Vote -- And Consider Uplighting

First of all, if you are reading this in the US, get off your butt and go vote today. Either that, or don't complain during the next four years no matter what. I'm just saying.

That said, take a look at this morning's Washington Post. They are running the expected, "same play" careful coverage that a newspaper has to run, lest it get howling complaints.

(Seriously, people count square inches and write in. So you need to keep them even, especially on critical days like November 4th.)

But enough election talk. Thankfully, we are almost done with that. It has been a long two years.

This morning's front page also is a very interesting look into lighting styles -- and media control. After you have voted, make the jump for a little more on the lighter side (so to speak) of this front page.

The Same, But Different

Looking at the two lead photos, McCain by Melina Mara and Obama by Linda Davidson, I am struck by the difference in the lighting. (Click here to see it bigger.)

Needless to say, a lot of thought goes into lighting political events. The campaign staff wants to do all of the heavy lifting, so the media can swoop in and get stuff that looks good with a minimum of effort.

In that sense, how you light your candidate is a point of significant control. Do it well, and he/she looks like a hero. That's a strong visual statement. And it is somewhat subconscious, which makes it even stronger.

McCain is classic Michael Deaver. And by that, I mean, create a little looking-into-the-sunset lighting and line up the shooting pits to where they show your guy in front of a big American flag.

Deaver (Reagan's Deputy Chief of Staff) was the first to exploit on a large scale the idea that, if you controlled the lighting/backdrop/shooting location, you could damn near put your candidate on a movie set. It helps if your candidate was a former actor, too.

Reagan, of course, was exactly that. And since the Reagan/Deaver (or maybe, Deaver/Reagan) one-two punch was so well executed, that strategy went a long way towards crafting a heroic visual image of Reagan in the media. The media could hardly help themselves, either -- Deaver had seen to that.

The lighting and shooting geometry on McCain are now pretty much standard procedure. It works, too. Not even Jill Greenberg could make the guy look bad in that situation.

But looking over at Obama's photo, I find myself wondering if his campaign's lighting person is not trying to evolve the Deaver look a little bit. The first thought that came to my mind when I saw this morning's dual front was to notice the uplighting.

I have been interested in learning more about uplighting when I realized that the technique was one of the reasons I like so many of Greg Heisler's photos. I love the way it sculpts and creates form and texture.

I have played with it a little bit, in a random, clunky way. And even my first clumsy efforts were encouraging enough to make me decide to learn more about it. I want to approach it in a more thorough way, as we presently are doing with on-axis fill. And I hope to write about the technique later.

Seeing Linda's Obama photo above (lit probably not by her but by a campaign staffer who appears to know their stuff) really shows the power of the technique. All the more so because it it juxtaposed against the technique that has been the Gold Standard of making a US politician look heroic and significant for the last 25 years.

Not to say that uplighting is anything new. But clearly, it is a powerful way to accent light -- and one that certainly lends itself to speedlight-based lighting. Sad, but after two years of non-stop campaigning being shoved down my throat, this is what I notice on the Big Day.

To me, the Obama photo looks like it jumped off of the pages of WIRED Magazine. Which is pretty amazing, really, when you consider that the person who shot the photo was not the person who decided the light.

In a time of increasingly sophisticated visual presentation in the media, it is interesting to me that we might be seeing the next chapter in the Michael Deaver playbook.

Feel free to electioneer ad nauseum in the comments. (No). This is a Red-Blue-Free-Zone. But I would be curious to know your nonpolitical thoughts about the differences in lighting above. If you have covered either campaign, feel free to chime in with lighting-related observations. Although, I would think you are probably busy today, at least.

Seriously, the politically-tinged stuff is strongly discouraged. Plenty of other places for that. Save the politics for the one place that it really matters.

Please vote today.


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