© Annie Leibovitz
Related to this last post, the subtle, smooth and near shadowless lighting style of the likes of Annie Leibovitz is called the Sfumato, a technique believed to be pioneered and popularized by Leonardo da Vinci, who began to practice it consistently on his late-career paintings, perfected it on his masterpiece, the Mona Lisa:
The most prominent practitioner of sfumato was Leonardo da Vinci, and his famous painting of the Mona Lisa exhibits all the advantages of the technique. The historical value of this painting consists precisely in the subtle but accurate way in which emotions are expressed. This expression is due in no small part to the gentle shading that sfumato promotes. Leonardo da Vinci described sfumato as “without lines or borders, in the manner of smoke or beyond the focus plane.”
While it’s relatively easy to achieve the affect in modern studio photography, it is a different story for capturing the life in it, photographers like Annie is masterful at achieving them consistently, but that too, comes after decades of practice and a skillful digital retoucher.