Ladies & Gentlemen…Mr. Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett

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Tony Bennett

Yes…Tony Bennett…!!!

I have a very short, unspoken list of people that I would never presume I would have the opportunity to meet, let alone get to photograph. That list has included Jacques Cousteau, Steven Spielberg, Christopher Reeve, and a few Presidents. But a couple of weeks ago, Kat Malott at the Wall Street Journal gave me the call. Tony Bennett. Tony sketches or paints every day, and Kat…the Photo Editor for the ‘Mansions’ section…wanted me to shoot Tony the Artist, at home with his paintings. The idea was to show him in his studio and keep things as ‘real’ as possible. Given that it was a painting studio, I kinda hoped the available light would make things easy in that respect. I wasn’t disappointed. Here is how things looked…

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The big wall of windows next to the easel face North onto Central Park and the east-facing windows would act as a nice fill, but I would still have to pull out my DIY Ghetto-Flo’s to to act as a main light, while still keeping the natural look of the scene. I didn’t need too much front light…two of the Ghetto’s should do it…

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photo 2

photo 1

The two strip lights added just enough soft light to mimic the existing light without looking like we faked it…

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And away we go…

Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett

It was natural enough that even with a camera angle change, we didn’t have to move the lights…

Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett

And even more extreme angle change for a still life of his easel and a bronze of Harry Belafonte let us use that North window light as our main source…

Tony Bennett

With the ‘Artist’ portraits in the bag, I pressed for a few extra minutes to do a quick portrait using the wall opposite the windows…

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As you can see, the setup couldn’t be simpler…just a mini-octa bank and a soft ringlight. We put down the Canon, and pulled out the Hasselblad and the Macbeth chart…

Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett

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Thanks Tony…that’s one more thing checked off my Bucket List.

Tony Bennett

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13 thoughts on “Ladies & Gentlemen…Mr. Tony Bennett

  1. nice. nicer than nice. those “ghetto flo’s,” are they daylight balanced? those babies are huge. do you have enough $ lying around to try a couple of flat panel led’s? ghetto led’s?

  2. For an ugly photographer the pictures are first rate. You seem to have captured the real Mr. Bennett in his personal space. This is an excellent example of photo-journalism. Congratulations are in order. Drinks are on you!

  3. I can’t imagine how cool it would be to meet and photograph someone of Tony Bennett’s stature. Congratulations on a job well done and achieving something like this.

  4. Sweet. I hear he’s a nice man. Love the shots… I still want to try (a/k/a steal/copy) your method of using the octa or dish as the key, and the ring for fill. It’s very subtle and works great when you can’t get a reflector in there and don’t want to kill the shadows/ratios using another light. I need to read up on your GhettoFlos, and why you choose them? Are they rugged/portable? Variable output? One more thing or two to carry, so I assume they do something for you strobes won’t. Thanks!

  5. Sweet. I hear he’s a nice man. Love the shots… I still want to try (a/k/a steal/copy) your method of using the octa or dish as the key, and the ring for fill. It’s very subtle and works great when you can’t get a reflector in there and don’t want to kill the shadows/ratios using another light. I need to read up on your GhettoFlos, and why you choose them? Are they rugged/portable? Variable output? One more thing or two to carry, so I assume they do something for you strobes won’t. Thanks!

    The DIY GhettoFlos are hardly rugged and only a marginally portable, but they’re wicked cheap and the work fantastic for what I use them for. I also have some small LED light panels (1’x1′ & 4″x6″), but for a big whack of soft continuous light, nothing beats a bank of 4′ tubes! BT

  6. That octa still has a good bit of pop to it, which I guess is mostly due to distance hardening things up just a bit? Just a single diffusion layer too, or both inner and outer? So glad that he gave you time to get the “produced” shots for you, even though the assignment was more environmental and “real.” That opener on the blog post is money.

    Thanks. I haven’t put the front diffuser on that Octa since I got it. What’s the point? If I wanted a soft-as-Hell light, I could pull out any bank light. I keep the inner diffuser in 95% of the time…BT

  7. Could you have gotten close to same look with the Canon? What lens on the Hassey?

    The walls are bluish in the final shot. How did you maintain the right skin color w/o a filter?

    Can’t get over the DYI Ghetto-flos, what bulbs do you use and a cover? Thanks

    1. Files outta the Canon and the Hasselblad/Leaf never look the same. I had the 50mm on the Hasselblad.
    2. I white balanced the Hasselblad shot at around 4900K, which cooled the look down a bit, but not so much that the skin tones looked dead. But once I was in Photoshop, I added the slight blue cast by adding cyan in the shadows and blue to the highlights in color balance, as well as adding more cyan to the shadows in the red channel in levels.
    3. The Ghetto-Flos are 100% Ghetto…nothing fancy about those bulbs, they’re just 5000k, off-the-shelf straight from Home Depot! I have some 3200K bulbs as well, but they’re only used if I want to balance the subject at 3200K and let the background go REALLY blue.

    BT

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