"Most likely it was taken with a medium-format camera using a 150mm
telephoto lens (equivalent to 100mm on a 35mm camera) and a big ringflash,
perhaps Norman. As I understand it, for some reason, this setup is almost a
standard for certain kinds of fashion shot; I don't know why, but guess that
it shows the fabric of her clothes better. It's actually a very hard light
compared to an umbrella or a softbox."
Didn't know Norman made one, but several of the European manufacturers make
a setup for this use. Generally, it's a reflector where a standard head in
attached (one of the reasons pro strobes have enterchangable reflectors, and
why they are rated in WS). It is not like a standard ring flash for a 35mm
or MF camera, but more like the T8, a wonderful but woefully underpowered
product. The light is not as soft as a softbox, but much softer than
something like a T10.
It's used not for the effect on fabric, but the effect on the model's face,
combined with overexposure. It gives an almost two dimensional look (an
exact representation of the model's personality?), and blows out all detail
in the skin, including wirnkles, freckles, zits, and the evidence of last
night's drug binge. It's an effect, that goes with a particular style of
fashion photography. Like any other style of fashion photography, it will
soon be out of style, and those of us that have other uses for this product
will be able to get one cheap.
Remember, fashion photography is no longer about showing the product. That's
for the Sears catalog. Fashion photography is all about convincing the
consumer what she will look like and the life she shall lead, if she only
buys that one dress, or pair of shoes, or whatever. They're in the business
of selling the ability to fulfil fantasy, and there's no Consumer's Report
to hold them to it.
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