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John Locke November 24th, 2004 10:54 PM

Annie Liebowitz and portable location lighting
I love Annie Liebowitz and have been wondering two things about how she comes up with those great dusk shots with electric blue skies...so I have two questions:

1. Is she white-balancing for tungsten and using a tungsten-temp light but then shooting outdoor? That's the only thing I can imagine considering how blue the sky is and how golden warm the subjects are.

2. What would you guys recommend for portable location lighting? I've been going back and forth between two or three Canon flashes set up as slaves (due to that setup being so small compared to lighting kits) and then traditional battery/light kits such as Novatron. I'd like to get something as flexible as possible.

Thanks for any advice!

Jeff Donald November 24th, 2004 11:02 PM

Look at the Norman portable systems and the Quantum Qflash. I know the owner of quantum Instruments, used to do trade shows for him. Their products are very under rated, but would be my first choice. Norman is all top notch gear and you won't go wrong either way. The Canon gear is very pricey, but probably the most portable.

John Locke November 25th, 2004 09:59 AM

Good information! Thanks!

Yeah...I was a bit put off by the priciness of an all 550 EX system...but then I found this. You gotta admit...that's a pretty good price. And since I already have one 550 EX and light stands that might be the most economical way to go.

I'll be looking at the Norman and QFlash systems carefully, though.

So what do you think about the white-balancing? I've never tried it. I figure using a gold reflector to bounce the flash and setting the white balance for tungsten would get the electric blue sky. I just wonder if the subject is going to be way too warm this way.

Steven Digges November 26th, 2004 09:24 PM

Hi John,

Annie has been creating that look way before anyone had a still camera that could be white balanced. Here is my guess, and just a guess. The right film, filtered (maybe polarized just for the saturation), and slightly underexposed. Once that is set for the background exposure her army of assistants balance the subjects lighting with an array of studio tools and techniques.

Flash. After posting a diatribe about buying quality lenses a few minutes ago this should make a few people question what I do. My camera bags guerilla kit is a 550EX and a Vivitar 285 (circa 1985) with a $5.00. peanut slave to get the off camera look in a hurry, works for me. My studio light kit is a 3 head 500 WS Novatron kit I purchased in 1987 for $400.00. I thought I would use it “just to learn lighting”. It is still in use today. It has paid for itsself so many times over it is ridiculous; I used to hope it would break so I could replace it with something cool. I got over that, now I laugh and say that when it does break I am going to bronze the heads and hang them on my wall to remind me it is not the gear but the craftsman that matters. With that said I will note that I am not a studio photographer with a need for the cool stuff. I am an event coverage guy, the Novatron serves my needs for those occasions when my work requires it, or I use it for my own pleasure.

Get that 550EX kit, a 580EX to go with it, and then let me know how you like it!


John Locke December 2nd, 2004 03:11 PM

Although I never tried it, I guessed that back in the pre-digital age, she would use tungsten film and shoot at dusk with tungsten balanced lighting, thus achieving the same effect.

Thanks for the recommendations. I'm checking into everything now. I also found one interesting location kit called the "Intergalactic Bee." Pretty decent price for all that you get.

Gareth Watkins December 3rd, 2004 03:01 AM

God Vivitar 285????? Now there's a piece of kit from the Arc...

Used the good old 283 for years... until the hotshoe mounts invariably broke.... usually in a press photographers bun fight..push and shove. Or got ripped off by a police man... (happened to me once)

RE: Studio lighting a great portable kit is the Lumidyne sets.. Mine fits into a small Lowepro rucksack....



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