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Time Magazine Portrait Lighting Style


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#1 Brian Rose

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 11:00 PM

Time Magazine has lately been employing a fascinating style of portrait photography, often for its covers. It's often not terribly flattering to the subject, because it brings out the pores and the imperfections of the face, but I think it could be perfect for a planned interview for a new documentary I am undertaking.

I love it for its interrogatory feel, like a light being shined directly in the face. It is intimate, startlingly so, and most of all, it eschews the staid, traditional form of lighting, the 45 degree key light with back and fill, the 3 point set up. I like that the contrast ratio is effectively 1:1.

This link will take you to an example of the style, taken of Governor Chris Christie:

Chris Christie Time Magazine

My first question is: how is this lighting effect achieved
And the second is, it is practical for cinematography? My meaning being, it is one thing to have the subject positioned for precise lighting, for all of a few seconds. Would this lighting be practical for a multihour interview?

Thanks!

BR
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#2 Benjamin Davis

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Posted 25 April 2011 - 12:23 AM

Note: I'm going to be simultaneously writing this while I'm looking at the picture you linked in your post.

The lighting has one direct key source, which causes the main highlights to be on the man's top left cheek, forehead, and left side of his nose.
The rest begins to diffuse along the curvatures of his face and his clothes. There is most likely a single HMI light diffused with a softbox, or a single light pointed at a diffusion board that reflects the light back onto him, or a simple single umbrella light located just barely to the top-front-left of him. Since there is no fill light (the light that fills in the shadows usually caused by the key light) it creates shadows amongst the texture of the skin, emphasizing the detail and texture of the skin.

After that, you can see that the man's face seems desaturated compared to his red tie that nearly pops out of the picture. There are two possible reasons for this: 1) His skin tone throughout his face and lips are quite pale-tobacco/yellow looking. 2) The photo editors sponged his face in Photoshop and took out a lot of the saturation in the face but not in the tie, to represent a very subliminal "patriotic message." Knowing TIME, the 2nd reason is incredibly likely. After that, if you look at the background, it appears to have a vignette from the single light source, closing the picture nicely and bringing all of the intention on the smiling man.

Would it be useful for a formal interview lighting style? Possibly, but it may become incredibly distracting to the interviewee if a bright light that close to him/her is shining in their face, and they probably wouldn't be able to see you. If it's for a staged interview in a film, you can easily set up the shot to work with that lighting. Just be sure to keep continuity as to where the source of the light is coming from if you're switching between a master-shot and a closeup.

Hope that helps!
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#3 David Desio

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Posted 28 April 2011 - 09:19 AM

if you look closely you'll see 2 points of light reflected in his eyes. One being the key, the other a subtle fill from the lower left. probably a bounced source for the fill and a strong key. maybe they bounced the key from the fill side to bring up the shadows but there are absolutely 2 sources working here on the face.
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#4 robert duke

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Posted 29 April 2011 - 11:23 PM

1 its an HDR photo.

2 the key light is a softbox at a 45 from the subject, telltale nose shadow and the reflection of the fixture in the eye.

3 there is a bounce fill low and opposite the key.

4 the contrast is not 1:1

HDR video?

the lighting in the photo is not very different than any other interview lighting. the photo processing is what is different. you might look for a cross process or bleach by pass process (film) or emulate it in post.
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#5 Nathan Blair

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Posted 04 May 2011 - 04:24 PM

This is just speculation, but it looks to me like they may have used a sharpening effect in addition to HDR
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#6 Josef Heks

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 05:13 AM

What are the telltale signs here that this is HDR as opposed to just post?
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#7 hans gruber

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 11:17 AM

Being a photographer, i can tell you its not an hdri… its made with a slightly distanced beauty dish as key light and two bouncers from the sides.
afterwards it was desaturated and sharpend by unsharp mask, also the closes have been dodged and burnt and the middle paort of his face got dodged to brighten it up and make it a bit more contrasty.


sry for my english im from germany but i hope you understood ;)
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#8 Ed Conley

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 11:37 AM

Being a photographer, i can tell you its not an hdri… its made with a slightly distanced beauty dish as key light and two bouncers from the sides.
afterwards it was desaturated and sharpend by unsharp mask, also the closes have been dodged and burnt and the middle paort of his face got dodged to brighten it up and make it a bit more contrasty.


sry for my english im from germany but i hope you understood ;)


I was thinking Beauty Dish or Large Octabox, Broncolor para or similar and the Phog is standing right in front of the Reflector.

Anyhoo- k5600 has some adapters that will allow you to use the profoto Brand of light modifiers on their 400 and 800's.

Edited by Ed Conley, 06 May 2011 - 11:38 AM.

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