reverse engineering a photo

camera & flash settings: photo session with a couple in bright sunlight

Analyzing other photographer’s work to figure out how they got the result, and figure out how to re-create it if you want, is a solid exercise. I do it often. It’s part of expanding your understanding of photography and lighting, and a way of expanding your technique and your repertoire.

The challenge to figure out the camera settings and additional lighting for a sequence of photos from an engagement photo session - reverse engineering an image: photo session with a couple in bright sunlight - had some interesting guess-work, and some good sleuthing.

Let’s have a look at the images posted in the challenge, and then slowly step through the thought-process. Some of these are near-instinctive decisions, but some are done with a quick frown and an “ok, let’s do it this way then”:

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reverse engineering an image: photo session with a couple in bright sunlight

When I posted this sequence of photos on Facebook of Jessica and Tony’s engagement photo session in New York, there were a flurry of questions. Which lens? 50mm? 85mm? What type of lighting? What were my camera settings?

Well, this stuff has been covered before with numerous articles on photography technique, and lighting with photo sessions. So by now, anyone who regularly follows the Tangents blog, and have done some reading, will be able to figure this out.

So here’s your challenge – look at the photos, look at the location, and reverse engineer the camera settings and lighting. Figure out the possible camera settings, lens choice, focal length, and details about the lighting. I’ve added 1200 px images if you click through, to make the thought-process easier.

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photography technique: wedding portraits on the beach

I had the great pleasure of photographing Sarah and Antonio’s wedding in Santa Monica, California. For the romantic portrait, we went down to the beach in the late afternoon. With the pier in the background, and with the sun (even at 5pm) still beating down, the photos were going to look vibrant, with that sun-drenched look. Beautiful.

When I posted the photos in an album on Facebook, a number of people asked me about this (and other photos), and how I photographed them. The technique is quite straight-forward, as described in numerous articles on the Tangents blog. With that, instead of just giving the hard numbers of the camera settings, and a few details … I thought it might be better as a challenge to followers of the Tangents blog, to reverse engineer this, and figure out the details. So yes, there’s a little bit of homework involved.

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wedding portraits with multiple light sources

We have a winner for the contest we had last week, where we had to reverse-engineer the lighting in a photograph. I’ll be contacting the winner who will shortly receive a $50 B&H gift voucher. Thank you everyone for vigorously participating!

Here is Josh Lynn to explain what he did for the lighting in the contest image, of which the photo above is the wider shot. This photo reveals more of the one light source. …

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wedding portraits with multiple light sources

edited on Dec 08, 2010 :
contest winner has been announced, with feedback from Josh about this photograph

When we’ve previously featured photographs that we tried to reverse engineer, there was a great response by readers of the Tangents blog. Similarly, many participated in the recent Photoshop contest. So I’ve decided that we should combine the two. Maybe even make it a regular event.

The contest then is to reverse engineer this photograph in terms of the lighting.
The winner gets a $50 B&H gift card!

Again, the photograph to be analyzed was shot by my friend Josh Lynn. It was taken during the romantic portrait session during a recent wedding.  The setup featured 5 light sources, and Josh was kind enough to give us a head-start with this diagram of how the lights were placed:

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off camera flash for portraits of the bridal couple

My friend, Josh Lynn, just posted this spectacular wedding photograph.  It does look like he used flash there, so I thought this would make a another good example to see if we can ‘reverse engineer’ a photograph in terms of his settings and setup.

I first had a guess at how he set this up; and then had a look at the EXIF data, and this revealed the true story.  See if you can decipher this image yourself, without scrolling down at first …

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combining off-camera flash and ambient light

For a semi-guest-post this week, I thought I’d use a photo taken by my friend Josh Lynn, and reverse-engineer the lighting.  By scrutinizing the photo, we’ll try and decipher how he set this up.  I did of course have the help of double-checking with Josh himself, and by checking the EXIF data.

Josh is a New Jersey wedding photographer - but this photo of our model, Danielle, was taken at a recent photo shootout in Manhattan.  Josh led a group of photographers showing some lighting techniques.

So let’s see what we can figure out here …

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