Deconstruct This Photo 2.0 – REVEALED

It was good fun poking through all the great comments as hundreds of y’all deconstructed the advertising image I posted on Tuesday. Tons of great insights, lots of great ideas I didn’t use (but might next time) and, while it was a tough choice, I think J. Harrington was the first person who most accurately pulled apart the technical aspects of this image. We’ll send him a signed book or something fun. In the meantime, here’s the de-brief. Numbers on the image sorta correspond to the numbers below:

[Update: I also posted a jpg of the RAW image with no post production after the jump]

1. Overhead lighting. Indeed the image was strobed. In this case we fired a Broncolor Scoro A4s pack with 2 heads and PAR reflectors through a 12’x12′ one stop silk, parallel to the floor and cranked overhead at about 10′ using some beefy stands.

Why? This creates a huge light source and the falloff in the corners of the gym (and in this case, our shot here) which simulates the sorta crappy light that gymnasiums from this era almost all have…sorta bright enough in the center, but mediocre to crappy everywhere else. We overemphasized this a bit as well to add to the drama of the image. This gym was pretty dark, so creating this really big source of light was quite important.

2. Fill light. Most of you were correct in nailing that there was a second light source above the model and camera left. In this case, we fired the Broncolor Mobil A2r pack using one head equipped with a beauty dish.

Why? This helped bring out some definition in the model’s musculature and cheekbones–toughed him up a bit–and …[more details along with a larger version of the image after the jump.

…at the same time bounced a little light off the floor back up onto his underside, giving us a more light-balanced image. This was especially helpful given that he’s wearing all black and was sorta ‘muddy’ before we did this.

3. Lights on the wall. Would have been a miracle if you guessed this part…Most of you made a smart guess that we fired some small flashes there using Pocket Wizards. In reality, those lights were a part of the gym and were hard mounted to the under-ceiling (note the conduit on the wall). We simply removed the actual fixtures in post production, but left the light. For good reason, nobody got this…

Why? I like how the lights help define the background space. Plus it was pretty dark under that overhang, would have been muddy without a little lighting help.

4. The Talent. This is a real yogi, doing a real pose, in the actual location. It is not a composite. He held this position numerous times for 10-30 seconds per ‘take’. FWIW, it took us a bit of work to find a posture that had the balance, power and grace that this posture did. There was another yogi on set who helped us work through a number of possibilities. We finally agreed to this one based on how aesthetic and strong it was, plus it allowed us to really frame him up nicely on that back wall and above the chairs.

Why? In my opinion, it’s almost always better to create the image ‘in camera’ if possible. In most cases, if the activity in the scene is humanly possible, a little extra work and perhaps even costs on set on the front end of creating the photo can save dozens of hours–and likely some money–in post production afterward. Exception are numerous, but I tend to default to this mentality when appropriate. In this shot, he would pull himself into the posture and I would fire off 10-20 shots while coaching his facial expression, then I’d give him a break. We did this about 10 times, tweaking different aspects of the shot to get the one we finally wanted. This Yogi was a stud.

5. The scene overall. Yes a lot of you picked up on the intentional styling…Mostly on the symmetry and balance of the shot. For example, the four chairs balancing out the four steps. The red circle on the gym floor and the LuluLemon logo, etc.

6. Camera stuff. Nikon D3x. Handheld while laying down on my frontside. f5.6 at 1/160. ISO 1000. Nikkor 24-70 2.8 shot at 32mm.

Why? D3x is a no brainer for single strobed shots. Lots of megapixels if we need to drill in on something, great dynamic range and high ISO capabilities. I chose the exposure so as to grab a little bit of ambient light, but not too much. Mostly I gauged the exposure off the walls under the hoop. I wanted to catch the lights on the walls at a certain level that read ‘grungy gym’. We then built the rest of the shot around that exposure. f5.6 gave me all the depth I needed for the subject and allowed the foreground to go outta focus for the logo, and the background to go outta focus to help set off my subject but still get a solid read on the environment.

7. Post production. We cranked this thru Aperture to generally make it moody and grimy and then did some blemish fixing–and some blemish enhancing (floor, hoop, etc)–in Photoshop.

Well, there ya go. Congrats again to J. Harrington for getting close, and a shoutout to everyone who shared in this. If you like these, we’ll keep doing ‘em, just let me know below.

Also, if there’s anything you’d like to know about the shot that I didn’t reveal here, ping me and I’ll do what I can to share some more.

77 Responses to Deconstruct This Photo 2.0 – REVEALED

  1. GT March 12, 2010 at 11:21 am #

    i came close on the wall lights :p

    "could also have 2 strobes mounted under the lip on the back wall but those are probably ambient… look like likely places for a real light to be… "

    congrats harrington!

    cool exercise chase

  2. Alex March 12, 2010 at 11:24 am #

    Interesting. Thanks Chase.

    I've always had the impression you are massively gifted in your understanding of social media, with your drive and your 'hustling' but less so with the technical aspects of making images.

    Certainly seems things are balancing out for you and its nice to see in ym eyes at least, you developing as a photographer.

    Keep it up Chase.

    From an assistant in the UK. All the best.

  3. March 12, 2010 at 11:25 am #

    I was confused by the wall lights – light, but no source. I figured I was imagining things. Congrats J. Harrington!

  4. Eric Kotara - Austin Photographer March 12, 2010 at 11:29 am #

    Love it Chase. You definitely are one of the greats. Not just because of your work, but your sharing.

    Keep it up, lots of good karma for this.


  5. Will Foster March 12, 2010 at 11:30 am #

    I enjoyed looking at the photo and deconstructing it, I donno why I didn't respond. But, this kind of stuff is what I love doing. Forget photography magazines, I am looking in Vogue trying to deconstruct photos, and deconstruct lighting techniques in movies like 300… It's always nice to hear how it was REALLY done to really get some more ideas for my own photo shoots. Keep em coming!

  6. Dominic DiMaria March 12, 2010 at 11:41 am #

    Thanks for this post! I learned a lot just reading how you executed this shot.

    I would love to see more of these!

  7. Will March 12, 2010 at 11:42 am #

    These are super fun to think about, and read others comments. Please do more of them!

    Thank You Chase!



  8. Matt March 12, 2010 at 11:44 am #

    It's amazing reading the details, yet the additional lighting is so subtle (i.e. fill, bounced off the floor) and uniform that, unless you're looking for it, it all seems natural. Great work, Chase! Thanks for sharing. Well done, J. Harrington!

  9. Bobby G March 12, 2010 at 11:48 am #

    What? Ken Rockwell said pros don't use midrange zooms.

  10. Allen Krughoff March 12, 2010 at 11:51 am #

    Diggin' the exercises! Kind of like a self-assigned photo skills quiz. Anyway, keep 'em coming! And you should do a workshop in Boulder, CO.


  11. bizior March 12, 2010 at 11:52 am #

    sure we want more! keep the juice flowing… :)

  12. Mike Wilson March 12, 2010 at 11:59 am #

    Thanks, Chase! I had a lot of fun working on that, and I wasn't too far off. Great tip about the big ol' sheet as a light panel. Good stuff :)

  13. ZC Photos March 12, 2010 at 11:59 am #

    This is really interesting. I hope you keep doing this.

    One extra step that would be really nice to see is the raw image before processing. Just sayin'

  14. March 12, 2010 at 12:00 pm #

    Loved this thing Chase!
    I learned one and two things first trying to break down the image, and then get your explanation.

    Keep up the good work!

  15. Nate March 12, 2010 at 12:16 pm #

    Thanks a LOT! I'm an amateur and this was extremely helpful in thinking through details! Please continue! :)


  16. Jason Collin Photography March 12, 2010 at 12:20 pm #

    I really like this format of blog post Chase. It was a real education on what exactly it takes to create this level of shot and other shots we see in advertising. It also just made my photo skill set seem smaller, which is good motivation to study/work/practice harder at the profession of photography.

  17. Daniel Cormier March 12, 2010 at 12:20 pm #

    Keep 'em coming, Chase. I find these nearly as interesting as your behind the scene videos, though for somewhat different reasons. With these, I get a sense of how a single picture comes together, while the videos give me a better idea of how your shoots go overall. Both are sides are fascinating to me.

  18. Webb March 12, 2010 at 12:25 pm #

    This is terrific. Really, really interesting to see a how a real talent behind the camera gets their results. I certainly hope this continues.

  19. Mark March 12, 2010 at 12:35 pm #

    Great work Chase. It is amazing to learn all the little nuances that go into getting the shot just they way you want it. Thank you for sharing.

  20. Jeff March 12, 2010 at 12:37 pm #

    I learn a lot from your blog and your talent. I love trying to deconstruct, especially when they are this tough.

    I vote "YES"

  21. Darren March 12, 2010 at 12:38 pm #

    Yes I'll be well up for some more of these!

  22. teko March 12, 2010 at 12:41 pm #

    Chase, can you show the image before the post-production?

  23. March 12, 2010 at 12:50 pm #

    This was great! I didn't comment myself for this one, but now that I've studied it along with the deconstruction, I can see the value in it and I'm eager to try it next time. Love your work. Thanks for sharing. Would like to see more of this!

  24. Anonymous March 12, 2010 at 12:55 pm #

    This is exactly the sort of thing that makes Facebook worth having, IMO.

  25. Farhad March 12, 2010 at 1:01 pm #

    Very exciting and educational. Please share more! ThnX

  26. Benjamin March 12, 2010 at 1:48 pm #

    Keep 'em a comin'. I should have posted. I guessed everything correctly except I thought you had a reflector off camera left to get more light to his right cheek. Something did look slightly off with the ambient wall lights. But I know that you like to balance your lighting on ambient. So it makes sense. And knowing the capabilities of high ISO on the D3X, I figured you shot somewhere between 800 and 1600. My guess was 1200. Oh and I debated softbox over the subject or something harsher like a beauty dish. Glad to see someone using a modifier in a not quite as common way.

    Great job.

    Keep these posts up. Keeps me and obviously a lot of others sharp.

  27. Stephen March 12, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    I love seeing the unedited jpeg! Thanks for doing that!

  28. OH SNAP! March 12, 2010 at 2:58 pm #

    I love this. Please keep doing it.

  29. Gavin Jowitt - Sydney Photographer March 12, 2010 at 3:13 pm #

    Thanks Chase… a really useful exercise. It was also useful to see the raw image. I don't no where you find the time!

  30. Simon Fleming March 12, 2010 at 3:35 pm #

    Great exercise Chase – enjoyed it + reading everyone else's comments a lot. Keep em coming…

  31. Phat Baby Photographer March 12, 2010 at 4:02 pm #

    Just curious – what's the horizontal beam of light on the raw image where the yoga rat verbiage is on the processed one? Thanks for sharing.

  32. Chris March 12, 2010 at 4:37 pm #

    Love the info and the format of the Deconstructing Blog entry… Keep it up!

  33. MIke Trozzo March 12, 2010 at 4:45 pm #

    Great stuff, please do more!

  34. prio March 12, 2010 at 5:06 pm #

    Always giving!!! I love that and you have always inspired me to do the same!

  35. Stephen Hunton March 12, 2010 at 5:19 pm #

    Chase, I really enjoy seeing the explanation of the set up as well as trying to figure out what things you've done to set up the shots. It's a great exercise, and really does help me in thinking through how I'd take on different shots. The level of detail you go into for each shot is what I strive for.

    Thanks for sharing.

  36. Squid Vicious March 12, 2010 at 7:47 pm #

    Chase you've helped me visualize more then anyone I know with photography using a flash and not. See the before and after is amazing. Like everyone else, thank you.

  37. James March 12, 2010 at 8:51 pm #

    Congrats Harrington!

    Thanks for this, it was fun. Please do more of this in the future, and thanks for all the sharing you do. Wonderful editing.

  38. Kelly Ng March 12, 2010 at 11:46 pm #

    I was totally off, but I love this exercise. more please!

  39. Maya March 13, 2010 at 12:00 am #

    Great stuff Chase.

    Really interesting to see how the image was constructed and also cool to see how the professionals do it.


    Love to see more.

  40. Patrick March 13, 2010 at 12:31 am #

    Great work Chase, really enjoyed this post, please keep doing it, can't wait for the next one.

  41. Boudewijn March 13, 2010 at 12:38 am #

    Hi Chase,

    great photo and explanation of how you did it.

    But I like to see more post-production videos.

    Keep it up!

  42. Patrick Hall March 13, 2010 at 1:07 am #

    Chase, this is a really interesting post and the thought process behind it is really great. And I don't mean just for gearheads but for photographers really wanting to learn the WHYs as well as the HOWs. Very informative.

    I know you've done a lot of videos in the past but do you have any desire to film some of these shoots and edit them down into a cool behind the scenes video? We would absolutely be thrilled to feature one on if you could talk to the audience a bit and show the final images. Your whole mentality about giving back is sooo inspiring; I love your outtake on life! Good work

  43. Tobias Ertel March 13, 2010 at 1:48 am #

    ISO 1000! You've gotta be kidding!? Or do you mean ISO 100? don´t you have a bad image qualty?

    kind regards Jimmy Klick from Germany

  44. Tristan March 13, 2010 at 7:39 am #


    Thanks for the wonderful post. I really enjoyed finding out what the process, tools and layout were.

    Thank you for putting in the time to put this together.

  45. Fenix March 13, 2010 at 9:23 am #

    Tobias, the D3-series from Nikon shoot amazingly smooth at those high ISOs. They slightly edge my Canon 5D mark ii, but with the 5Dmkii I wouldn't hesitste to shoot at 1000 with it if the job called for it.

    If that J. Harrington is John Harrington, his book on Best Practices should be required reading for ANYONE, considering going into this field, or even charging a little on the side.

  46. Jordan March 13, 2010 at 1:43 pm #

    It's wonderful to see not only such a detailed explanation of the lighting and motivation in this shot, but also the unprocessed image as well.

    I hope these keep coming.

  47. Nicole March 13, 2010 at 1:50 pm #

    Thanks a lot Chase. Your photo dissection really helps a ton! I'm looking forward to more.

  48. Dan Domme March 13, 2010 at 4:56 pm #

    This is the first time I've seen you deconstruct a photo, and it's possibly the most important single blog post I've ever read regarding lighting. I can't tell you how important it is that you keep posts like this coming in the future!

  49. MPMPhoto March 13, 2010 at 7:41 pm #

    Hey Chase…Thanks for the insight. I'd love to see more of these..I've learned so much from deconstructing other's images…

  50. Fotografi March 14, 2010 at 1:25 am #

    Kepp it easy. Great result with easy set up.
    Thanks to show us how to think a picture before the shooting.

  51. Tobias Best March 14, 2010 at 4:54 am #

    Greate idea! Loved reading it! Awesome that yourself as a pro share your methodes like this! (blog in general)


  52. Jason March 14, 2010 at 1:29 pm #

    I'd love some more details on the post-production. Particularly, how you went from dirty gym floor to shiny oak hard-wood!

    Also, why not use the medium format gear?

  53. bryce March 14, 2010 at 2:31 pm #

    This was great. I'd love to see more stuff like this.

  54. davidjn March 14, 2010 at 5:25 pm #

    I love this stuff. Keep them coming.

  55. free online kids games March 15, 2010 at 1:12 am #

    Awesome shot! Love it

  56. Daf Photography March 15, 2010 at 3:12 am #

    Thanks for sharing.

    A behind the scenes wide angle shot would also be handy if you ever do this sort of thing again.

    I'm always dexonstructing images on posters on the underground. SOftbox reflections in the eyes are great starting points.

  57. Joost March 15, 2010 at 3:58 am #

    Hi Chase,

    thanks for sharing stuff like this.

    I'd love to know how the whole proces went, from how the client found you, to what kind of instructions you were given and how you and your team came to this location and general idea is concerned…

    Also, how do you set a rate for a job like this? Do you take into account how the image is used or do you just charge an hourly rate and extra expenses?

    Thanks again!

    Keep it up :)



  58. Jeff Shaffer March 15, 2010 at 6:25 am #

    I'm really pleased to hear you say you prefer to get as much "in camera" as possible. As a pro shooter for over 20 years, I couldn't agree more.
    As a teacher, I also appreciate the info so clearly and simply presented.
    Many of my students think everything is done in Photoshop or Lightroom these days, so this will help me make the case for "old school" production.
    Keep'em coming, and maybe I'll do a few of my own as well!

  59. John March 15, 2010 at 6:28 am #

    Love this. Keep it up.

  60. Jonny March 15, 2010 at 12:49 pm #

    Cool! Looks like most people guessed the big soft light above :) Very cool exercise, thanks!

  61. Anonymous March 15, 2010 at 1:54 pm #

    just out of curiosity, does the client see the image before processing? I'm just wondering because the image before, in comparison to the processed image, looks dull and lifeless, in comparison, and it makes me wonder if the processed image looks so radically different than the original, why bother with lights and expensive cameras when your really doing all the work in aperture? why not just buy a d90 and shoot everything ambient when its going to look so different after aperture? This seems to be more about processing the image than lighting it.

  62. fioritofoto March 16, 2010 at 7:07 am #

    Thanks, Mr. Jarvis!
    I was semi-close I guess, but learned a lot with this explanation. I too love seeing the unedited shot beside the final product!

    Do it again soon!

  63. Mason Trullinger March 16, 2010 at 10:25 am #

    Nice job making a relatively complex lighting setup look a lot less complex.

    Regarding the post production on the floor, did you know in advance that they wanted to use white text there so you cranked up the contrast on the floor?

  64. Anonymous March 16, 2010 at 10:45 am #

    Fisrt time responding and I just want to say keep posting these, it is interesting as an amature photographer to see the shot from the camera compared to the finished image.

  65. Chase Jarvis March 16, 2010 at 10:58 am #

    @ mason. yes. we had the layout on set with us and were dropping images into it to check our crop, etc.

  66. Karill M. Diaz March 16, 2010 at 1:13 pm #

    This is great stuff! I'm a newbie at photography, so it's fascinating to learn all the work that goes on behind the scenes. I won't participate in the guessing game until I become more confident, but I'm definitely looking forward to observing and learning from these posts. Please keep doing them!

  67. Anonymous March 18, 2010 at 7:47 pm #

    Yes… would be amazing to have a thousand more of these "deconstruct" shots. Love to see the master at work!

  68. karl Bratby March 19, 2010 at 4:07 pm #

    thanks for info

  69. Anonymous March 24, 2010 at 9:47 pm #

    I would love to see more of these challenges. Definitely a great exercise allowing a better glimpse into a more creative photographic mind.

  70. Mike Appels March 25, 2010 at 2:23 am #

    Thanks A lot!
    I'm rather new to the whole photography deal and I would love to see more of this stuff- learn about lighting techniques and all, I love it!

    Wondering though, anybody know how the Yellow Line was removed in post prod? whether it was cloning or anything else? Cheers and Keep It up! Everybody loves it!!


  71. Jonathan May 6, 2010 at 8:59 pm #

    damn chase, these are invaluable cheers!

  72. Bimal Nair May 6, 2010 at 11:23 pm #

    Hi Chase!
    this is a great exercise and is a very enriching experience of how to get certain results. Please continue sharing such great tips.
    Thanks a million for sharing everything that you’ve till date.

  73. Elvia October 19, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

    Nice replies in return of this query with real arguments and explaining the whole thing about that.

  74. Eryn October 25, 2014 at 1:11 am #

    Finally……. a functioning 4story moonstone crack:

  75. Rogelio February 16, 2015 at 4:21 pm #

    Thank you for your links Kickettes!!

  76. minecraft seeds February 21, 2015 at 1:32 pm #

    google + news


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