Annie-Tated Video: Leibovitz Shoots Rihanna for Vogue

Oh hey, it's time for another fully annotated Annie Leibovitz BTS video—this time featuring the lovely and talented Rihanna, shot for Vogue.

Hit the jump and follow the bouncing ball to see what we can learn with a little close examination. Annotations follow, below…

Your Annotated Rihanna BTS Vid

00:09 -- Damn, it's windy today.

00:23 -- Totally controlling the environment here. The wind is from a can (or, rather, a large-ish fan) and the crappy midday light is being blocked from Rihanna with a giant shade umbrella. This is not the light source though, this is just to create shade.

00:29 -- Ooh, I like this. Just pick up a shovel full of fine dirt and let that fan turn it into ambience in the background. I say "in the background," because I am pretty sure they don't wanna be pelting her with that stuff.

00:31 -- Okay, there you go. Nice wide shot. Make that two, huge umbrellas to shade her. Then the key is at right (looks like a Softlighter) and a raaather large Octa at left for fill. You know, just like you use. There's also another, far more serious fan. Holy crap. Maybe off of a B-52 or something?

(On a related note, I just found out my Vagabond Mini Lithium will power my electric leaf blower, if at a lower speed. Budget location win.)

00:49 -- And here's your pic:

00:53 -- Hmm… full-blown sun, no protection and a beauty dish pushing from the same direction. Why would you do that? Because you are gonna overpower the sun with the better, aim-able dish. You keep continuity with the ambient light and still get to keep attention on your subject. This is mostly big-light stuff.

Also, the dish is socked. This turns a beauty dish into a circular soft box. No shape to the beam, just radiates. Thus it is throwing a wide beam to over-light the weeds in front right along with Rihanna. If you have some white nylon and elastic, this is cheap and easy to make.

01:07 -- Here's what it looks like. Note the dish is keyed directly to the direction of her face, right on the nose. But it matches the compass (if not vertical) direction of the sun. Glamour light, with a logic consistent with the surroundings:

01:17 -- The key here is on a stick, held by an assistant. Leibovitz does this a lot. Both versatile and variable. Key will follow the face, and from the direction her face is looking. As Rihanna moves, the key will move, too.

01:25 -- More wind on the leaves, too. Looks cool:

01:29 -- Another soft-light-on-a-stick as a key. Looks like a Profoto Batt-Pac powering the whole thing. For all of the gear Leibovitz carts around (or, has carted around for her) she is very simple and confident with her lighting. Human-held soft light, balanced beautifully with the ambient. She is in her wheelhouse here. I would note that Rihanna appears to be crawling around in snow, but Leibovitz is on a comfy blanket. Priorities, people.

01:33 -- On the light balance: just a little kiss of light here. Not nearly as much of a push as in the other pics. Almost looks like it is not there, but you'd definitely miss it if it weren't:

01:41 -- And finally here's the cover shot, as seen up top, happening. Video is filming from Leibovitz's camera left, so don't be fooled by the relative light direction. This brings together a few things from above: Umbrella shades the sun on Rihanna; wind machine blows dirt to clean up the background and socked dish as key light from slight camera left.

01:42 -- Rihanna is in the umbrella's shade here, with no apparent fill light. So this will be a hard lighting ratio, and coming from near on-camera. Very glam. (Photo up top.)

So, as usual with Leibovitz, several cool tidbits to learn if you are willing to watch closely. Not much subject interaction on this one (really love those, personally). But if you want more of that you can check out the annotated BTS of her Keith Richards shoot. Good stuff there.

All photos ©Annie Leibovitz/Vogue. Click on any pic to go to the Rihanna Vogue article.


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