Sunday, January 31, 2010

Case Study: Light of the Legends

Victor Skrebneski shot this image of Diana Ross for the cover of her 1977 album, Baby It's Me. "I left the light in the frame because people always ask 'what kind of light do you use'," says Skrebneski. "So I figured I'd leave it in so that everyone could see how the lighting was done." Some of the most classic shots ever done are with just a single light source and the white seamless or a muslin cloth. Lets take a walk in the Supermodel era and before, to study some of the greatest legends use their favourite light.

Lets begin with the works of Richard Avedon. He shot mainly on the white seamless with a huge silver umbrella as is evident from most of his work. Sunlight remained a common favourite of all Pros. In his Portrait series, he made his assitants carry the white background and they set it up anywhere they found an intresting character to shoot, across rural America. More than the light used, Avedon was more about the subject in front of the camera. He was always involved and excited till the end of the photosession. He used to treat every shoot as a performance. Camera of choice wre the rolleiflex and an 8x10 view camera. Take a look at some of his classic early works below.

Another genius with black and white and natural light is Peter Lindbergh. He is famous for his grand hollywood style set up and use of H.M.I lights for his photography. His approach is very raw and in the moment street photography kind. He shoots around 8fps(frames per second) to get that perfect expression. The women supermodels depicted by him are very sensual and unpolished raw beauties. His style was iconic in the early 90's and defined that era. Camera of choice were Nikon Slrs and Pentax 6x7 during fim days. Currently Nikon Dslrs and Hasselblad H series with Phase One digital back.

Up next is Patrick Demarchelier. He along with Annie Leibovitz, have transformed and adapted themselves over the years. When looking at his work from the past era, you can witness the timline of fashion and photography trends over the years. His favourite source of light is the Octabox on a boom, which is used throughout the majority of his studio fashion and portrait work. Camera of choice were Hasselblad and Mamiya RZ67 during film days. Currently Canon Dslrs and Hasselblad H series with Phase One digital back.

Finally, lets take a look at the work of Paolo Roversi. He remains the master with unconventional lighting and processing till date. He used light painting techniques and long exposures for  most of his fashion shots. He is a user of hot lights like tungsten, and flash lights for painting and sculpting with light. Camera of choice is large format polaroids.

We'll leave you with some of our favourite books/DVD published by the above photographers.

Avedon Fashion 1944-2000Performance: Richard AvedonAmerican Masters - Richard Avedon: Darkness and Light

 10 Women by Peter LindberghPeter Lindbergh: StoriesPeter Lindbergh

Patrick DemarchelierPatrick Demarchalier: Exposing Elegance

Annie Leibovitz at WorkA Photographer's Life: 1990-2005Photographs Annie Leibovitz 1970-1990Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens

Skrebneski: The First Fifty Years Photographs : 1949-1999Five Beautiful WomenPaolo Roversi: Studio Nick Knight

Rio de JaneiroMario Testino: Portraits

Disclaimer: All photographs used in this article are copyright of their respective owners.

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