Deconstruct This Photo

One of the ways that helped me learn to create the kind of pictures I wanted to create from a technical standpoint was by trying to reverse engineer the work of others… work that was my friends, that was the photography masters, or, even just cool images I’d seen in magazines. I’d sit there for hours considering what might be at work. It’s a good exercise in trying to understand both the technical stuff AND it can inform the creative for sure.

As such, if anyone is willing to take some stabs, I’d love to know what you think is at work – front to back – in creating this image. Consider lighting, mood, exposures, set build or location, what direction I could be giving the model or anything else you think is relevant. I’ll tell you as much as I can recall about what is actually at work in a follow-up post and maybe kick out a high five or something else to someone who gets closest.

[update: the full story on this image has been revealed here.]

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MiKy says:

a coupple of beer and…
two light
high angle camera
woman on the floor
more beer
paint the floor in post
and enjoy with 200 guys whom are without nothing to do


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Anonymous says:


I don't have a lot of experience getting picky with other peoples photos but I guess I can pretend I am client of yours looking for something of this "nature'

I have not read other peoples posts in hopes not to be swayed by anything they may have wrote or noticed before me.

First off I am a fan and love your vignette(s) and the mist or fog that rolls over the mountain on the right side of this shot. Great rich color with an almost faded look.

I am sure many people have commented on the position of the person within the photo. Unique and artistic? I want to say its for the better but I dunno… its a bit too "confusing" and misleading with the person so close to the edge. I am not sure what this picture is trying to convey.. what message or emotion is supposed to come of this shot with a person with their hands on their head. Not stretching, not enjoying the air…

The lighting is nice coming from camera left and helps bring the subject out from the background. The face looks a bit too washed out and slightly dissapears into the sky behind.

The slope behind the persons back meets up and continues the line through the picture. Not sure if you intended this but it works great and avoids distraction since it meets the split in the shirt and pants.

Finally, I feel like something is missing from this photo. Another feature or subject in the foreground on the right third of the shot may help some balance. A bit more blue in the top right corner to match the left top may add some balance as well.

Great use of shape otherwise. If this shot were to be used with text I would be happy with the space you left me. I think I would rather have the subject face the camera more or at least choose a different pose???

I would love to hear you own feedback and intentions with this photo after looking at it in so much detail!

Thanks Chase. I am coming to Seattle for a few days in the end of August. I hope to stop by for a handshake to meet you. I hope you are around.

Take care!

Kurt Stenberg

tinutz says:

its a stolen shot!a snapshot?:P
shying away from a not so interesting view from the far left side so u focused on the steamy mountains instead,a bit breaking the rulez but it worked.

its d wonders of natural light & chase jarvis without a tripod.
id probably get a kick..hehe

Martin says:


I just love much and most of the work Jarvis is doing but i did not like this photo, and i am not to write it?
I don' t see the point! For the quality of this photo, i really don't!!!
But this is just me then! Sorry it will not happen again:(

sorry to you all if hurt you in any way!





Anonymous says:

as a very ignorant beginner, this is my take

the sun is coming from the upper left (maybe 9am?) and a strobe is pointing towards the sky and the mountain, but away from the model. this causes the sky and mountain to be blown out, but allows the model to keep some volume and detail, as well as some relatively sharp shadows on her back.

I do think there is some compression in the photo, but I think that the "excessive" light makes it appear greater than it actually is. Therefore, I don't think a very large tele was used. maybe something in the range of 75mm?

It does look like an advertising piece. It could be anything…probably insurance?

Finally, I do like the photo, including the "blown out" effect, although it is a bit too blown out and vignetted (post-processing?) for my taste (however, if it is an advertising photo, my taste is way less relevant than your client's needs :) )

This is my ignorant's photographer opinion. :)

thanks for the excersise.

My 2 cents

Looks like a long lense – around the 200 – 300mm mark.
Assuming it's @200mm i'd give it an aperture of approx f/5.6-8

It looks natural apart from the fact there's no obvious shadow of the girl in the frame.

The sunlight looks like it's coming from 45% behind and to the left of the girl (to her right from her perspective)

I recon it's a composit of 2 images.
1 where the girl isn't there
and 1 where she's in place with either 2 CTO strobes in front or perhaps a tall reflector redirecting the sun.

Whatever it is lighting her, she looks close to it which will help with a quick fall-off in light

Also a strobe or reflector from behind camera right to fill in her shadow side a bit. It's a bit dim, so probably a strobe

Direction would be to tell the girl to imagine she's been in the cold shade and now is soaking up the heat from the sun and breathing in the purest air she's ever tasted …. now turn your left foot 45% towards me, but keep your head that way, chin up a little and *snap*snap*

Pack up and go home wih a few beers :o)


jeremy says:

i'm sitting in a garage in nh waiting for my car to be done, so my brain is a frazzle…but when i look at the shot, i get the feeling like you had just done a bunch of shots, model runing into frame, ect ect…you had just yelled wrap on the shoot and you looked over to catch the model in this candid wonderful moment, and you went "click"…and in that second, lighting, direction, nothing mattered but using your intinct and capture the moment with a little bbit of luck.

Chase, thanks for the invite. To all, I have not read anyone's comments, so the break-down below is my own, but it may accidentally share concepts with others. I will divide mine into concept/composition, the shoot, and post-process.

The concept/composition
What is unusual is that she is facing out of frame in profile. This "breaks the rules" and is atypical. However, it make the viewer wonder what she sees that I do not. It leaves the story of the image open for the viewer to interpret. She is also turn her back on the "fog of life" and facing "into the light". This may be intentional to underscore the joy found in athletics. The image is clearly aiming for the "solitary enojyment through excersise" genre that speaks strongly to women and is currently quite popular. The negative space on the right side leaves plenty of room for copy, which advertisers love. Lastly, the model on the left is balanced well by the mountain on the right instead of leaving completely open space. The mountain keeps the photo from sliding to the right.

The shoot
I will start with lighting. I don't believe she is in real sunshine. Instead, it appears as though the key light from the left is a bare strobe deliberately meant to mimic the sun. Model placed in the hard light for composition reasons above, plus brightness attracts the eye. Likely there is a fill from the front to cut the hard shadows slightly. Lens was a big gun shot wide open from a distance to add bokeh and reduce distraction. Blurred foreground and background was deliberately included to give the photo strong depth. Model instructed to stand with feet apart to give a powerful stance.

I am betting that it was a cloudy day and that the sky was blown out in the shot. The blue vignetting was added in post to suggest a sunny morning. The mountain is the background is taller and would have been in the sun. I am also betting that the bokeh was enhanced in post to further reduce distraction. Almost like a tilt-shift lens. The field of view is almost too broad for that level of bokeh both fore and aft. Lastly, the colors were kept rich in the foreground to attact the eye, but potentially reduced on the mountain to lower any distraction and provide a better foundation for copy.

So, that's how I see the image. I think I am pretty close. If I am not, I know that the above is what I need to reproduce a similar shot.

If you don't do this execise regularly, I recommend starting. Deconstruction has really helped me to grow. Cheers!

Marc Lebryk says:

So I'm sure that someone has said what I'm going to say but at 100+ comments I'm just going to throw it out there.

200-400mm F4 @F4 400mm

Looks like it was shot between 11 and 2 One light to camera left in a softbox, one harsh light far to camera right very low, to give the ever so slightly highlight on the back of her legs and the rest of her. Probably a SB900 Speedlight zoomed to 200mm would be my guess.

That's a boomerang in the dark for sure.

Nick Davison says:

Here goes my attempt Chase.

Medium telephoto lens used from a lowish angle, possibly 70-200mm range.
Aperture kept quite wide, F2.8 to F4 to give shallow depth of field. Model asked to look as if just resting after walking/running/climbing up the hill/mountain.
Model asked to turn 90 degrees to the camera looking out of the frame almost fully towards the sun which is coming from 45 degrees behind the rocky outcrop to the left.
Flash was used to camera left as the main light to light the model with daylight acting as fill, with possibly some weak fill in flash from the camera position.
The background is in shade and appears to be low cloud, smoke, water spray from a waterfall or mist hiding a forested valley and the sky above it is just a white mist/cloud area with some sky visible but over exposed so the colour is lost.

Post processing:
Increased saturation
vignette added

My brain has now given up at this point!

André Sousa says:

Martin, you pay attention to what your camera warns you not to do? Where does that leave you creativity?

After all that's been said, I'm going to forget the technical aspects. I like the fact that she's looking out of the frame, and I bet most of the people who work in magazines or advertising would like it to. They need some space to place text, remember?

The mood? Well, I know very few people who go for a run on a mountain that high, where altitude makes for the appearance of vapor, so a mood of bravery and challenging one self is my guess.

I don't know if Chase gave any directions at all, but i imagine something like "imagine it's the first time you get to see the sunlight, feel it's warmth"

And I get the feeling of a South American location, something that always makes my day.

Good one, Chase.

Martin says:

Hi CJ!

If i would have taken this, all the ones i know would say: uuhhh!!

"I thought you are a photograph"

To bright, not good colours.
this must have made warnings in the camera when you took it.
Why did "you" keep it?

Are you testing us?

Just my side of it.

But i´m not famous;)



'Doc' says:

Hi Chase,

Tsc of here. I'll take a shot:

The sun is at around 10 or 11 am and coming from the models front left quarter being used mostly as fill – small shadow behind model and foreground grass indicates the high sun, I think morning because of the patchy cloud and that the whole thing "feels" cool like morning as opposed to high afternoon sun; Main Light is battery pack strobe perhaps bear to give the strong high light suggestive of a typical ealy morning concept.

The cloud in the bg is a smokey fire with a slight wind from left to right. The field of view is approx. 3 meters (15 feet) so a relatively long lens was used, focused on the foreground to through the model into soft focus and everything else into blur. Ths dark bg shadows comes from the fact that the day was patchy and overcast. The model was directed to "embrase the morning light, so to speak, either by yoga, stretching, etc.

I think you probably had about 3-4 assistants, walky-talkies for coms, makeup, hair and wardrobe, and not a lot of time to play around with this.


LB says:

So lovely. To capture what seems like a convergence of simple things…shot near ocean hills, camera set up nearly on the ground, lens wide open, focus at 10 feet, 3 second exposure, natural light. To model: close your eyes and bask in the solar eclipse

Anonymous says:

PC-E 24 tilted 8 degress right (not left), wide open and focus on the subject?

Sam Robles says:

Leading lines, shapes, depth of the field, softness and simplicity.
It could be done in studio and than mixed up with the background or one light on the left outside the frame to give that nice high light on the person and the sun takes care of the rest.
Very inspiring image!

Sam Robles

Ok Chase, I think this is what went down:

The scene was taken when the sun was low, perhaps morning or evening. I believe it was around 7:00 to 8:30 in the morning. The mist is part of the morning fog and this is why the background is blown out. The girl is facing toward the sun. She is standing at the edge of a sudden drop of landscape and this is why the majority of shadow of the girl is missing. Also the shot was taken slightly low which reduces the evidence of shadow. The landscape on the right side of the girl is in shadow because of higher landscape that can not be seen. Chase I believe you were using your 70-200 mm at f2.8 to create the shallow depth of field. I am guessing at a focal length of at least 150mm. Ok maybe I got it wrong too and my eyes are just crossed from staring at your image!!! :)


Jeff Borisen says:

Ok Chase, I think this is what went down:

The scene was taken when the sun was low, perhaps morning or evening. I believe it was around 7:00 to 8:30 in the morning. The mist is part of the morning fog and this is why the background is blown out. The girl is facing toward the sun. She is standing at the edge of a sudden drop of landscape and this is why the majority of shadow of the girl is missing. Also the shot was taken slightly low which reduces the evidence of shadow. The landscape on the right side of the girl is in shadow because of higher landscape that can not be seen. Chase I believe you were using your 70-200 mm at f2.8 to create the shallow depth of field. I am guessing at a focal length of at least 150mm. Ok maybe I got it wrong too and my eyes are just crossed from staring at your image!!! :)


Ghislain says:

I'm thinking that you did in fact use a stobe to light her front. I think maybe the light came from the back right side of the picture. White in the middle could be caused by the fog but the sky was actually blue. The shadown on the grass behind her is the shadow of the mountains in the back right side.

Now I would need to test something. If the light actually comes from behind her, her back shouldn't be all dark so it this darken in photoshop or the flash created that shadow because it was more powerful? I need to test this.

85mm @ 5.6, Long throw flash way back at left to light field with early morning light, probably another flash in close with med reflector to light model from left of frame.
The alternative to above is that it is all naturally lit! though the mist doesn't appear to be sunlit. Also her shadow is missing which suggests either two flashes cancelling out shadow or she was stripped onto the landscape frame in post.
Looks like a New Zealand landscape but that's a real long-shot.
Adrian Malloch

Alex says:

post processing wise. Maybe you used the selective color tool for the blues and cyans, the shirt and the sky have been processed. The green in the grass has been brightened, not just from the sun. Also you increased the blacks or contrast. Around the corners you used maybe a soft light technique to darken them. The corners also have no distortion, so either the lens was extended or this shot is cropped. probably used a soft box on the person and the sun comes from behind the person from the back of the mountains becuase you can see part of the hill in the background exposed but the dark shadows on some of the plants show it could not have come from the front of the scene. I would guess its mid morning becuase of the low fog and the location of the sun.

Just a guess

Jim Luning says:

Shift Tilt and Med box or beauty dish.

Paul Pomeroy says:

I'm thinking this was taken along the coast somewhere and that you were dealing with afternoon low clouds and fog. Overall, the lighting in this is a bit odd, as though you were trying to make it look like an "early morning" shot (with the runner facing the rising sun) but the sun was above and off to her right.

My guess is that you used one strobe that was shining up at her from below, out of the frame on the left, and another one much closer in on her face (from a bit above). It's hard to tell from the image here on the web but it looks like the lights were a stop or two on the bright side. The shadows on her face, the back of arm and t-shirt are all darker than I'd expect given the lighting you see on the grass around her.

Compositionally, the shot is really interesting. I just mentioned something I call The Rule of Corresponding Angles (RoCA) the other day (here) that works a little like The Rule of Thirds except that it also, as the name implies, has something to say about what the dominant angle in the composition should be relative to the aspect ratio of the frame. The line formed by the side of the darkest hill (from the upper right) is in agreement with RoCA as are the lines formed by the small of her back and by her shoulder blade and neck. Positioning her so close to the left is also in agreement with the rule to a degree but she could also have been positioned further in, close to where the Rule of Thirds would suggest. Actually, positioning her as close to the edge as you did would have worked better if you were shooting with a "super wide-screen" aspect ratio (2.39:1) according to RoCA. Then again, "rules of thumb" like this are meant to be broken …

Dylan Neill says:

I think the image commands attention because of the tension created by having her right on the edge of frame looking out of shot. Your imagination takes over as to what is going on in the shot and what the story is. The shot has a morning feel because of the lighting and the clouds over the mountain in the BG so my imagination tells me that she's been running through the hills and has stopped for a break and to take in the sunrise.
Technical wise I'm not into too much analysis so I might not be winning any high fives. I'd say long lens like a 300, she is either lit with some extra strobe love or the contrast has been bumped up in post. I'm guessing that cutting and pasting multiple layers together for this shot would have been fairly painful due to the grass in the FG so maybe some dodge/burn/contrast to bring out the different layers of hills but thats all.

dalereubin says:

I think 3 images: foreground and model are shot at noon (no long shadow and blown out top of hat) with a bare flash on camera left. Direction for the model could've been to get her to imagine really appreciating where she is. I think the other couple of images are a blend of the mountains and steam to re-create early morning and give a chilled out and mellow mood. And her looking out the frame, I think is genius. I love breaking rules in photography, sometimes gives the best results.

wali says:

This looks like an iPhone photo run through the Helga filter in CameraBag and possibly even TiltShift. Judging by the light and mist, I would say it's an hour or two after sunrise and the sun is to the left of the camera (no artificial lighting). The shadow could be from a cloud or the part of the mountain running up to the left. The location is on a mountain at a pretty decent altitude with another mountain in the background. The mood of the photo is serene and relaxed, but also dreamlike given how abstract the photo looks to me.

I could see three images. The hill going to the left, mountain toward the right and the image with the subject. The mountain has a different cool color than the shadows in the second hill. The front was taken probably at the same location as the second image(going backwards). An off camera flash was probably used facing the subject. The lighting is too clean to be natural. They threw on a vignette after knocking out the background of the front image and threw the two other layers in there.

I could see three images. The hill going to the left, mountain toward the right and the image with the subject. The mountain has a different cool color than the shadows in the second hill. The front was taken probably at the same location as the second image(going backwards). An off camera flash was probably used facing the subject. The lighting is too clean to be natural. They threw on a vignette after knocking out the background of the front image and threw the two other layers in there.

im gonna guess at a holga lens on a digital camera? or something similar, failing that a tilt/shift lens. flash fired from camera left, with sunlight fill?

Doug Bell says:

The mood seems to be a runner enjoying the finish of a good run in the hills. The feeling is of satisfaction and enjoyment of the atmosphere and the outdoors. The model is looking forward to what is ahead but out of frame. Model direction would be along the lines of the same: looking into the 'distance', stretching to emote a post-run. The model was also likely told to keep her left leg back to appear as not just a side profile.

Technically it appears as though the shot is backlit by the sun to illuminate the clouds (or manufactured smoke) in the background. Also the majority of the hill behind the model is about the exposure I would expect from a landscape shot with the sky blown to that level of white. Due to the sharpness of the shadows on the model and the shadow on the front of the plant on the far left of frame, I would be inclined to think there was a large flash off camera left and slightly above the model without a softbox. The ground seems to undulate, which could hide some of the resultant shadows. I see some rim lighting on the model's legs that could be the result of sunlight or of an additional flash. It seems quite likely to have an additional flash to illuminate the ground if the flash on the model did not cover it already, as I see highlights on the grass in the bottom left part of the frame. There is likely an additional flash lighting up the hillside behind the model, as that could be easily accomplished with one flash.

As for the camera, it appears as though it is setup as a single medium wide lens with a fairly wide aperture, to give a depth of file if a few feet and to render the remainder of the frame out of focus, but not substantially so.

AmrToukhy says:

I think !!
Cross lighting …
With a tilt shift lens !

Blade says:

I really like the depth of field getting three different levels in there with the fog, makes the background intriguing yet still simple. The lighting/what the model is doing really makes the mood. I personally feel like she just got done with a morning run and is soaking in the sun and the view. There is kind of a story to the photo, almost makes me want to go running.

Ron says:

I don't hate nor love this photo, but the model's location does make me feel a little uneasy. Not quite sure what she's doing other than soaking in the light, and admiring the view we don't see – to me its not obvious. The back of her shirt looks liquified – very angular (to match the ridge composition?)
This could've easily been shot straight with no reflectors, diffusers, fancy lenses, nor flash – just low direct sun (probably morning because of the "fog") with some of the warm color removed. The hill on the left is shadowing itself, the mountain on the right receiving same light as what's hitting model – vignette added in post. No TS, just approx 80mm @ f5.6. Lots of space for copy – clothing ad? . . . not shoes. Chase, would say this photo is "undeniably good . . . "?

Ashley says:

The subject's position so close to the edge of the frame creates tension, but there's some balance in the large area on the right.

Similarly, the subject looking off frame creates mystery: what's she looking at?

The focus is interesting. Her calves are soft, shirt looks sharp, face is soft again. Some, but not all, of the foreground is in focus. With such a wandering focal plane, the eye wanders too, from subject to foreground to subject.

The colors, with the sunny, washed out background and the vivid jersey, as well as the hazy background, support this hazy, indistinct atmosphere. Combined with the out-of-frame glance, the image evokes a great impression of anticipation and the excitement of uncertainty.

The picture breaks a lot of rules but does so coherently, with all parts supporting the artistic vision.

Chase, there have been some comments from the Strobist side asking how was it done more that what does it say. I'm curious too. Are you going to let us in on the setup?

Andy M says:

My guess:
Composite of 3-4 shots

All natural light (maybe a reflector was used), no strobes whatsoever.
can't tell if it was around sunrise or sunset.

you're too far away from the model to give her instructions

Heather says:

She being so close to the edge of the image and the vast space behind her,says to me she is on the edge of something,contemplation of the future and the past.

- Mike says:

I'll start with the location which is Hawaii (looking at the behind the scenes gallery on FB).
For technical specs – the sun is backlighting the scene through the fog/mist which may or may not be artificial. The scene is under exposed by up to 2 stops. The subject is lit with 2 lights out of frame which are also lighting the foreground grass. The model is facing into one that is slightly behind her on the left of the frame and likely modified with a softbox. The second light is out of frame camera right almost 45 degrees behind the model creating subtle seperation. Both lights are far out to allow even exposure of the foreground.
This being an ad for an outdoor clothing company I imagine the model was given direction along the lines of suggesting imagining that the office is 1/2 the world away and that you're waking up, looking over prisine lands imagining the relaxation and adventure waiting you today.

Chris Pike says:

I say this is a 35mm format camera with a telephoto lens. The depth of field looks to be something like 8 feet or a tad less, which would be something like a focal length of 180-200 @ f16 shooting 30 feet away….
I think that this is a strobed shot with a source camera left on the far side of the mode. The strobe isn't too far from behind the axis of the model judging from the shadows below her chin and side of her face. It is low enough to fill in the face under the cap.
I see the background is darker than the foreground. I think you have another strobe way out on camera right maxed out.
Two 7b's with two pro 7's: one left at +1-2 stops over the sky on a softbox relatively close, and the other +1 over the ambient light falling on the ground way right (not much fall-off from left to right, so the light source is farther away).
Looks like some post processing? Vignetting? How about a high five for effort? Of course, a bit of post processing could throw us way off course.


granthauser says:

looks like a cloudy day, with the camera pointed at the sun behind the clouds. looks like everything is underexposed a little. Shot with a medium apeture like f11? looks like a high flash hitting the model from camera left. also a flash coming from behind the camera up high pointed at the ground behind where the model is standing. that would be my guess.

incredulous says:

I think it was a happy mistake. I think your original shot was set up where she is looking in this photo. You have one or two large soft boxes over there. During the course of shooting you wandered over to the side and saw a cool composition, snapped some frames.

Lens seems to be a mid telephoto – 200mm, maybe, and stopped down to an f/8, f/11. There seems to be some compression in the image but it wasn't shot wide open because there's some detail in the background.

Further thoughts on why this was a happy accident…I think if it was your main setup for a client like REI, they wouldn't be too psyched to have you posting those images unless you had negotiated that as part of your contract. I think this is a one-off. You had set up for one shot, saw the nice lines and symmetry of a different angle and took advantage.

Trent Davol

Light is what is so powerful and you use it well here. I would venture to guess that you used a sunny morning and then amped the light with an extra source in front of the subject(camera left). I like the fact that the low angle and the large lens used helps flaten out the image. you can see that there are three hills. the one the subject is standing on which is in focus and the two in the background. the sunlight helps make two of them merge together but yet gives that depth of focus. There is either some post production with vinyeting to help frame the shot. I do like the play on the sky and her shirt. I do wonder about the shadow of the subject but there could be other lights as a fill flash to eliminate that. Great pic.

Miklós Marczis says:

OK, here is my attempt:


My title of this composition: “SOMETHING IS MISSING”.
A morning coffee?
A good tent?
A bike?



Due to the composition the empty end very brightly lighted center draw my attention. It is clean and empty. My imagination fill it with a bicycle or tent. If the lighting is less bright I could imagine some dangerous e.g wild animal as a Grizzly.

The girl is stretching – her position is a typical at morning or after the running or biking session.
She is facing out of the picture but due to the composition her expression is not about the outside elements – I couldn’t see her eyes are open or not – maybe it is a short sunbathing or extra sleeping…

Her body has no shadow – which is normal at noon – but the shadow in the background shows – the light comes from lower angle. That is tricky!!!!


It can be a morning mist (artificial) with top of the hill with snow – nicely blurred. It could be the sun also – but the artificial light wants to change it. The sun is on the left.

Vignetting is a bit more than a 200mm lens produces – OK it is photoshop.
Large flashlights from the left are giving the main light.
Smoke or water machine in the background.
Large aperture for narrow DOF.

Congrats for the nice homework!
I like it very much!


Joel says:

I don't really want to get technical about the setup of the shot, but I am more breaking down what I think the picture means to me and what I think you were trying to portray in the picture. The feel that I get from the picture is almost something Zen-like. The subject is taking in a deep breath from atop the mountain, and also taking in the sunshine. Also the angles shown in the picture are very triangular and almost criss-crossing, which definitely is more interesting to look at. The blown out sky seems to tie in the fog/clouds in the center of the picture nicely.
I used to rock climb and when I would summit a climb, this is about what the same feeling that I would get. I would take in the glory of the climb and the sunshine/air and bask in it, very nice and warm feeling.

Bryan Barth says:

The more I look at it… and knowing you. It’s probably your iPhone 3Gs with the Toy Camera app or some such app. The new iPhone has the new focusing software or whatever. The vignette comes from the app. No direction for model. You guys had to walk up that hill, which was a bitch. And she is soaking up the sun because she is not a model, but an assistant from Seattle. Which has no sun, neither has Boston for the last 5 months so I can empathize.
Even if she is a model, it was a pain walking up that hill and I'm sticking to no direction.

Steve says:

Early morning, within an hour after sunrise to get the golden color. The runner looks to be facing east maybe northeast and it's the morning because of the fog.

Telephoto lens with a relatively large aperture, probably something in the 5.6-6.3 range, which is also causing the vignetting. I would also guess around 120-150mm (APS-C). Because of the vignetting, I would guess either a 55-200 or a 18-200 lens was used.

It also looks a tad overexposed to blow out the sky, the face and the grass with the goal of saving the shadows in the mountains and grass.

As far as composition, I like that the runner is place to the left of the first 1/3 line. It makes me want to see what's over there.

Andy Ptak says:

C'mon own up! I's not even your shot, is it? You got it from iStockphoto for $30, didn't you? Wait a minute, maybe that was someone else.

Nice shot, by the way.

Koen Delvaux says:

The foreground looks like it's a macro shot of a small area that is Photoshopped in the picture.

sherman says:

This is not an easy one. Or it's so easy we think it's difficult.

I would say that there are two light sources on hard light aimed at the model overpowering the sun. That light is modified so that it does wrap around the model to much. There is another light aimed at the grass in front of her. It gives the viewer the sensation that they are rising up the hill to her. The steam (smoke machine?) is lit by a front light source as well, I am guessing the sun. There is a large object in front of her and to her right that is creating the shadow behind her.

I can also accept that she was never there and she was comped in. That would explain the confusing focal planes.

The overall idea is that she has just completed an early morning trail run and she is at the top of a hill. The trail is directly behind her. She is basking in the morning light.

Car Blog says:

Thats a very good way of looking at it. The other way :)

Kane says:

Morning sun ~20-30 degrees off horizon.
Fog (low cloud?) not yet burned off. Possibly Autumn(Fall)/Spring.
Undulation of ground hiding woman's shadow.
Don't know anything about tilt-shift visuals.
Lots of space to show where's she has run in from.
Direction to enjoy the sunshine/view before running back down.

Tony Polito says:

What is compelling is the dramatic tension in the image and that it exhibits such warmth. First from a design point you have multiple diagnols that directly compete against one another. We naturally want to move from left to right in images, but here the strongest line is from top right to bottom left and leads us to the subject. However that line is broken by another diagnol from top left to bottom right (the way we naturally want to move). These two competing lines coupled with the subject facing left on the left edge of the frame creates even more tension (she is looking away from what is naturally comfortable for us). In the midst of all the design tension you have this warmth being created from the light. The light was prob multiple lights one just left of on axis with model and another used to light the surrrounding grass (flagged to not light model) and perhaps a third to light the far left grass to recreate direct sun. The tension plus the warmth creates a dramatic delimea for the viewer. Well done

Juan says:

As said, it's in Hawaii.
For me, the scene represents a girl taking a break during her hike to enjoy the bautiful sunlight of late afternoon (although it could have been shot early in the morning)

Assuming it's a scene shown "as shot", and not a composition of several pictures:

-Shallow DOP: shot wide open or blurred later in PS
The vignetting would add to the hypothesis of the picture having been shot wide open, but it rather looks like PS or Aperture (the corners tend to saturate more than when it's just lens fall-off)
-You either lit over 50ft in lenght (which would mean a lot of strobes!) or it was sunlit and assisted by a strobe in front of the model to get a more direct (and whiter) light on her
- The model could have been fill-lit with a reflector using the sunlight, but I'm less sure about this one.

I made a diagram!!! :)

I reckon she's comp'd on there. Not actaully at the location at all. She was shot in Studio with a large light source to the left reflects on the right then droped on the the background which was shot wide open.

Dennis Pike says:

had to skip ALL the responses so not to be influenced by what others said. It looks like you used the highlights and shadows on the ground as your base exposure. The part in the sun is kinda bright, maybe a stop over, but you wanted to keep detail in the shadow area behind the model. and also not make the mountain in the background go completely black. By doing so the sky gets a little blown out. As far as I can tell I'm only seeing one strobe fired directly in front of the model, probably into a large softbox, not above her either. As far as direction, I'm not sure how you work or how you interact with your models, but the feel I get and what I would have said for that look would have gone something like this. "Look like you jut got done hiking to the top of the hill/mountain, your tired, but feeling a sense of accomplishment, you;re stretching a bit and really just enjoying the view." That's about what I get out of it. Far off?

Composite?, increased vibrance, decreased saturation, 100% clarity, shadow and highlight adjustments, and possibly a tilt shift to give it that wicked depth of field.

Alexander says:

Quite a few possibilities here.

Directions to the model: Do some stretches while you (pretend you) are enjoying the view and sunlight. Shot with a long lens, I'm guessing around 200 mm. Overcast foggy day. As for lighting: I'm going for the artificial route. Three lights, one from high camera left facing straight to the model. One from camera right just out of the frame behind the model which makes the shadow disappear and causes the rim on her leg. Last light on the background to make the break in the clouds appearance more believable.

That being said it might as well be a break in the clouds where her shadow is obscured by the foreground.

Chris says:

its shot on your iphone, and the reason shes so close to the edge of the frame, is that theres a big white van or something there (that shes just got out of), reflecting back the light.

Martin says:

I've not read through every single answer posted…there are a lot, but here's my thought.

Despite the obvious directional light on the model from the left of the frame, there's no shadow behind her..

Two possibilities I can see,
1st option, the whole scene is in shadow (the rear mountain is tall but there's no direct sun on it, maybe an overcast day or dusk) so you have a light on the left on the hill behind the model. You have a bare light camera left hitting the model, you also have a bare light camera right and back, high up pointing down so it throws a pool of light on the ground and just catches the back of the models legs.

2nd option is similar to above except there IS sunlight creeping in from the left and it's low and obscured from the hill at the very back by the fact that maybe the hill to the left is HUGE!! it's hitting the model, but you still have the light camera right throwing a big bucket of fill on to the floor and her legs.

I think you've either been playing with the 200 f2 or you've added a little blur in post…maybe a bit of both :)

All in all a gorgeous shot, do we get to see more from this shoot :o)

Mr. Cross says:

It's a morning shot, helped by a strobe from more or less the same direction of the sun.

I believe the effect of "composite"-like picture comes from the fact that aperture was small, not from collage. (Or I want to believe :), 'cause that would be cool!)

The shot was taken quite low from the ground, also there is some "wide-angleness" to the picture. Maybe to make the model look taller?

What I like about this picture is that is seems to cage the subject. Now, I'm not suggesting that Chase doesn't know this, so I think its on purpose. Maybe because the model is standing near a cliff and you needed some place to put the strobe, so it couldn't be far away enough and not be in the picture.

It could also be (my favourite) that this way you don't really reveal anything. It's just beckoning me to go to that spot. To see what she saw, feel what she felt. Also it's very NEW and fresh. We're getting immune to "formula" shots. This picture seems odd enough to attract attention.

My two cents…

nice angle and nice view…the color mixing is totally awesome

Rob says:

My stab at deconstruction:

Time: 6am – who would schedule a professional photo shoot in the noon day sun?

Model: Looks like you cast an athletic model to stay consistent with the product/message

Wardrobe: Blue shirt = calming color. Fits the tone of the image.

Direction: Morning stretch before workout. Consistent with the product's purpose/message which I am assuming is an athletic attire/shoe manufacturer/retailer.

Composition: Capturing the fog implies morning and tranquility. Relaxing and motivating at the same time. Placing the model to the left of the frame lets the landscape tell it's story. The mountain to the right brings balance to the frame but doesn't compete with the lit model.

Lens: 50mm @ F4 from about 15 yards away

Lighting: Large (4×3?) softbox directly in front (perhaps a bit past) and close to the model.

Post: a little bump to the saturation and contrast along with a little vignetting

Thanks for the fun exercise (no pun intended).

anthony says:

First of all, there is still some detail in the background and the foreground is running a little hot. My guess is that you have a couple strobes metered at f/11. The glare and shadows on the models legs give me the impression that there is a strobe directly in front of her. I think if it were the sun, then the background would be totally blown out. However, I think that the natural light and the hotness of the highlights has to do with the aperture being extremely wide…Probably at 2.8 or even 1.2. That would definitely explain the depth and the highlights. I think that you brought back the detail in the background by adding a vignette in photoshop or aperture. This is because the corners of the image are way darker than the rest of the image and that helps recover some of the lost detail due to overexposure. On the other hand, the lighting might just be the sun shinning through the clouds as the mist begins to evaporate in the background but I still think there is at least one strobe of a soft-box, tethered to that awesome mac book pro case.

As for the location, this looks like an mazing place. This was obviously taken on the mountains of Hawaii early in the morning because the morning fog is still evident in the background. I also believe that you were telling the model to give you a sort of "I'm tired of walking and it feels so good to be outside wearing my comfortable clothing". I think the "relaxation" and "freshness" what you were trying to get out of the model.


Au Lim says:

here's my wild guess…

taken at around 11am because of the long shadow which is probably cast by a very big tree since the girl is not casting much of a shadow. since this seems to be such a big light source, its most likely just natural sunlight.

the smoke is either the beginnings of a forest fire which you've started yourself for photographic effect OR you're atop a high hill where it's foggy even when it's almost noon.

taken at 85mm f4.0. postprocessed for vignette at the edges :-D

Michael says:

the model is stretching… she probably just rolled out of her sleeping bag.. so this must be sunrise. The harsh light on her face and shins can't be from the warming sun… so probably a giant softbox or umbrellas with multiple SB900's. Reflectors to highlight the ground around her. The fog is probably steam from a giant kettle of boiling water the natives are preparing to stew the crew for breakfast… so probably a remote Hawaiian Island or New Zealand tribal habitat. I can't peg the bright white horizon… so probably a PS screen blending layer of an operating theater lamp taken from an episode of House, M.D. How'm I doing so far?

ClaWeD says:

the front patch of the grass is lit with artificial light, the background green is subdued and is natural light and the background is gray…the layers indicate complexity and layered thought process and the model pose indicates the "searching mode" emphasized in the background, too…CPL has been used to extract extra colors which makes it extra poignant.

i guess the photo looks for inner meaning in our life…a very well thought out location…and the camera was pointed in the direction of light to get the corners dark due to the polarity of the light and the CPL used, and the corner location of the person in the photo shows continuity of the search and the futility of the effort…did i over do my analysis ?

My 2 cents…like the photo…

Adam says:

I think the mood is mountain meadow runner girl basking in the view and accomplishment of workin' it to the top of this hill.
I think the girl was shot in studio, and asked to pretend that she is "Heidi" of the Cascades. Studio strobe left and a bit high. The grass she is on is just some out-take from another shoot. The mid background and background hill are from the same pic (and the fog). I think the blown out sun area in the top background which gradates to blue are done in post. Looking forward to the real details…

Marc says:

I believe the light on the left is in a softbox (two stacked), just outside the frame, right in front of the model. High noon sun.

Eric says:

Great Post.

I think I'll stew on this one a bit because a lot of my ideas seem plausible. I continue to develop it and have gone in several different directions.

Looking forward to the explanation.



iphone, gaussian blur!

Levi Welling says:

Love the diagonals. I think compositionally it would have been more effective if all of the diagonal lines led to the model. But I think you positioned the model where you did so you could place a strobe pretty close to them so you could contend with the bright sunlight. Im guessing late afternoon. Mood= Hard work followed by a sense of accomplishment. For the scene itself I think you exposed for the background mountain slope to bring out some detail and as a result the sky gets blown out. (If this is even a real location? haha Who knows could be a few layers done in photoshop in there for all I know.) Its a really cool image though and I love your work.

Paenguin says:

here's my stab:

1. Shot with a 35 or a 50 stopped down to about 4.5/5.6; evident in the not-so-shallow DOF
2. Time of day is 10/11-ish. Denoted by the not so long shadows and model facing a bit upward to catch the sun.
3. Metered at the darker skin side. Evident with the blown out highlights. And leaving details on the shadows.
4. Location is a high hill since the clouds are almost touching in the background. Unless of course, it was a foggy day and the fog is just about to rise up (being that the time is nearing noon).
5. Asked the model to face towards the sun and look out the horizon. Pause (as if just finishing the jog up the hill), appreciate the beauty of the scenery, breathe in the morning mountain air, and contemplate on the jog down.
6. The positioning (composition) of the model leaves a lot of mystery. What in the world is she looking at to deserve such an expression. At the same time, showing the viewer where she came from (BG shows a bit of a climb up).
7. At post, vibrancy is bumped up and saturation toned down a bit. Clipped highlights to show detail on face but not so much to as to lose the majestic cloudy feel.

i think this is it. i could be missing out a few. not so good with words.. im better at, ooohh, aahhh.

Cheers Chase!

Sun behind model and left a bit. I dont think its as early or late as people think. Also, light on model looks hard, so lightsource was fairly far away, and possibly snooted, camera left.
I have a feeling this photo is cropped quite a bit. I bet you could even see your light source in the original image.
Direction: "Look towards the light, I am trying to set my exosure."
I think there is a shadow in the grass, mostly hidden by the grass.
Thats how it went down.

JC says:

Mindset is a morning trail runner stops to enjoy the morning sunrise.
1. D3 + 24-70…around mid zoom @ f3.5-4 and 1/100 (more open and you'd get more bokeh in the foreground and a faster shutter would start to darken the background due to flash)
2. The model is hit with hard light from a big light source (profoto 7b maybe) and very soft light from the rear.
3. Lack of shadow is due to composite. Composite because the strobes were also used to light the ground as the scene was in complete shade. There isn't light reflecting on the fog nor the mountain in the rear.
Well I hope something was close to correct. Can't wait to see how it was really shot.

latoga says:

When you day deconstruct the photo, I’m thinking about how the scene was lighted. Maybe that’s just because I have Joe McNally’s lighting course coming up on Friday…but this is something I have been doing naturally for a while.

Initial thoughts: It appears that it was a partially cloudy/foggy day, hence the strong pool of light in foreground with shadow area in background. Main light source (sun) was camera left. Image was overexposed a few notches.

After additional analysis: There was additional lighting source camera left just out of frame, the strong highlights on the front of the model (especially legs, arms, face) indicate this. I also think the sun was either overhead with a bounce just off screen camera left or the sun was camera right due to the lack of any shadow cast by the model and the lack of any deep shadow on the model’s back.

The model was shot in the studio with the main hard flash at 10 / 11 O'clock lit from above and angled at 45 degrees (shadow under chin), the camera postion was low with a 85mm.

The front two triangles of landscape were shot at 60-100mins after sunrise using the same camera perpsective 85mm lens to link up the composite perspectives. The aperture for the main landscape is around 5.6/8 and the focal point is set so the closet grass is out of focus.

For my taste the color balance of the model is slightly too blue compared to the landscapes morning light, probably due to over doing the curves and saturation in PS.

The rear mountain triangle and mist were also composited in alongside the blue burned upper corners in PS.

The placement of the model has more to do with direction from the ad agency as type would be placed to the right of her.

Direction to the model would be something like "you've just paused to stretch on your morning run and you are taking a refreshing deep breathe of that mountain morning air and feel like you are full of life and energy".

Hi from central sunny Mexico.

Chris Odom says:

I'll start from the left and work right. the model is portraying a sense of accomplishment, thus illuminated. in terms of color, her dark blue shirt contrast against the sky and opposite the green directly below here. see the light, dark, dark, light pattern (top to bottom, left side of frame) going on here. a visual palendrome if you will.

next, another repeating pattern here is the shape and luminance going on bottom to top; light, dark, dark, light. another palendrome working from top to bottom. two palendromes in one err… thousand work sentence? kudos. impressive. well played sir.

next. you visualized this repeating pattern before you saw the space in physical existence. then you sought out the terrain. or maybe it was in your subconscience. who knows… reguardless, you sought the space and placed your model.

then you broke out your trusty profoto 7Bs, or 8s you lucky duck you, warmed it up, matched it to the sky and off ya went.

oh and in post you vingetted the corners. attempt at the palendrome/repeating pattern thing. maybe that counts as 3???

thus, i feel that this is what helps transcend commerical photographry into the spot where it approachs art. you hit your viewer over the head with the obvious, here, the model, showing off the new adidas trail running shoe or maybe REI's new tech fabric, not sure but thats established. but then, you challenge them to linger longer. entice them to spend some more time and actually engage their brain and play inside their own sandbox. explore a little. live like it's 1979…

and therein lies the power of imagery and how brand use it to establish life long relationships with their target market. the viewer is spending more time analyzing the content, thus creating powerful associations with the brand.

ahh the power of suggestion…
and to the companies that continue to hire original and creative photographers to produce this work. thank you. spend more on original content! it works.

John Leonard Photography says:

I haven’t played in a while so why not…
1) Mood, facing into the light and away from the dark. Triumphant, victorious, achievement, very good use of light and shadow to convey accomplishment.
2) Lighting, I’d say the subject is light with a large gridded octo or softbox. The light wraps but has a bit of a directional edge to it. The back side of the subject is a good 2 ½ stops lower, fired from just out o frame straight reflector.
3) On location? Hard to say…you’re just good. Could be a composite image. The foreground and subject are in studio. I’d tend to lean this way since the far left side of the hill is about a stop lower on the sunny side. So you would have had to add light to the foreground if on location. But maybe I’m wrong…but I’m going composite.
4) Product, the blue shirt pops…why? The blue shirt is significant is it the only product being shown here? Or does it convey a subtle calming feeling over the whole image? Both, that and the grass is blocking the shoes which could just piss off a shoe company I’d think =)
Ok that’s my $.02 worth

John Jacobsen says:

The way the light is falling you would expect that mountain in the background/right to be lit up as well no? Since it's not, I gotta go with overcast and a lot of man made "sun". I think three banks of lights. One on the model, one lighting the foreground w/just enough spill to further illuminate the model, and one lighting the little hill in the back left.

The tilt shift idea is intrigueing, but I'm going to go with a 105 prime at f/5.6 or f/8

Last – the smoke/fog. It's mother nature. There's a lake back there I'm guessing so this was early morning fog from the lake.

Rich says:

Looks like it's tilt-shifted.
Based on the shadows in the backgroud, the light is coming from behind the hill and to the left… which is blowing out the back… helped to even it out in post probably.
You can catch the sunlight hitting the back of her leg a bit I think.

There's what looks like a bare head to camera left about a foot or two above her head and placed maybe 4-5 feet in front of her aimed down casting a shadow under her chin, but not high enough to cast one under her chest.
You were probably telling her to lift her chin enough that the hat wouldn't cast a shadow but that you'd catch one on her neck.

She's split lit to create contrast that matches the rest of the scene (bright front, dark back… bright foreground, dark mid ground)

Compositionally, the brightest part is negative space so the angled landscapes help direct attention to the subject. By being lit from the left and looking in that direction at the edge, it seems to hold your attention at the subject after your eyes first scanned the rest of the image to obtain "place".

An obvious vignette was added to help contain attention.

The focus seems missed, but maybe that's just the web resize. The DOF is obviously thin, probably a telephoto from a ways back to help compress the background and simplify it, maybe shot somewhere around 2.8 to 3.5 to keep the DOF narrow. There's something weird with the focus though which is making me think T/S.

HI there Chase, you probably think I been on something funny here to think of thi but,Its a lovely image first and foremost anyhow getting down to it complete stab in dark as so many ways to light and expose pics to get similar looks as you know.

I reckon it's all shot on location cause thats how you roll.

why make it more complicated than needed

the depth of field is shallow but also interesting so I think you used a 85 – 90 mm tilt and shift lens ( I don't know nikon's longest tilt and shift, my apologies) to give it that surreal look.

I think the sun is low dipping behind the hill in the background , thats why the mist has shown up and why the grass in background is still a shade or two darker than the foreground grass.

I m guessing that grass and the model is all light due to some off camera lighting to the left of camera and slightly only just though past the model thats why get the nice shadow fall of on legs and chin and the nice higlight in the shins.. couple lights would do her and the grass im sure.

though im also sure this is way to convoluted for something u will just say back lit tilt and shift light from soft bow or whatever off to left….as gordon Ramsey would say….Done!!

heheh great lil link though , i think my head is bleedign hehehehe…

Lighting: Softbox camera left, a couple of metres away from the model and slightly behind. Profoto 7b (or broncolor mobi?)

Exposure: 1/250, f/8-11(is it an 85 tilt shift or a 70-200?)

Location: somewhere beautiful with grassy mountains (maybe NZ?)

Direction: "bathe in that gorgeous profoto 7b (or broncolor mobi?) sunlight, baby, yeah yeah, work it… work it" (I'm sure it would have been said like that with a seedy mustache as well). Stretch/relax like you've just ran up here, blah blah.

Mood: Sunny summer afternoon, sporty… And a beer behind the camera :)

Denis - 5190 #3 says:

Besides the depth of field giving importance on the subject, the fact that she's looking at something we don't see is intriguing. That's why this photo tells a story.

joshuamichael says:

Just some quick thoughts.
The first thing that hits me, are the diagonal lines, and the way they led you through the image. My eye starts in the bright middle and is quickly moved to the left and forms straight to the subject. From here it is led up and around the model and then across image to the right, back into to intersecting mountains and out the image again. There is a hard side 45 degree light, lighting the front of the model giving depth and focus to the model. The layers of light from front to back give great depth and also led the eye through the image. Technical details: Wide lens maybe 35mm shoot @ f5.6. Thanks.

Just deconstructed Chase Jarvis's photo.. isn't that what he meant? :)

James says:


I know nothing about lighting a shot, but here's my observation.

Its much like your jumping man on your main site, you know the one with the guy on the dune.

1. She has a great emotion on her face. I'd say you told her to feel like its the best sunrise she has ever seen. While this could be a sunset, it feels like a sunrise, because she is wearing exercise gear.
2. There's a major amount of light coming from the left and while there's much contrast on the model, there's no shadow on teh ground. There's also a small amount of reflective light on her leg from the right, but not on her shirt.
3. Smoke in the back ground which flows into a majorly white area of the sky, actually the sky is white.
4. The deep shadow on the back of the hill divides the light grass and smoke and light sky.
5. There's a slight vignette.
6. The woman is in focus, not much else is.

I'm sure if you asked 5 different photographers, they would all do it a different way.
I'm guessing you actually just dumped the woman into the shot because there's no shadow.

I think the best thing about the photo is creating the anticipation of feeling the sun, but not actually seeing it.

Thanks for the post.

Dan Cooper says:

Nice DoF on the main landscape portion of the image, but not to over done, possibly a 24-70mm wide open at 2.8. a bit over exposed meaning manual all the way.
Vignetting must have been done post process, same with the color treatment to the grass.
Shot either early morning or late evening, light source seems to be level with the model.
Most interestingly the model has harsh well defined shadows on her back yet very little, if any, shadow behind her; composite image perhaps? The model looks like she's resting, reflecting on life during a late mountain run.
Great shot either way…

T. C. Knight says:

Here's how you did it:

You told your staff to lift a photo off of McNally's site…and you inserted it here.

NOT that you couldn't create it in about five minutes. But why bother when you can just lift it?

It certainly saves you from having to carry the 442 lights that Joe used, up the mountain in New Zealand. Although you had a helicopter and surely could have. But you had more important things to do like shoot a cool ad campaign.

So, I vote that you lifted it.

Oh yea, your direction to the model was "don't tell anybody I lifted the photo of you".


(If you are guessing that I haven't a clue how the photo was made…you would be correct.)

groovyrogue says:

Assuming this had not been photoshoped, it looks like it may have been taken really early in the morning with the sunrise coming up. The morning timing would also count for the shadow behind the hill, horizontal light direction and the fog in the background. Love that she is looking off the side creating a mental focal point that is left to the imagination… Seems like her shadow is either in the tall grass or there may have been lighting from above as well.

Kelly Hofer says:

Beautiful lighting chase and crew!
My contention is that the model was lit using a strobe set to almost full power with a slight orange gel, and that was hard light from fairly far away.
This is because there is fog in the background so no hard sunlight could penetrate, as it would diffuse itself. The far hill is not lit while the near hill is, and that's my reason for saying you used a bare strobe to illuminate the near hill.

And then you seem to have softbox right in front of her, and angled a bit from top down.

The lens seems to be around 70-150 mm, set at a aperture around F5-8, because the background is not too out of focus, but not F16-style in focus. They are fairly in focus because you seem to be standing far away and therefore the distance ration between them and you becomes smaller.

You posed the model by asking her to stand and take in the sun, and do a little stretching. This also helps emphasize her athletic figure.

The photo conveys a refreshing feeling, like the model is leaving the dark and entering the light. The green vegetation makes for a good natural feeling.

But what is most striking about the image is the simplicity of lines and mood. The mood is very refreshing and serene, and the simple composition helps convey that very well.
The far off hill balances the model, and therefore there is not much tension in the image.

the location is on a low hill, with a larger one in the background. I say low hill, because there is some not too hardy vegetation on it, that would die on mountains. But it is still high enough for it to be in the clouds
(unless of course you were using a fog machine, this would render all of my assumptions useless)

Rob Mizell says:

Technical deconstruction…

Long lens due to the compression of the back hills to the front. Also I'm going out on a limb of f/8 to f/16 because of the match of flash to ambient. This might have been later in the day allowing for a more shallow depth of field.

The flash is rather close, though it is using a softbox.

As for what the model was told, I would assume something along the lines of "Alright, you just finished hiking/running up here and you're relaxing and taking in the scenery."

taylom29 says:

No lighting, just the sun. Purposefully over-exposed (by quite a lot) and then recovered in aperture by pulling up the blacks, adding contrast, vibrancy and a gamma vignette.


Sa1ntc says:

Wide aperture, perhaps 2.8.

The grass in the foreground seems to be in focus. I guess the foreground is elevated but brought to level under the girl's feet.

The shadowy background was exposed for but a break in the shadows almost overexposed the girl…

One simple, natural exposure looking into the sun at f11 but with a big reflector camera left which provides the subject light. Beautiful, natural and perfect for a double truck magazine spread.

eric says:

Cool picture. My best guess is that it's a 50mm at 1.4 because of the vignette at the lack of sharpness at the corners (although i think it plays really well for this picture.)

I thought maybe it was available light but it's hard to figure out where its coming from. So I'm going to guess there's a big softbox to the left and the sun is coming from the back left.

I'm a little confused because I don't see a shadow on her, so I guess she could have been flown in from another shot, but the vignette looks too good with the picture, so my guess is that the light is straight on, not at an angle.

As far as how you told her to pose, well I hope someone guesses that so I could learn. I haven't got a clue. Great pic… this is fun

Ryan says:

first of all, I notice your depth of field, it's very shallow – you're shooting close to wide open, probably between f/2.8 and f/4. From this, and the compression of the foreground to background I know you were shooting with a long lens. My guess is somewhere in the 100mm range, 135 maybe?

I also see some strobist action going on from camera left, behind the model. It's a hard light source a little ways away, probably about 45 degrees to her right. It's mimicking a low sun.

As far as mood is concerned, I think you were looking for a sort of active lifestyle shot. To me this photo tells me a story of a woman who hiked up this mountain to watch the sunset. This is her moment of triumph and solitude. The "backwards" composition (shes looking out of the frame rather than into it) is important in telling this story when you think about it this way because it shows you the path she had to take to get to this moment. And even though the moment is the subject of the picture, the journey to get there is probably what you're ultimately trying to convey.

Sorry if thats a little more rambling than you intended to hear, it was more rambling than I was intending to give.

Scott says:

I think this has the earmarks of a grab shot. It's obviously early morning, and I think I recognize coastal California fog between the hills. This may be your assistant, watching some poor lumper running up from the van with tons of light modifiers for the shoot, you look, swing the camera and shoot before the moment passes.
Or, you did the whole thing in post.

Dim says:

Maybe a little bit to much of fill light.
use of a tilt-shift lens.
It depends why u want to use this image but the girl is to much on the left side.
Sorry for my poor english.
Dim from EU

Plumchutney says:

natural light is from back (bright sky) and I guess through clouds.
Model and ground lit by bare strobes (2 or 3) as hard shadows. CTO gelled as warmish light.

Is that real mist or smoke machine?

Great shot though – and I like the rule breaking model looking out of the frame.

isaac says:

two large softboxes, one left of camera, other slightly right of camera. Sort of like the video you did about the golf shoot in California.

image vignette + vibrancy bumped up…

either that, or its a simple reflector to show us that you don't need a lot of expensive & heavy gear to make a good photo


Anastas says:

Great example for tilt-shift portrait :)

Will Foster says:

1 sunbouce/ lastlite panel type reflector.

Jason Keeley says:

You dropped the camera and it snapped this pic. Nice work!

Raji Barbir says:

Here's what I'm struggling with the most… No shadow behind the model!!

It looks to me like you were shooting against the sun, though I have no clue where the lens flare went. But I think that's her shadow beneath her isn't it? The one being cast towards camera left?

Big off-camera light directly in front of her and coming slightly from above (nice jaw-defining shadow), you've overpowered the sun there, but then to keep there from being 2 shadows (the sun's and the flash's), I'm guessing you had to use some fill on the grass, possibly coming from camera left and behind you?

I don't know…

Lisa says:

First of all, it is good to break the "rules" people and I like that she is at the edge of the frame.

I believe the sun is overhead because she does not have a shadow and the sun is lighting up the mountain clouds. This is also why the sky is "burnt out" – it is the cloud. You have a flash on a pack placed in front of her and just slightly forward or to her left causing her left arm to create a shadow on her face and caused her left leg to create a shadow on her right leg. I think the aperture was set around f5.6 the grass in the foreground is in focus, as is the model but then the focus falls off beyond the ridge in the grass. I think the focal length was somewhere around 200.

I think your direction was to have the model pretend to be stretching into the morning sun off the frame, looking into the flash.

Then a vignette was added to get the dark corners to frame the picture.

Now I have to go recreate this in the backyard to see if I am right ;)

Ogalthorpe says:

I think it's been said already in a few different posts. But here's my take:

- model shot in studio. She's obviously lit with a softbox at a medium distance. The shadows are not super hard (so not the sun or bare source) and they're not super soft (so no 10' octa)

- the background is a location grab. probably something pretty grabbed with either the Iphone or or a DSLR that caught your eye.

- fake DOF added in post

- vignette added in post

- model stitched into shot in post

and voilia!

Duane says:

The hard part is skipping previous posts so as not to get ideas. I am a hobby landscape shooter, so guessing or knowing the technicals as far as lighting is difficult for me.

I'm thinking this is three flash/strobes;
1 )camera right lighting the fg and feathering the model.
2) Beauty light or fill on the model to give a nice strong but soft effect. Aimed from the models right to simulated a subtle back light
3) Flash to light the bg. Also aimed towards camera on about a 45 degree angle. This is so that back hill matches the front hill. Without this light the picture would look 'lit' and not sell!

Atmospheric smoke to lessen how harsh and distracting the dark green hill would look behind the model.

Camera is probably in around a f 8-12 depending on distance to subject. Provides a nice semi-out-of focus background which helps keep your eyes on the model. Also, maybe on a 200mm lens.

Direction to the model would be difficult to guess. Could have been a candid shot between set-ups or a very specific direction to accomplish the needs of an advertiser. Depends on what the client was looking for, right?

Natural light early morning late afternoon. Just having a good time and trying to capture some "real moments"

I'm taking back the afternoon commnet. On closer inspection the flowers looked closed, so mornng it is.

I didn't read all of the bazillion comments left before mine, so this may have come up. Obviously she is lit, if not by the sun only, then by artificial means that are nicely matched to ambient. But based on the flowers at her feet, she really is facing the sun and is not ONLY lit artificially. Also the flowers are open, making me think more late afternoon than early morning. I don't mind the facing out of frame bit, it makes me edgy and it contrasts nicely with the calm, serene image that it looks like it's TRYING to be.

Don says:

Here's my two cents …I see an outdoor location shot, hill top, the model was told that she's on a morning hike, just reached the top of hill and is enjoying the morning sun. Technically I think you used a tilt-shift lens to focus on the model and probably lit her with a soft boxed strobe to replicate the morning sun.

Will says:

she is backlit with the sun behind. you have used strobes on the left to illuminate the model. you have used a shallow depth of field with a tilt shift lens with the plane of focus running across the bottom left corner of the photo. you have added a vignette in post production and boosted the colours slightly. no idea what you said to the model!

Jason says:

I'd say an 85mm stopped down a bit, say f5.6 or f8 using the sun as a backlight, morning or early afternoon, with either a reflector behind you or a small flash hitting the ground (and spilling onto her legs).

the composition suggests "being on top of it all while looking forward to the next …" Keeping that a mystery and creating tension by having her at the edge of fram looking off.

Posted to allow the highlights in the sky go (including her face) which might be a little too much for my tastes. And add a vignette as that's what all the kids are doing these days.

I think her position to the camera was more to take advantage of the light and less to show up her figure. Directed to look as if she just ran up that mountain and is looking at her accomplishment/rewards. … OR … stolen moment while kneeling down and changing lenses

Nice use of a dramatic location, communicates clearly, center lighting (complimented by vignette) keeps us in the image and not follow her gaze off. You have sold "self-accomplishment" as it relates to the outdoor crowd.

omuiri says:

ummm.too much dissection… it shot totally natural with some light source (the sun) camera high left?

Tuffer says:

Everyone keeps saying huge DoF, but my first thought was tilt-shift (maybe my eyes are just blurry today).
She's lit from the left with a highlight head to toe but no shadow. Maybe a rectangle softbox set on ground in front of her and pointed up?
certainly feels like a running apparel ad. looking to the future with the feeling of hard work about to be behind her.
(If I win a high five, you're coming to belgium to give it to me!)

Guillaume Poulin says:

Shot near Kona, Hawaii (Thanks Facebook!)

Looks to me like it has been shot with a Tilt/Shift lens since the grass in front of the model is on focus at a 45 degree angle. Maybe a 45 mm or 85 mm TS.

Probably shot under high Sun elevation since no shadow is visible near the model. Some clouds and fog Subject is lit from camera left with flash or by large reflector, high enough to create shadow on the chin.

Model might be streching before having to run for some action pics. So this could be a shot to test lighting.

Wraped by a nice photoshop touch by Scott I guess.

This really is the king of image I'd like to create. wow!

This is what I've learnt about this image:
Location: Up in the mountain where clouds are at same level.
Time of Day: around 4AM or 8PM
Lens: 70-200mm at f5 and 120mm
Model Instructions: Put hands on head in a relaxed way looking at the sun in a meditational mood.
Lights: Sun and a prophoto light with a medium soft box to cover her whole body from the front more like 45 degrees of her front to reinforce the key light.
Post Processing: High contrast levels, a bit of burn in the corners and edges a buit of saturation added (love it)

Mike says:

Technical: Single strobe in front of the model, possibly used a tilt-shift lens for selective Focus area. Strobe might explain why the second layer of green hill is soo much darker. The third mountain/hill has even less light I believe because the natural sunlight is opposite of the camera. So it' actually in the shadow. Considering the clouds I'd say it was pretty high up in elevation.

Artistic: Sort of a "clean you could almost smell the grass and feel the light mist on your face" Capture is a moment of accomplishment in the subject and the reward is the experience of making it to that location.

nice shot BTW!

jeffportaro says:

Im gonna have to say, the background dark area is from a passing cloud. The foreground grass is lit by a combination of the sun and some spill off the large octobank or softbox to the left of the model. The light on the back side of the models calves is from either a reflector outside right of the frame or some small strobe. I'm guessing f3.5

Anonymous says:

tilt shift!

Ian Sheh says:

great image!

location shoot. the sun is just past the left hill. key light camera left in front of the model, diffused fill light from camera angle. camera angle is low to using a longer lens. possibly dragging the shutter to grab a bit more ambient light. direction, "you're enjoy the sun after a good run."

that's my guess at least.

brian faini says:

d3x 70-200 @ 200

sunlight peaking through a cloudy/foggy morning.

Hi Chase,
I like the triangles and the depth of field that gives a great 3D effect to this photo! The figure on the left extremity of the frame close the space for the end of the reading of the image.

Best wishes,

Sorry for my bad english!

Steven says:

- The depth seems compressed, so I'd say you used a long lens. My guess: 300mm.
- Strong direct light coming from the left side. I'd guess two flashes at full power on high stands. On from the left and the other slightly more to the back. Could be the sun, but the contrast seems a bit too strong for that and it's difficult to see the model's shadow.
- Wide aperture to capture lots of light from the flashes. If it's really a long lens then the depth of field is still not too narrow, so it's not extremely wide open. My guess: 5.6.
- Short exposure time to dim the natural light.
- Smoke machine in the back on the right side.
- Slight vignette in software.

Nick† says:

A composite of 2-3 different images with multiple exposures to bring the fog out that's on the hill side, a fill light maybe with a beauty dish on it running directly at the model. And some photo shop work to bring out colors and shadows.
As for the mood of the image I get a feel of very relieved, happy at the same time courage and strength of an everyday athlete.

First off, I like this shot a lot!

To me, this shot looks like the model is exhausted and looking back over the hill she just "cross countried" up. The setting is in/around Kona, Hawaii in the beautiful countryside possibly in the morning I'm guessing due to the back lighting, shadows and fog. You had a flash set up in front of the model on high power to give a dramatic feel. The vignette helps keep the viewer in the photo even though the model is looking off the frame which makes me wonder about the beautiful scene she is looking at and the trail she conquered. She has a look of accomplishment on her face mixed with a calming relaxed "glad-to-be-done-looking-forward-to-her-next-challenge" look.

Or it could be completely unscripted and she is taking a break (stretching) from the long afternoon of shooting.

Beautiful work whichever way you look at it!

austinfausto says:

Lets see..
Light source is:
- to the left but behind the model
- its not diffused, so hard light
- fairly large reflector behind it
- no right side shadow casted by model confuses the guess on the height
- maybe its gobo'd to block from lighting the botom half a bit

Post processing:
- saturation increased
- vignette on the sides
- maybe a composite of atleast 3 diff photos
- composites could explain lack of shadows

K theres a lot to describe haha that was fun, thanks for sharing

Bip Mistry says:

Possibly… there r 3 images, the grey triangle on the right, the smokiness, and the rest of the image. Maybe you used a tilt lens (or large format) as there is a hint of scale change, or you used post production to add blur to the image.

My first impression is:
- Must be shot with a longer prime, somewhere in the 135mm, fixed 2.8… but set around f/8 or smaller.

- Position of sun: She has no shadow, but I see a shadow on the hill behind her. This makes me think you used a rather large reflector.

- What you might be saying to the model?: "Dont worry, I bring models up here to the mountain all the time… I'm totally legit".

I'm pretty sure this shot is a composition of three, maybe four layers: foreground with talent, (sharp), slope coming from the left and the background slope from the right. The fog in front of the last layer could be extra, though. Sky? hard to tell, it's way blown out (sun? would also match the shading on the grass, I'd guess). Talent is lit by a fairly hard light, I'd say at about eye level or slightly above…

Location? could be anywhere. Or a combination of wildly different places.

Composition wise, it's a clear violation of giving people 'space' within the photograph. That creates quite a lot of tension for the viewer, and raises thoughts like 'why does she want to leave this place?' and 'it's clear that she is leaving, but where is she going?'.

Already looking forward to reading all the other comments!

red says:

She just set the hill on fire, hence the smoke. The police caught her, but she's pretending to be innocent, hence the hands behind the head and the defiant facial expression.

Can't figure out the light source on the left. Possibly police car?

garyallard says:

I'll give it a shot and say very early morning light (too white to be sunset) It looks "motivated" with a Speedlight in front of the model from slightly below the sun's plain. Probably a 70-200 mm racked out and around f/5.6? I think this is actually an in-between/test shot since the model is in a slightly awkward position. I think you were not giving any direction to her at all.

Why it's good: I like the colliding lines of the landscape. Shapes and gesture interplay and the model's slight awkwardness in position (both body and placement) make it really interesting. I like the slight sense of discomfort.If she were posed well and framed away from the edge it might be too "good."

Why would the light at sunrise be any different from the light at sunset?

Moe Maamoun says:

Hi Chase,
I'd imagine you were in the shade on top of a mountain or a hill early in the morning, just after sunrise.

I'd imagine the mood you had in mind for the model is a morning run or something and stop for a minute to enjoy the sun.

I's imagine a bit of high ISO may be 400 high shutter low aperture!

This is what I'd imagine how you've done it.

joy hamel says:

humm.. i'd dare say this is 3 different shots put together in photoshop to create the desired look. Model, shot in studio, based on lighting and no shadow behind her, green hillside, a second shot… then a third shot of the misty mountain in the background.

-but that is just a guess…

I think this image is shot at noon. The front grass it lit by the sun. While the back is darkened by a mountain that is outside the shot.

The girl on the left is lit extra by a bare flash to create the hard light. It has a little bit of distance to make the source even smaller.

There is a little vignette that creates the blue corners.

She is place on the side of the frame to make you curious about the view. It suggest to me that she look out over a valley or something.

Its meant as lifestyle photo and therefore post-processed with some extra vivid colors.

Love the picture and the feel of it.


The huge depth of field was done by stitching together a lot of photos shot with a wide aperture…for example, using a 50mm f1.8 lens to shoot over 30 images or more and directing the model to not move through out the time period you took the shot…the technique is also seen in most of Ryan Brenizer's photos…Light came from the far left…I think its sunlight because of the way the floor around her is also lit

Diala Chinedu

James says:

I'm going to guess it was a full shade area, sun is somewhere directly behind her, possibly behind that side mountain (guessing this from the blown out sky) Flash from camera left to light her as well as surrounding grass. small vignette to frame photo. Your direction: "act like you're taking a good morning stretch after running these mountains."

I'm sure i'm not even close :)

Brian says:

Love this photo. What I love:
1. the depth and layers of the ground back to back to back
2. the model looking off the edge of the image. Some will say this is breaking a rule but if it is, who cares? I'm now more intrigued and what she is looking at.
3. the light coming from what she is looking at. What IS she looking at?
4. the stretch — makes me wonder what she's doing there and if the stretch has something to do with it. Makes me wonder if she's running, hiking, etc.
5. the steam. Love that. What is creating the steam. It's mysterious … and intriguing.

looks like a normal – med long lens, pretty wide open. focused on her. Reasonably late in the afternoon. Not sure, but she may be lit by additional light or fill. IMO, she's looking the wrong way.

pixitha says:

Not so much of a deconstruction just a note.

I love the huge depth of this image, with those 4 different planes, and the fact that there is no shadow from the model, yet the sun appears to be coming from the left.

Great shot!

Triangles, for one thing. Even the "arch" of her back is a triangle, and the set of her neck/arms, all set against the triangles of the hills, horizon lines. Her darker blue t-shirt is also a deepening of the triangle corners of lighter, same hue, blue.

I'll stop there to let someone else play. Cool idea.

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