Annie Leibovitz online master class

Discussion in 'Portraits and Fashion' started by DrBen, Dec 14, 2017.

  1. Annie Leibovitz is giving a 14 module master class on portrait photography that can be followed online or downloaded. There is a short video trailer on the course page that is worth watching even if the class is not your cup of tea.

    Annie Leibovitz Teaches Photography | MasterClass
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  2. The class is truly inspirational. It isn't the typical gear and how to light class. It is a window into the creative process and then capture rather than mechanics. To the gear heads, she may be a disappointment as she is a minimalist and tends to work on location where she stays with the direction of light and gives it a bit of help. With lenses, she says use only one and master it.
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  3. She had to do something to pay off her debts. lol I think the price is very reasonable.
  4. Michael, I'm not surprised you were one of the folks interested based on your work. Yes, Annie got hammered with taxes when she inherited Susan Sontag's estate. The preview gave me hope that someone else sees photography that way. It gives me another lighting style in my quiver since I tend to over power ambient or eliminate it entirely rather than nudge it as she likes. Experimenting with it the last couple of days.
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  5. Bob, I am a fan of Annie and I have picked up lighting techniques for free on youtube behind scenes which I use when I use single light on location. I am not interested in the videos at this time as I am more a tech person but I like to see a successful photographer put out instruction videos and I think she would offer a great value to any photographer. I will wait however as I am still saving money for some equipment upgrades. :)
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  6. The price seems to be very reasonable to the value one would get from a look into AL's mind.
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  7. From what I’ve read, she had financial problems long before inheriting Susan’s property and estate. Brilliant at making portraits doesn’t translate to good financial sense and decision-making. No reason to laugh at it, though.

    I do love her work. Saw her interviewed in person for an arts and lecture series here in San Francisco a few years ago and was so excited to see her . . . and she was a total bore. Seemed like she just didn’t want to be there. She told one or two fun anecdotes about her days with the Stones, but otherwise seemed way off. Possibly just a bad night.

    I imagine her master class will be much better. Her big retrospective at the Legion of Honor here, which coincided with her book, A Photographer’s Life, was wonderful. As impressive as her portraits were her photos of family, particularly her parents when aged and dying. They had a more documentary feel while also coming across as deeply personal, not at all commercial.

    She developed a niche and put an indelible stamp on it, seizing her culture and bringing it in unique ways to her audience.
  8. I've bought a couple of her books and find that I like a lot of her early work that was done more simply. Often she was shooting for Rolling Stone and captured people off stage and not in performance mode. Some truly wonderful work. At some point I think she went commercial and I didn't enjoy that as much. Portraiture is my weak spot, one of them anyway, and I may try some of these videos out. For me it is not the technical side but getting through to the subject and getting them relaxed. Maybe she will have some insight.

    Rick H.
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  9. Looks interesting. What is the total time of all of the videos in the Leibovitz class?
  10. Just finished the class. As Bob said, it is inspirational. I am looking forward to working through a number of the assignments. I think the class was exactly right for what I need at this point. Strongly recommended!
  11. And her description of working with cloudy days then adding studio strobe one stop under ambient to give direction to the soft light, something I hadn't done with studio gear, only as fill flash on camera. I had to think about how to get the strobe 1 stop under ambient out doors, I can't turn off the sun. Sekonic meters give the percentage of flash contribution to the reading. If my math is right, one stop under means there is twice as much ambient, so 2 units of ambient and 1 unit of strobe, or 1 of 3, 33 %. When I take a reading of the subject with flash, I adjust strobe power til it adds 20-30% to the exposure. I can't think of any other way of doing that with a meter outdoors. Anyone have any metering suggestions?
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  12. Bob, yes because you mentioned this point about 1 stop under ambient, I paid close attention to what Annie said in the class about this.

    I am doing an assignment from the class, which is to photograph a person close to you, as they look through photographs of himself throughout his life. I'm using natural window light with a puff of off camera strobe 1 stop under ambient. To be fair it's a Sunpak 622 with an auto feature on a light stand.

    To further explore this point, I have been playing with a Maxxum 9 and have dialed the on-camera flash compensation -2 EV. I do not like the on-camera flash light quality (direction and harshness), but it will be interesting to see the exposure results. Getting some modelling in the eye sockets is an idea I'm aiming for.

    If I was using studio lighting I would do as you mentioned, adjust strobe power until flash is 33% of the exposure on a Sekonic flash mater. Experience will also guide this. From a gut level, if the meter is saying 50% of exposure is from strobe, this means strobe=ambient, which is not what Annie is talking about as I understand it. So strobe needs to go down.

    Annie used the words "dark" and "darker" often, in several of the lessons. Interesting choice of words.
  13. Great idea to compare on camera flash with your studio strobe experiment. How about bouncing the strobe off a light wall with a 1 stop under setting? I will try that myself and compare to see if the ratio is similar. I'll try it with a studio strobe then bounce a flash off the light wall of my house. Probably a difference in shadow edge transfer, but might confirm I am close on the ratio with the 35-30% sekonic reading.
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  14. Bob I think that will get the right exposure but as you mentioned the directionality will change. For the shoot I am doing on Saturday I want to retain the quality and direction of the ambient and give a small amount of support from the strobe.
  15. In my experiment, the on camera flash would bounce of a wall, with the wall becoming the source and the light coming off the wall at a particular angle to the subject. I can replicate that angle by placing a studio strobe on a stand coming in at the same direction as the bounced light. If I set the ttl bounced light at one stop under, the ratio should be pretty close to my strobe with a 30% contribution per the sekonic meter. This is only a test for ratio, direction with strobe on a stick is easily placed in the direction of the ambient. Learned a technique at PPA I had never seen before to determine direction of light. With your forearm and hand going straight up, with fingers straight up, relax the fingers and drop the middle finger part way to the palm. The other fingers will drop a bit. When the middle finger shadow is directly below it on the palm, the ring finger is pointing in the direction of the light. Helpful in overcast days when direction of the light is difficult to determine.
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  16. Bob, great idea to determine direction of light.

    Today I put 2 rolls of C-41 in the can with an indoor portrait shoot. One of the subjects was a Leibovitz Masterclass assignment, which is to have someone close to you show a series of photographs from throughout their life. I did this with my dad and it was great.

    The lighting was mostly natural window light on an overcast late morning. I added strobe fill, one stop under ambient. The Sekonic L758DR said flash was around 30% of total exposure. Looking forward to seeing the results. I am moving my house, so my film processing system is not running at the moment. I need to get creative to get the film developed and negatives scanned.

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