13 April 2013

Trying to get that Game of Thrones Season 3 poster look...

Update: Made a second attempt where the blue was added in post-processing: http://www.cameralance.com/2013/05/second-attempt-on-got-poster-look.html

Like a lot of people, I'm another fan of the TV series and as well as the books! I just like how the author develops each characters, from weak to strong or from up high status and sink down low bottom. And also surprisingly unexpected twists... Not gonna put any spoilers here so you guys have to find out what happens. Hats off to the author George R.R. Martin for awesome writing.

So a couple of weeks ago before the release of the third season TV series, Melbourne CBD was filled with their posters, like literally everywhere. I couldn't help to wonder how did the photographer did it. Wondering about it is not gonna get me anywhere so I had to experiment it. This is just a lighting experiment I thought about in theory, not what the guy actually did.

Analysing the poster

Personally I think the whole story is about the uniqueness of the each characters. The tight crop on the actors and actresses faces emphasizes it. The eye-catchy cold and warm colour tone on each side of the face represents the book series - A Song of Ice and Fire. At first glance, it could be split lighting but the lighting technique is half light half shadow. We can see details on the other side of the face, its not completely dark. The shadow under the nose and as well as the catch light in the eyes suggest light from above, top right of camera. I'm thinking could be two light sources - one to light the whole face while the other for the colour.

What I did

I have only a softbox and a borrowed umbrella at my disposal so in terms of making the harsh narrow lighting quality, I'm quite limited. Just have to make do with what I have. I also used Canon EF 100mm f/2.8(non-L version) macro lens to get the super closed tight crop look. One of the biggest reason why I bought this lens instead of the 85mm 1.8

Here's my lighting setup

The circle is obviously my subject. Sofbox on camera right, feathering the light away from the subject. Umbrella is right in front of subject, above camera, tilted down.

One of the ways to get blue in camera is matter of playing around with white balance and colour gels, a trick I learnt from Joe McNally quite a few years ago. Most of the things I know about location shoots with lightings I learnt from him so if you're interested, checkout his books. I recommend Hotshoe Diaries. Nowadays I have seen a lot of wedding photographers do this especially those couple portraits at the beach after the sunset so it has became a common trick. The trick is (1) put a warm/orange colour gel on your flash/light source (2) set white balance to a really cold/low setting like Tungsten. What happens is that the warm light from flash will become normal temperature colour while everything else becomes deep blue thanks to the white balance.

And so I place orange colour gels on my speedlite in the softbox and set white balance to 2500K. Here's the result

And of course I wanted to have photo of myself as well  =D

Yeap, big difference comparing to the actual poster. Now that I look at the poster again and study it carefully, it could be just one light source with a harsh light modifier like a grid spot for an example and placed up high above of subject while the blue is added later in photoshop...

Oh well, at least I tried rather than keep on wondering. You are welcome to give it a try as well. And if you do, here's where I downloaded the font type.

Thanks for reading!


  1. It's photoshop ;)
    Look what I did: http://i40.tinypic.com/1zgxhy0.jpg
    It looks great though ;)

  2. Yup, made another attempt on this with photoshop - http://www.cameralance.com/2013/05/second-attempt-on-got-poster-look.html

    Thanks for the comments!



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