A guess at the lighting…

Every now and then I like to do a google image search for my name and see what pops up. It can be interesting, amusing and sometimes a little distressing to see where my pictures have wandered off to on the interweb all by themselves. Last night I happened across one of my shots on GuessTheLighting.com, a blog run by Ted Sabarese who I have never met. I think all photographers try to break down the lighting when looking at pictures to a certain extent, and Ted decided to create a blog about it. I was a little taken aback at first to see lighting diagrams because I thought maybe we had worked together or something but then after reading the details I realized he was in fact just guessing, as is the point of his site. He is pretty close on quite a few things and others, especially the comment section is pure speculation and meant as a joke I’m sure. I made a few corrections so it’s no longer just a guess.

Ted writes:

This hyper-sharp, seemingly pencil-sketched portrait of Clint Eastwood for the recent Mandela Day campaign was created with 4 lights. True

Camera: Nikon D3x with 135mm 80-200mm f2.8 lens, handheld 6 10ft feet back from Clint. Shot at 1/125 250, f11 16, ISO 100.

Lighting (Clint): Crisp, punchy lighting like this can only be achieved with bare bulbs and no diffusion. True. The key light is a grid reflector at f11 16 with a 40 30 degree grid, boomed 3 1.5 ft feet above camera and 4 feet from Clint’s head Just above Clint’s face and just out of frame. Overall fill is achieved with an on-camera ring flash at f4 1/2.81/2 Two small strip lights white beauty dishes at f16 are 5 feet behind him, positioned camera left and right and above. Two v-flats have been set to focus the light on his head and medium black flags block any potential lens flare. The strips white beauty dishes lend strong highlights to his hair and shoulders. There is a black duvateen background.

Lighting (Hand): The lighting for Clint’s hand is nearly identical Not really except that the two strip lights have been replaced with two normal reflectors and aimed at the white background. True. The key light has been lowered below the hand and pointed slightly upward. Nope, It’s just Ring flash. There is a 6’x6′ black piece of duvateen with an 11″x14″ square cut out of it for his hand to block flare from the background.

Comments: When Clint arrived at the studio, he asked Scott what he was looking for. Scott said he wanted a combination of Dirty Harry, Bronco Billy and Josey Wales, but without the shooting him in the face part. Not Exactly. This was shot at the Beverly Hills Hotel for Nelson Mandela’s foundation 46664. Clint, like most people, does not seem to enjoy having his pictures taken all that much and this is actually the first frame of the shoot as he had just stepped into position on set and was not super enthused about being there. He soon loosened up and I have lot’s of frames of him with a nice friendly smile but this one captures that “Dirty Harry, Bronco Billy and Josey Wales” thing we all know and love so much. The shots of the hand is just him messing around. For the campaign we shot just the palm of his hand facing the camera and after a few frames of that he started improvising.

6 Responses to “A guess at the lighting…”

  1. Katie

    Wow, he’s a lot closer than I thought he was! Give’s him a little more credit, glad you responded to it! I love that blog. Obviously great capture of Clint here. I remember working on your portfolio books at Lost Luggage when I interned there a while back, they were epic! I’ve always admired your work Scott, was super exciting to hear your technique 🙂

    All good wishes,
    ~Katie W

  2. ted

    hey scott. thanks for being such a good sport and for taking the time to give the full details. awesome freakin campaign, my man. keep up the good work.


  3. Scott McDermott

    Thanks, Katie. I appreciate that. Nice job on the portfolios too.
    Tim, no problem and thanks for the kind words.

  4. samyell

    Hey Scott,
    Love the photo & it’s a great insight to see how you did it – Thanks! What a great photo & campaign.
    P.S I had to double take on your handwriting of Clint in your set up…the L & I are very close maybe creating a U! I’m not sure sure what Mr.Eastwood would think of that! heh

  5. Sherwin D

    Awesome Awesome Awesome, way to give back Scott, I’m a big fan of Ted’s site and to see someone take the time to explain there shot, just proves we are all in this together. Keep up the great work. I am adding this site to my Reader just in case you decide to share more of your photo knowledge and setups.
    Thanks Again…


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