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Michael Thompson's photo lighting of Rihanna for GQ on guess the lighting blog

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram of rihanna for gq on guess the lighting blog

copyright, Michael Thompson.

Rihanna may currently be entangled in a dab of plagiarism controversy over her latest video, but that doesn’t take away from the utter sexiness seeping from this January 2010 GQ cover. Michael’s soft, backlighting paints a glamorous yet angelic picture of this rock and roll siren. Five strobes did the trick.

Camera: Hasselblad H3D-39 and 100mm lens, handheld 10 feet back. Shot at 1/125, f8, ISO 50.

Lighting: The main light sources come from the sides and behind. A large softbox at f16 ½ (+2 ½ stops) is positioned behind a framed, one-stop diffusion silk to camera left and behind Rihanna. Another large softbox at f8 ½ (+ ½ stop) with framed silk sits similarly to camera right. A medium softbox at f5.6 (-1 stop) sits four feet to camera left and eight feet high. Two white umbrellas at f11 (+1 stop) light the white background from both camera right and left, in the rear.

Comments: Both avid potholers, Michael and Rihanna spent a good part of the shoot discussing their favorite secret caverns, halogen vs. LED helmet lights and whether a figure-of-eight knot was stronger than an alpine butterfly. All of which helped distract Rihanna from the fact her shorts, although very cool, wouldn’t zip up all the way.

michael thompson's photo lighting of juliianne moore on guess the lighting

The Grand Odalisque on guess the lighting blog

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

copyright, Michael Thompson.

This portrait taken in 2003 for the cover of American Photograph magazine pays tribute to Jean-Auguste Ingres’ famous 19th-century painting La Grande Adalisque. Michael was originally supposed to shoot Julianne in a couture dress, but was so inspired by her flawless skin he switched directions. To this day, there is much debate over which is sexier. My two cents: who cares?

This is lit with one (count it, one) light.

Camera: Pentax 67 II with 90mm lens and Kodak Portra 160 film, set on a tripod 10 feet back. Shot at 1/30, f8, ISO 100.

Lighting: The key light is a large octabank at f8 set eight feet to camera left and slightly in front. Michael added an extra diffuser to soften the light even more.

Comments: The final select here was taken moments before the scraggly tree caught on fire (the prop stylist had positioned it too close to the oil lamp). Which then fell into the blue curtain, which set ablaze. No one was hurt and the fire was quickly extinguished, but many happy onlookers ogled in joy as a naked Julianne Moore ran outside the studio. “Wow, she really does have amazing skin,” was heard more than once.