fresnel (shot through a silk) at f11 (+2 stops) is placed to camera right, slightly behind her. A 2500 watt fresnel with barn doors at f11 (+2 stops) is set behind the wall to camera left and aimed at the background. This creates the angelic glow around her head.

Comments: Lara was slightly jet-lagged, but extremely excited on the shoot day. She had just returned that morning from Vyborg, Russia where she picked up a newborn, petite lap giraffe. The wee giraffe quickly made itself comfortable on-set and huddled against Mario’s pant leg while he worked with Lara. Natalia was smitten.

mario testino's photo lighting of giselle bundchen on guess the lighting

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram of giselle bundchen on guess the lighting blog

copyright, Mario Testino

I guess I’ll stick with Gisele for another moment and guess how Mario lit this seemingly sun-soaked image for the Pirelli calendar with 3 lights. I’ll even throw in my thoughts on how he lit maid arranging the flowers.

Camera: Pentax 67 ii with 100mm lens and Kodak Portra 400vc film, on a tripod 8 feet back. Shot at 1/30, f5.6, ISO 400.

Lighting: The room is obviously getting a decent amount of sunlight from the large, open window in the back left (subsequently, that’s the only light illuminating our diligent maid), but that’s not what’s making Gisele pop so strongly from the dark background. The key light is a small, white umbrella at f5.6 four feet to camera left, waist-high to Gisele. Mario covered the bulb with a Rosco pale yellow gel to add a sunny, Rio de Janeiro glow, indoors. A normal reflector with grid at f11 is positioned behind and to camera left of the model, adding a nice glow to her hair and highlights on her outside torso and leg. Another normal reflector with grid at f11 sits behind, low and to camera right of Gisele, creating the highlight on her left leg.

Comments: This shot was originally scheduled outside on a vintage, wooden, Chris-Craft triple-cockpit speedboat. Unfortunately, Mario came down with the whooping cough and was laid up for a couple days. This is his hotel room where he rolled out of bed for the shot. Gisele isn’t intentionally covering her breast, but wiping off the remnants of a Mario sneeze.