View Full Version : lighting question

david clark
28-Nov-2005, 23:15
Recently, in October Esquire mag, I saw a photograph by Gergory Crewdson. The title was Maple Street. A google search informs me that he uses an 8x10 camera, and the picture is obviously in color. I guess what ever they are using for film is scanned as the prints are chromogenic digital or something? He also uses motion picture type lighting.

My question is, how many f-stops of light will this method accomidate? Usually a person figures paper will hold - what 7? Can anyone tell me how many stops he is getting in this night time or twilight series he did? Is there a tremendous range in these prints, or is it an illusion created by professional lighting?

Paul Cocklin
29-Nov-2005, 00:54

Apparently he's got a lot of production stills to sell, as well. Very nice image, but I don't think the range is much over five stops; it looks to me like the lighting is set to the same ratios for the different areas of illumination. But then again, I'm no expert. Someone here will know a lot more than me.


Antonio Corcuera
29-Nov-2005, 01:44
Crewdson uses heavy cinema lighting gear - all his photos highly choreographed and staged. He probably has a good bunch of people working with him rigging around the stuff. I also believe there is a lot of digital manipulation too. His photographs are mysterious and beautiful, clearly influenced by Jeff Wall, Cindy Sherman, David Lynch and film noire.

some links for copy paste:

Michael Gudzinowicz
29-Nov-2005, 04:56
His methodology is reviewed in the following article:


Since he employs a production crew, cinematographer, lighting specialists,
camera operator, and digital lab, it's reasonable to believe that the lighting
does not push the limits of the color neg film - otherwise, the lab's digital
combination of negatives might be tricky.

Frank Petronio
29-Nov-2005, 07:00
In larger cities you can rent an entire grip truck and crew to light your set. Each of Crewdson's shots might cost $50K each, and he gets Hollywood talent to pose. Nice gig...

david clark
29-Nov-2005, 08:08
Is the rule of thumb for color prints 5 stops?

Ralph Barker
29-Nov-2005, 11:38
David, there are really two factors to consider - what the film will record, and what the target reproduction medium can handle. Color negative film has a bit more range - perhaps 7 stops or so, while transparency is closer to four or five. If the target presentation medium is print, however, most commercial shooters will adjust lighting to keep the range to about 4 stops, as that's about all you can get out of a conventianally-printed page.

david clark
29-Nov-2005, 14:13
Part II of my question.

If the range of the print is about 4 stops, then how do you technically create the illusion of a full scale? I mean, technically I know that some prints have to have a narrow range of 4 to 5 stops, that is 'a given' due to the neg/print combination, but when I view the print it looks like it has a long scale. How do they achieve this illusion? Thanks for the info.

Michael Ting
29-Nov-2005, 22:24
"After the photograph is taken, Crewdson continues his obsessive process in post-production, using state-of-the-art digital composting and special effects. "

Well, with digital, and a relatively still picture like that, you can always shoot two-three chromes and blend in post. That'll accomodate quite a lot of stops. As to creating illusion of a fulll scale, it's relatively easy to do in post production. There are a lot of methods you can go through in photoshop to achieve the same effect, so you can't be quite sure which route they use in the post.