I found Annie Leibovitz's EXIF data.

Discussion in 'Portraits and Fashion' started by crowdspotting, Sep 23, 2007.

  1. I'm not sure where to post this message, it would fit well in any of ten

    I think I've stumbled upon Annie Leibovit's EXIF data. Maybe.

    I live in Chicago, and our city has been plastered with posters and ads for the
    GAP's newest line of clothes. The ad campaign features celebrities,
    photographed on a simple background. The images are (or they ended up being)
    black and white.

    I wanted to find out how the Leebster decided to light her subjects, and so I
    went to the GAP's web site, where they have all of the images (in 1300x1800
    resolution) that you can download. My goal was to find reflections in the eyes,
    etc. that might tell me how many lights she used, how she modified the light,


    For most of them, it appears she used a single light with an umbrella and some
    reflectors - but that's not the point of this posting.

    In Photoshop, I opened the image of Forest Whitaker, and noticed that there
    were aqua-blue layout guides laying over the image. I figured it was
    accidentally left there from one of the GAP's graphic designers or whatever. So
    I checked out the EXIF properties (File > File Info...) and among other things,
    the camera make, model, exposure settings, etc. are all there. You know, your
    every day metadata stuff.

    The EXIF info shows that these images were shot using a Phase One P30 back on
    an unknown camera model. The most surprising thing to me was that some of the
    images list the camera as a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II. So if the metadata is
    accurate, she shoots both 35mm and medium format, both digital of course.

    For the 35mm stuff, she appears to shoot with a focal length from around 50mm
    to 85mm depending on her subject. f/13.0 is the common aperture value. ISO 100
    is universal across all of these images; sRGB is the color space recorded from
    the camera. There's all kinds of geeky stuff to look at under the "Advanced"
    menu item in the "File Info..." function of Photoshop.

    Could this really be Annie Leibovitz's EXIF data? Is it surprising to anyone
    but me that a big brand like GAP would post images with the original metadata
    intact? Even in corporate America we're taught to cleanse our Word and Excel
    files of their "Properties" before emailing them to clients beyond the

    If this *is* her data, what a great way to learn the technical details of a big-
    name photographer.


  2. Finding Annie's EXIF data would be like finding out where Clapton gets his guitar strings. Interesting, but it hardly enables you to duplicate the success.
    Lighting doesn't show up in EXIF data. But even the lighting techniques aren't the cornerstone of her success.
    She's a success because she combines technical competence with social skills, creativity, and a reputation that gives her access. The latter factors are much more difficult to acquire than the technical mastery.
  3. > If this *is* her data, what a great way to learn the technical details of a big- name photographer.

    Not really, Jeff - you don't know what lights she was using, their output, were any reflectors used, the lighting ratio, etc. All you know is her shutter speed, ISO, and f-stop, and maybe the lens ... but none of that will help you take a better picture (unless you should in the same studio with the identical equipment - and even then its all meaningless because its the eye of the photographer that means everything, not the equipment or settings).

  4. "Finding Annie's EXIF data would be like finding out where Clapton gets his guitar strings.
    Interesting, but it hardly enables you to duplicate the success."

    He uses Ernie Ball Super Slinkies, and anyone who has ever heard me play guitar would agree
    with you.
  5. Thanks for the input. Maybe I wasn't clear about my orginial intentions of the post.

    I didn't mean to imply that I was looking at the EXIF data to see how she lit each scene. And I wasn't suggesting that seeing the EXIF data was going to allow me to make photographs like hers. Both expectations are silly.

    I simply found it interesting that the EXIF data was still there, having been through whatever post-processing that her staff, the GAP's staff, creative agency, web design firm or whoever edited the images from the time they left her camera to the time they appeared on gap.com.

    But even only knowing the exposure settings and choice of lens, each have some value in the learning process. It's just interesting to know that she shoots certain types of portraits one way, and other portraits a different way. When I was a lab rat in the 80s, I wanted to know what developer and dilution Ansel used when he souped his sheet film, because I suspected that he knew a thing or two about the subject :)

    I downloaded the images to study them - even though anyone can see that the lighting is clearly simplistic. Upon close inspection of the higher-rez images, you can see the octagonal catchlight of the umbrella main light, a hint of a reflector or two, and you can measure the ratio of main/fill light using Photoshop to learn how it might be able to create that level of drama in your own photos. Of course, the images could have been manipulated afterwards, but you catch my drift.

  6. it


    That's interesting.
  7. Umm . . . couldn't you learn most of this (plus more about the lighting) watching the video's of Annie shooting that come out now and then? For example, I'm sure I seen a sequence of her oscillating between a medium format and a 1Ds while doing a shoot.
  8. But, I will certainly admit that it IS interesting that the .exif data was left attached all the way to the public posting.
  9. Isn`t it interesting how some questions/comments get all twisted to make you look like a boob? Usually done by people who don`t read it carefully.
  10. it


    Umm . . . couldn't you learn most of this (plus more about the lighting) watching the video's of Annie shooting that come out now and then?
    If you're interested in a particular photographer's methods, I think all of these are pieces of the overall puzzle. Her lighting setups are big. Her team does huge pre-lights and she tests a lot of filtration. I read an interview with ex-assistant, now major photog Martin Schoeller where he detailed her prep methods. Interesting but useless info unless you have US$20K per day budgets.
    Anyway, no matter how much info you gather, you cannot make your stuff look like hers. YMMV.
  11. Ian, for me it made a difference when i heard that they shoot 200 polaroids days before the shoot to find the right setup. for me a shoot was setting up lights while they were doing makeup ! well you could figure this out yourself, and you get there at some point.

    of course iso 100 and the lens choice and apperture was clear also. but the thing that made me wonder i why do they shoot in S rgb !!

  12. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    the thing that made me wonder i why do they shoot in S rgb !!
    I believe she is shooting with a back that shoots only in RAW, so the color space setting doesn't matter.
  13. For me, it looks like its shott straight into JPG. Look at the orgin date and time against the final time. No processingtime in CS2. Looks like the only thing happend is cropping/re-sizing in CS2 and saved.
  14. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    It was shot on 5/16 and output from CS2 on 7/30. That looks like plenty of time for processing in CS2. Also, EXIF often shows a jpeg compression if it was also output in jpeg.
  15. I've been impressed with the Gap series and the data is kinda interesting to find. Knowing it probably wouldn't have helped me make this imitation shot any better! That's why she makes the big bucks...
  16. I shoot NEFs and Large Fine JPGs with the camera set on sRGB, because the browser I use likes sRGB better and gives a better skin tone. The browser pulls the jpgs for previewing, so the skin tones look better when the client and I preview the shots. All NEFs are converted to ProPhoto PSDs or Adobe98RGB tifs (depending on the converter) and eventually trickle down to sRGB for web display. If you are lifting these files from the web, of course they are sRGB.
    What kind of shoes does Kobe wear? and the laces? What about his jock strap? That has to contribute to his vertical leap... t
  17. How do you find the exif data?
  18. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    How do you find the exif data?
    I use Opanda iExif, which works inside the web browser. The alternate method is to download it and look in Photoshop or something similar.
  19. Whether or not it is really useful, I do think it's interesting that the EXIF data is there. I went over to the Banana Republic site that was linked, and the EXIF for the runway models is there too. Looks like the photographer was using a D2x.
  20. Jeff, I think the info you found is fascinating, and I do the same thing - look for catchlights, etc. Of course we know it won't make us Annie Leibovitz - we just want to be the best we can be. It's like schooling yourself.

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