Za vashe zdorovye !

I worked as a Photography Director for seven years at the publishing house Hymsa/Edipresse, that later merged together with RBA group. They published fifteen different magazines and therefore the assignments could cover a wide range of topics; fashion, still life or interior design. I will go through all of them to explain you how they were made.

Za vashe zdorovye! This how to drink a toast in Russia. Today I will talk about how I took this picture that had to illustrate an article on Vodka for the food magazine “Comer y Beber”.


Despite the small size of the picture, it would occupy a prominent place in the article. Considering the target audience, the editorial staff of the magazine wanted a less descriptive picture and wanted a more abstract but suggestive one instead. The bottle and its brand had to be clearly seen, but there shouldn’t be any association to any cocktail made with vodka. The image layout had to be vertical. 

Food magazine © Marcelo Isarrualde

Vodka © Marcelo Isarrualde

Observations y conclusions

The verticality of the lines and shapes of the elements in the picture would help to accomplish the requested layout. First we placed transparent glasses but the attention easily shifted to the blurred bottles in the background and we did not want this to happen.

Both, the glasses and the bottles, were colorless and only their labels would stand out, specially the red one because of its size and color . We decided to put this bottle behind the one with the blue label so that it would be further away from the camera and look smaller. Finally we chose red glasses that would provide visual balance to the red label and detract from the cocktails importance by only revealing a couple of olives. We leaned the camera slightly to give the take a touch of dynamism and informality. Thanks to this idea the glass in the foreground would slightly overlap the bottles avoiding an explicit and direct identification of both vodka brands, but allowing to recognize them at the same time.

For the background and the base we used corrugated metallic plates to achieve a neutral look that wouldn’t taint the liquid, but that would also bring out the transparent quality of the elements thanks to the reflections of their surface. 

Making of Vodka picture © Marcelo Isarrualde

Making of Vodka picture © Marcelo Isarrualde

Making of Vodka picture © Marcelo Isarrualde


Basically we used three different light sources: a combination of backlights to enhance the transparency of all the elements, secondary lights to make the label stand out more and an effect light for the background.

With a honeycomb grid reflector, we achieved a wide backlight that covered all the elements in the picture. In order to decrease the saturation of the color of the main glass, we projected on it a more intense backlight (+ 1 EV) from a Fresnel source. The black flags placed on the sides limited the amount of the said light to the glass, enhancing its outline . We reduced the contrast of the olives by putting a Wafer Strip on one side and by using a diffuser that diminished the reflection in the glass. With two foam core boards we reflected upon the bottles the light coming from the Wafer Strip and the backlight spots, to see the their labels better. Finally, with a cone shape reflector, we emitted a diffuse ring in the background metallic plate , (without overexposing), to make the glass stand out more.

The Hasselblad digital back allowed us to have an immediate preview of the take. To balance its color we used a Gretag Macbeth color chart.

Lighting diagram © Marcelo Isarrualde Lighting diagram


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It is forbidden the use partial or global of this website unless authors written permission.


Crisis ? What crisis ?

The world is in crisis due to uncontrolled credits granted by banks. Nothing new under the sun with this regard those who come from Latin America. But now the crisis is also affecting the “less” Latin America, Europe and Spain. This is why I wanted to pay tribute to the crisis -by way of “exorcism” – reinterpreting that fantastic cover of Supertramp album “Crisis, what crisis?”.


I spend my Summers in Barcelona, – because I have holidays at the end of the year- and I go quite often to the Sant Adria del Besós beach from where it’s coal-fired power station can be seen. I find it a fascinating place which I wanted to capture in my “remake” of the cover . Also with this remake of the album cover my intention was to minimize the trascedence of the crisis and having some fun at the same time. It is interesting to think that just a year ago I had photographed Santiago Niño Becerra for Gentleman magazine for an article in which he had already predicted the crisis…

The picture was shot with natural Light reducing it’s contrast with a external camera flash at -1/ 2 EV. The color of the skin was later destaurated and the overall contrast of the scene was increased. These retouches were subtle but very effective.

Lighting diagram © Marcelo Isarrualde Lighting diagram

Double take

When Alejandro Castellote saw the picture published, he pointed out its resemblence with one of the photographer Marcos López, that I had not seen yet. I know and admire his work and even had the chance to met him briefly in the photographic syposium Tercer Colquio Latinamericano de Fotografía de Caracas .

Having had taken the picture in a similar style to the one of Marcos Lopez without actually knowing it, made me think of “Double Take” by Richard Whelan, a fantastic book that my good friend and ex business partner Guille Robles gave me. It deals with reasonable likeness in general the same way Pedro Arroyo does with his reasonable discoveries.


All rights reserved. © Isarrualde Photography
It is forbidden the use partial or global of this website unless authors written permission.


Catwoman visits Barcelona

Some weeks ago I took this picture of Marta wearing her self made Catwoman suit that would be included in her photo book as well as in my personal portfolio. This was a good opportunity to use my DIY battery for the first time. To have more battery life I also had with me a Travel Pack of Bowens for the Gemini 750W/s flashes. My DIY responded so well during this photo shoot that I have decided to make another one. Bowens Gemini de 750 W/s con su Travel Pack.

At this time of year, the best hour for taking this picture was at 21.10hrs. Ten minutes earlier Agbar Tower would have turn on its lights. So I had 15 minutes before the sky would loose the blue shade that we needed for Catwomans suit to stand out of the sky.

We started with the preparation of set at 20.30 and still had enough time to coordinate the power relation between the main and the background lights.  For the main one I worked with a Bowens flash, with a Photek brolly umbrella and with a Metz 32 CT3 with Bowens traslucid umbrella, for the effect light.

  Lighting diagram

Setting the meter at ISO400 and f8 for the ambient light, we needed an aperture speed of ¼; the main light was then exposed at f8 and the effect one at f11.

Lighting diagram © Marcelo Isarrualde Lighting diagram

All rights reserved. © Isarrualde Photography.It is forbidden the use partial or global of this website unless authors written permission.