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  1. #1

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    Gregory Crewdson

    Hi there

    Does anyone know anything about the technique of this photographer?

    http://www.nuncoo.com/blog/archives/...y%20dinner.jpg
    http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-imag...19/crew372.jpg
    http://www.sheffieldgalleries.org.uk.../Crewdson1.jpg

    His photographs seem halfway between photographs and oil paintings. The tones look like they were painted.
    Is he using heavy retouching, or some other trick like masking or something?

  2. #2
    VoidoidRamone's Avatar
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    I just got his newest retrospective book and in it it says that all of his newer prints are digital c-prints. So I would imagine the part look he acheieves is in the computer. But he does also shoot 8x10 and has limitless access to lighting. And a lot of his shots are shot on a soundstage that he has total control over.
    -Grant

  3. #3
    david b's Avatar
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    I know that he shoots 8x10 color. Most of his photographs take days if not weeks to set up. Lots of lighting. Lots of people to set up.

  4. #4

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    Yea, I can see that it is being lit, the atmosphere is set by lighting, but the tones and colors look heavily processed

  5. #5

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    I took a photography history class at the local college and Crewdson was one of the artist we discussed. I'm not a color guy but his elaborate set ups really got to me.

    Mike A

  6. #6

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    Crewdson revisited


    Ok, I stumpled upot this great polish site, where they have high resolution exelent quality scans of his work. Enough to make 6x9 prints (and I'm going to do just that)
    http://www.fotomuseum.ch/presse/0606...ses,300dpi.jpg
    http://www.fotomuseum.ch/presse/0606...ses,300dpi.jpg

    these are two examples

    At this size the images seem a bit different. They look more realistic. The smaller size images looked more painterly, while in this size it looks more real.

    At this point I'd say this looks like HDR to me.
    Gregory is known to make houndrets of exposures for one image, throwing away some sheets, while combining the rest of them in one image. He does a lot of pasting together, so naturally using HDR would not be much of a suprize because he pastes multiple images into one anyway.

    It has this flat, yet not washed out look. Sort of like every object has nice punchy contrast, yet different areas are flatened out together as if they are all of the same exposure. This is typical of HDR imaging.
    I don't do HDR myself, but I've seen some of the HDR work on the internet, and it really looks a lot like this.

    But of course, now, at this size i can see that 80% of the look is in the lighting. It's amazing what this man does with lights. It seems like he controls every little shadow in the picture, even in outdoors, he must have rigged an entire streets with lighting for this stuff.

    So this is my final theory, you tell me does it make sense:

    He sets up complex lighting, just like on old movie sets. He shoots many images, many different exposure settings, many lights on-off (like motion control work in movies), then some with people in the scene, some without people etc.
    Some of the lighting as it is rendered would require missing lights that are not there in the image, so I think he lights all these objects in different sheets, then erases the lighting maybe when combining with sheets where there is no such lighting. For example putting a flash in front of a person, then copying that area from a sheet where there was no flash, or maybe not even the person etc.
    Then he merges the environment into this HDR landscape, then he puts people/cars and everything else that maybe required separate exposures.
    Then he enhances the skintones a bit on some images by some basic retouching tricks to get a more fantasy-like falloff of light onthe skin, typical advertising retouching, but only subtle I think.
    Then he enhances the saturation globally and whoila

    Does that make sense?

  7. #7

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    Maybe there is some subtle digital retouching, foremost any one of the numerous ways to dodge and burn, but I don't think you'd have to blend exposures or use composites to do what he's doing.

    That street shot Nyarachrome100d posted is sometehing else, not so much for the concept, but just the light set-up that went into a still shot. Rig the street with rain sprinklers. A few big HMIs (20ks) up on cranes over the street, then lighting the inside of stores, the front of the buildings of the cranes too, and the car/actor with open faces bounced. Who knows though, unless they were there.

    Check out the more realistic, but almost more surreal (precisely b/c it's not staged) work of Joel Sternfeld: http://www.billcharles.com/sternfeld...ternfeld_1.htm

  8. #8
    JBrunner's Avatar
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    This is basic cinematic lighting, combinations of tungsten and HMI. He is able to take certain liberty because he is shooting a still, and has a more powerful post proccess, but it is movie lighting, pure and simple.

  9. #9

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    I saw a doco on Crewdson recently & most of the suggestions in this thread are correct. His photos shoots are pretty much like a Hollywood film shoot - he hires plenty of technicians to set up the lights & other effects, e.g. wetting down the streets. Multiple 8 x 10 exposures are given to his digital post production house for final compositing. It was interesting to watch & see how he does things, but frankly it struck me as an awful lot of work for some pretty banal images.

  10. #10

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    @Nyarochrome100D: The link you provided is actually from a swiss website (as are all .ch sites). The Fotomuseum Winterthur had an exhibition on Crewdson a while ago. I really wanted to go but unfortunately forgot about it until now when I read your post...and now it's already ended :*(

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