Reverse-Engineering The Work of a Master: Creating A Portrait In The Style Of Dan Winters just released this behind-the-scenes video which shows how to light, shoot, and process a shot in the style of Dan Winters. By reverse-engineering the light and color that Winters uses (and using a little Photoshop magic), you'll be able to replicate one of his most well-known shots of actor Tom Hanks. I don't know about everyone else, but whenever I look through a magazine, I guess at the lighting setups and processing choices of nearly every photo I see. If you're like me, you'll probably learn a thing or two by watching this video, and maybe be inspired to reverse-engineer a favorite shot of your own.

via phlearn

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I really like it.
Thank you!

Jorge Moro's picture

That's just wrong.  


Von Wong's picture

neat learned something! 

Michael Ericsson's picture

Or just shoot portra

Kevin's picture

Dan Winters's portrait of Tom Hanks was the topic of a discussion thread on a while back.  After many readers' attempts at re-constructing the lighting for this particular photo, one reader, John Adkins II, decided to email Dan Winters directly.  He received a response from Dan and posted it in the thread.  You'll have to scroll down quite a bit.

I suppose all you have to do sometimes is ask!

I like the channels tip for brining back specularity. That's handy to know.

Wouah I need to progress at Photoshop

Brian Powell's picture

The light on your subject's face isn't really even close -- maybe in direction, but not in falloff/quality. Even after all the processing, look at the shadow from the nose. He is lighting the face with two lights, one hard and one soft, but flagging the soft light from the lapel area. That's why Dan is the master -- opening up the shadows with light and getting it nearly perfect in-camera first.   There are some things you just can't do in PS later!

If you look at the direction of the lapel shadows, you can see his lights are set up farther to Tom's side than your diagram shows.  Farther away from the camera.   It would be impossible to get that lapel shadow with lights setup at a 45 degree orientation to Tom.  His lights are set up a touch higher as well, if you see the bottom of the shadow of the nose (hard light shadow).  His is exactly even with the bottom of Tom's nose and yours starts to raise a bit higher.    (You can also notice this by comparing that angles your chin shadow to Tom's lapel shadow - same source).   Like Joe McNally says, it's a game of inches  :)Another thing that makes his portraits pop is the focus of the BG light.   That is something you can try to enhance later (burning in the vignette), but I bet Dan gets the BG light focused pretty well in camera. Other details like body positioning and gaze direction are open for interpretation, but if you're trying to replicate a shot -- I would pay attention to those as well.Props for trying to replicate a master though!  That's what I love about photography; when so many factors and variables are involved, it's ethereal, and often cannot possibly replicated.   Truly a moment in time.