Flash on the beach

In clear summer days, sun projects high-contrast light that does not help shooting pictures on swimming costumes, like in this post. Then, what do we call high contrast when we talk about lighting?

Sunlight is a high contrast light source that comes into contact with the earth from just one point, casting intense and defined shadows. Because of it’s distance from our planet, its rays reach the surface of the earth in parallel.

Flash on the beach © Marcelo Isarrualde  Modelo Gemma Cadenas

High light contrast can be easily noticed in a shadow’s outline. When this is harsh, and depending on the light incidence angle, it can enhance unwanted skin textures for this kind of assignments.

To lower the contrast, light needs to be more diffuse, coming from different angles or its source has to be bigger than the object that we want to light up. For this reason in cloudy days light is more diffuse …but we wouldn’t see our nice blue sky!

Flash on the beach © Marcelo Isarrualde

I placed a translucent umbrella between the sun and our model to increase the diffusion surface. However by using the umbrella as the only main light, we lost light intensity and resulted in a low contrast situation. Therefore, to correctly expose for the skin and the swimming costume, we had to overexpose but then the blue of the sky looked faded.

Flash on the beach © Marcelo Isarrualde  Flash on the beach © Marcelo Isarrualde

Flash on the beach © Marcelo Isarrualde

As noticed in the previous photograph, I used an umbrella to increase the size of the light source and to better control the flash light intensity. By doing this we gained more incidence angles on our model, less contrast and more control over light intensity.

Flash on the beach © Marcelo Isarrualde  Flash on the beach © Marcelo Isarrualde

Another advantage of having lowered the flash light intensity by using the umbrella is that we could also apply a ¼ CTO (orange color temperature) gelatin. It gave a warm look to the model skin but did not affect the sky color.

Flash on the beach © Marcelo Isarrualde

And the sun began to set….

When the sun was setting, we had the opposite problem and now we had a low contrast situation because the sky barely illuminated our set.

Flash on the beach © Marcelo Isarrualde

Now in this example we wanted to increase the contrast and to add slight warm color dominance. We moved the umbrella further away from the model to make our light source “smaller” and consequently gaining contrast. This time we used another correction gelatin ½ CTO. Easy!

Flash on the beach © Marcelo Isarrualde

The flash utilized in these take was a Metz 32 CT3 of the 80´s and one of my DIY batteries.

Lighting diagram © Marcelo Isarrualde  Lighting diagram

Flash on the beach.pdf

Love Rooms

Status

My first exhibition, Fotografías Heterogéneas (1986), marked with its
name the diversity of the themes and technics that I since then have
been developing. But most of all it represented the multiplicity of
interests and obsessions associated with my youth.

Intermittently my work has been linked to childhood, to the world of
games, and the idea of space or place. Two of my latest projects,
Stiletto and Love Rooms, are linked to the idea of photography as a
part of the construction of sex. I like the paraphernalia that enacts
the fantastic conception of sexuality, where the circumstances of the
real are on the border to the surreal, where reality and fantasy both
are formed by subjective assessments of one single object of desire.

The Stiletto series is developed on the idea of looking, centered on
the desire, exhibitionism, and is linked to that place where the
pursuit of pleasure sometimes only can be achieved by the eye.

Love Rooms is a series about the spaces representing the erotic play
in the world. Scenes from Montevideo have been used as areas of
reminiscences of other places, utopian and desired territories.

Marcelo Isarrualde

Barcelona, agosto de 2011.

Colección Engelman Ost

November 21 to December 9, 2011.

Nave espacial © Marcelo Isarrualde

Love © Marcelo Isarrualde

La Selva © Marcelo Isarrualde

Picapiedras © Marcelo Isarrualde

Moulin Rouge © Marcelo Isarrualde

Mondrian © Marcelo Isarrualde

Gladiator © Marcelo Isarrualde

Strobist Workshop

For more than 20 years I have given classes and workshops on the subject of photography. I started in Uruguay, giving basic classes together with my great friend Guillermo Robles, and after a year in New York where I during a short time of period worked in the ICP, I settled in Barcelona.

I have been teaching photojournalism, architectural photography, history of photography, author development projects, and in recent years, I have given various lighting courses, from a basic to a professional level.

Some months ago I traveled to Uruguay since the CMDF very generously invited me to exhibit my latest personal project during the festival Fotograma 2011, and also to provide a technical workshop on Strobist in Montevideo. That is the place where I started my first classes and I was very excited to go back – even for a few days – and contribute with some of my experience.

In this post there are no PDF-schemes … but soon I will share the sessions that I will do there!

Strobist technique © Marcelo Isarrualde  Model: Gemma Cadenas

Strobist © Marcelo Isarrualde

Dino or “Flaco” Pérez ?

Dino © Marcelo Isarrualde

Dino or “Flaco” Pérez ?

You will see Flaco Pérez in this blog quite often whereas Dino, I don’t think so. Álvaro is a great friend of mine who is always ready to take part in all my photo experiments. You will remember him from the post “Crisis? What Crisis?“. And today he has got a role in this one, too. He’s becoming my “muse”.
We had decided to drive to the Sant Adriá del Besós beach when suddenly on the way, we saw Dino. We got off the Vespa and discovered there was an exhibition on dinosaurs. There was a strong contrast between the ambience under the marquee and the midday sun in a clear day. Dino’s picture was taken with a Canon G9 ISO 80, 1/320 and f8.

Dino © Marcelo Isarrualde Dino at Barcelona

I tried my DIY battery that I had just built and took a quick picture of my friend. There were a lot people waiting to get in the exhibition and only had time just for three shoots.

"Flaco" Perez on Capture One Pro © Marcelo Isarrualde  “Flaco” Perez on Capture One Pro

I wanted to focus the attention on my friend despite having Dino’s presence in the background. Therefore I underexposed the background to -1EV and shoot Flaco’s portrait with a Metz 32 CT3 to balance the difference in light between the ambience under the marquee and outside it. The portrait was finally taken at 1/640, f8. The flash was shoot with Pocket Wizard and the little Canon G9 synchronized very well at a high speed. Even compared to my Canon Mark III that synchronized only till 1/250 the G9 was able to reach 1/2500 !
After the takes, I used Capture One Pro to gain back some details in the dark areas of the blue curtain as well as of my friend’s face.

"Flaco" Perez © Marcelo Isarrualde “Flaco” Perez

Lighting diagram © Marcelo Isarrualde  Lighting diagram

Dino or “Flaco” Perez.pdf

Stiletto, a personal project

Some years ago the Belgian editorial Tectum, that had seen my work in the book “Nudes Index I”, edited by Könemann, invited me to take part in the nude pictures yearbook “Nude Bible”.

Polly Fey for Stiletto © Marcelo Isarrualde Polly Fey for Stiletto

I chose to contribute to it with a more extensive project on the object paraphernalia involved in some erotic and sexual practices. Till the date all my personal projects had been inspired on my childhood and this was my first approach to an “adult” subject. One of the references that immediately came to my mind was the fantastic work of Helmut Newton, who had been my idol in my early youth. Also he work of Jean Loup Sieff, Guy Bourdin or Bettina Rheims, among others, has always been a great influence in my photography. Finally I decided to pay tribute David Lynch and his emblematic TV series Twin Peaks.

In that TV serie there was one episode that really caught my attention. It was in the third episode from the first season called “Cooper’s Dream“. In the program the policeman Dale Cooper dreams about the assassinated girl called Laura Palmer, and a dwarf, The Man from Another Place. Everything really seemed to be “from Another Place” and the scenery was the beginning of my personal serie “Stiletto“.

Twin Peaks  Twin Peaks

Same way music is an important element in Lynch’s work, Laurie Anderson song “Born, never asked”, which talks about an enigmatic curtain, was my inspiration for this series of pictures.

Making of Stiletto © Marcelo Isarrualde Making of Stiletto serie

But let’s go back to the lighting! Because my budget was limited and could not afford red velvet for my set, I used a very thin grey fabric, in which I projected red light. I did the same on the floor that had been painted in white, black and grey. To avoid loosing the red hue dominant, we directed the main 5500º Kelvin white light only to the model.

Floor drawing © Marcelo Isarrualde

Painting the floor © Marcelo Isarrualde

Set for Stiletto serie © Marcelo Isarrualde

The main light source was a 1000 w/s Bowens flash and for the background there were three 1500w/s Bowens flashes with red gelatins hanging from the ceiling. They were used at their maximum power since red gelatin absorbs more than +1 EV.
In the wider shoots it could be noticed that the red light projected on the floor looked faded because of the incidence of the main light. This had to be later retouched with Photoshop. This though wouldn’t be a problem because we had been using a Hasselblad with Imacom digital back.

Making of Stiletto serie © Marcelo Isarrualde

Lighting diagram © Marcelo Isarrualde  Lighting diagram

Stiletto, a personal project.pdf

Gobos, spots and fulgurators

In the previous post I explained how, from a technical point of view, the Image Fulgurator had the same function as a spot light, like Zoom Spot 18-135 or a Mini Spot Lite, both from Elinchrom.

Elinchrom Zoom Spot 18-135

Elinchrom Mini spot lite Elinchrom Mini spot lite

DIY Image Fulgurator © Marcelo Isarrualde DIY Image Fulgurator

The special features of these accessories is that they have an optical part – lens or condenser – that allows that image located between a strobe and the optical part, to be projected in a background. These metallic parts that can be put between the light and the optic, are called Gobos (Goes Before Optics). There is quite a large variety of options that can emulate venetian blinds, foliage, and stars, among others.

Gobos

On one occasion I used them on a photo shoot for Clara magazine. It consisted of making a cover on Araceli Segarra, followed by an illustrated article that could be the first of a series of covers, dedicated to prominent women in different professional areas.
The ambience on the set shouldn’t have to have too many elements because any of the pictures could be considered a possible cover. There had to be enough empty space to allow for text and headlines.

Araceli Segarra © Marcelo Isarrualde

It had to look like it was a wide space with natural light. To achieve this, we used a Wafer big softbox with a Bowens 1500 strobe and the contrast was decreased with three big expanded polystyrene reflectors (Porexpan®, Telgopor®, Styrofoam®, Frigolit®, etc). A big white umbrella was set above the camera, exposed at -1 ½ EV below Wafer softbox power, to light up Araceli. Finally, an Elinchrom Zoom Spot 18-135 adapted to a Bowens’s bayonet was used together with another Bowens torch at 1500 W/s. A gobo with the image of a venetian blind was placed on to the spot light.

Lighting diagram © Marcelo Isarrualde Lighting diagram

The shot was taken with a Kodak slide film EPP100. In the analogical world a correct exposure and the power ratio correspondence between the strobes ,was key because of the little latitude margin of the slide film, (error margin in the exposure). But also nowadays it is very important a correct exposure in order to the make the most of our raw files.

Araceli Segarra © Marcelo Isarrualde Making of

Gobos, spots and fulgurators.pdf

Image Fulgurator

A couple of years ago, german artist Julius Von Bismarck came to Barcelona to give a lecture at CCCB. He is the inventor of a device called Image Fulgurator, that is an analogical camera that has been turned into a flash by means of a lens. With the Image Fulgurator, Von Bismark is able to project any image on any surface, hence his flash is triggered when there is another camera with flash nearby.

Julius Von Bismarck © Julius Von Bismarck

The film has been replaced by a laser drilled, metallic sheet and through a sensor placed in the camera mount, the flash of the Image fulgurator is triggered by other cameras in the vicinity. Quoting the author , Image Fulgurator is “a device for physically manipulating photographs. It intervenes when a photo is being taken, without the photographer being able to detect anything. The manipulating is only visible on the photo afterwards”.

Fulgurator 2008 © Julius Von Bismarck

In theory it can be used at any time as long as there is another camera nearby using a flash. It projects an image on any surface at the exact same time that the other camera is taking a picture. This action takes only a few milliseconds and the image can “slip in” in other people’s photographs.

Fulgurator 2008 © Julius Von Bismarck

Von Bismark performs interventions with Image Fulgurator in events with important media coverage or in world emblematic locations. Like when he projected the dove of Magritte’s painting “L’Homme au Chapeau Melon” on the Mao Zedong portrait at the Tiananmen square. He also “fulgurated” pictures taken from pilgrims during Pope Benedict XXVI visit to Madrid, in collaboration with spanish artist Santiago Sierra. The latter had been awarded with the national arts prize Spain Fine Arts National Prize in 2010, but rejected it since, in his own words, he considered himself to be a “a serious artist“.

Fulgurator Mao © Julius Von Bismarck

No projection © Julius Von Bismarck

Photography, art or technic?

Photography is a mechanic art since it’s possible thanks to a “machine”, the camera, which we must know how to use. From it’s own etymology, photography means also writing with light. In the hands of an artist, that light will produce an art work or would be the means to an end in other applications.
Since this is a blog on lighting techniques, I thought it was appropriate to talk about the Von Bismark work and his conceptual discourse,, which personally like. But, would it be necessary to take abeautiful Minolta camera to pieces to get our own DIY Image Fulgurator?

Marcelo Isarrualde

A Fulgurator is in fact a slide projector with a flash light, instead of a continuos light. Dismantling the back cover of an analogical camera, and placing a slide where the film normally should go, you can make your own one. Another option is to use a box with similar characteristics, taking care of putting the lens bayonet at the exact same distance between the optical focal plane and the camera bayonet fitting. I wouldn’t have destroyed my beloved Nikon FM and F2A for this! Instead I put two slide boxes together with a Nikkor lens back cover.

Marcelo Isarrualde

Marcelo Isarrualde

Marcelo Isarrualde

This simple little box can project images on studio backgrounds the same way other devices like an Elinchrom Zoom Spot does with the gobos. But in a way more affordable way!

Marcelo Isarrualde © Marcelo Isarrualde

Marcelo Isarrualde © Marcelo Isarrualde

Image Fulgurator.pdf

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

Clara Magazine cover assignment

This assignment was for a feature on beauty and health, and it was shot by the pool of the Majestic Hotel in Barcelona. One of the pictures was to be considered a possible cover for the magazine.The covers for Clara Magazine are characteristically very clean looking, usually with a white background and wide framing to allow for text and headlines to be included.The story headline texts of most women’s magazines have to be on the cover, which unfortunately detracts from the picture.

We have to take into account that each magazine is a product addressed to a very specific public and therefore every cover has to fulfill all the requirements set by the management department. But I guess that every photographer’s dream is a less crowded cover, like Harper’s Bazaar or V.

Clara magazine  © Marcelo Isarrualde  Harper's Bazzar magazine © Marcelo Isarrualde

Back again to our assignment – the difficulty in it was finding a white wall with enough available space to work comfortably. In addition, this cover had to be brighter than usual because it was summertime and it had to deliver a fresh look.
I found the perfect place on the last floor of the hotel and luckily there was a white sofa that I could use. We just had to move the furniture a little and shoot the cover.

© Marcelo Isarrualde  Cover Clara magazine © Marcelo Isarrualde

Lighting

Clara covers are usually shot with a neutral, low-contrast light that is neither too hard nor directional; which tends to be more natural.
To achieve this effect I used a couple of Wafer 100 light boxes with Bowens flashes of 1500 w/s plus a silver/white Lastolite reflector. However, on the left of the set one can notice a Window and a zenithal skylight. They have not interfered with the lighting since its light power is lower than that of the flashes.

Making of © Marcelo Isarrualde

The light box directed to the background wall, overexposes the surface and bounces off to the model reaching her hair slightly above the main light. The shots have later been exposed to 1/2 EV again above the main light to slightly “clean” the skin. This shoot was done with film and the exposure error margin in the slide EPP was critical.
I took a couple of Polaroid pictures to be sure that the light was under control.
Nowadays with digital sensors and histogram readings everything has changed. There is much less need to use a light meter! I am not sure that this is a good thing.
Lighting diagram © Marcelo Isarrualde Lighting diagram

Once the cover was done, I shot the photos on beauty and health using natural light and reflectors (and a less prominent flash)

Model : Janna / Agency : Colors

Clara magazine © Marcelo Isarrualde  Clara magazine © Marcelo Isarrualde

Clara magazine © Marcelo Isarrualde  Clara magazine © Marcelo Isarrualde

Clara magazine © Marcelo Isarrualde

Clara magazine cover.pdf

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

 

Not everything is light or Photoshop

Last year in December, I decided to make a Christmas card with a vintage look, in which also the city of Barcelona could be recognized. After giving it quite some thought, I took a picture of the city’s amusement park, at the mountain of Tibidabo…adding to the composition a tin Santa Claus!

Santa at Tibidabo © Marcelo Isarrualde

Amusement parks are a recurrent subject in my author’s work, around which I have two series of photographs.The first one, entitled “Rodó Park”, deals with a fairground where I used to go when I was a child. A few years later went back to the same place to take the series “Bismarck, el Hombre Araña uruguayo“. For years I have been a keen collector of “tin toys” and thought that a tin Santa could look cool, as if it was another attraction in the park. I browsed in internet and found the perfect one. Once I had it, headed to Tibidabo to take the shoots.

I wanted to work with natural light and waited till dusk to get long shadows with a reddish hue that I needed. To take this picture it was key to match up the perspective in both captures in order to make the photomontage easier for the retouchers.

Tibidabo Park  © Marcelo Isarrualde   Santa at Tibidabo Park © Marcelo Isarrualde

Finally, I wanted the picture to have a selective blur that would give it a rather unusual look. Because I didn’t want to leave it to be worked at post-production, I thought I would use a tilt&shift or perspective control lens. But, I didn’t have any, so I decide to build it myself!

I tried with different old lenses that I have at home. The best one was an old, but excellent Componon 1:5,6/80 enlarger lens. It’s medium format ring wouldn’t cause vignetting in a 35mm full frame sensor.

The final project © Marcelo Isarrualde

It was time to think on how to make a bellows like the one in optical bench cameras. I looked for it at Aironfix™, ConTact™, (I don’t know the name of their equivalents in every country). The most difficult was to wait until the different Canon adapter threads and bayonets arrived from Hong Kong!

Parts © Marcelo Isarrualde

Parts © Marcelo Isarrualde

Final project © Marcelo Isarrualde

Final project © Marcelo Isarrualde

Neither Light nor Photoshop.pdf

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

Emerging

It was the last day of the summer, and with it many people’s holidays would have now come to an end. I wanted to take a fun picture to remember the good times we have had, and also to remind that it was time to go back to our routines, early general elections and the crisis.

Would we swim or sink?

Swim or sink © Marcelo Isarrualde

Technically it was a very easy picture to take. We just had to wait until the sun didn’t shine the beach directly. But we couldn’t wait too long because otherwise the reflection of the sky in the sea would become darker. At that time of the year the best moment had to be around 6 pm.

I used a portable flash Canon 580 EX II with a diffuser Gary Fong Light sphere Collapsible as I needed enough power to be at least + 1 EV above the ambience light and to project subtle strike of light onto the face of our diver. To avoid reflections on the glass of the googles and to better see the face, I stand in front our model. And as electrical power source, I used my DIY battery!

Despite the fantastic colour of the sea, I wanted to add it a slight blue shade cast with a warm touch to make our diver look tanned, as if he had spent the whole summer at the beach.

I could have left the colour treatment for the post-production, but why not kill two birds with one stone and save time?

Sometimes thinking analogical can be very practical! I put over the flash a colour correction gel of ½ (orange colour temperature), that gave the skin the warm orange colour shade that we wanted. The colour was later balanced with the RAW development, while the rest of the scene still kept a blue shade. Finally a greenish-blue touch was also added.

Making of © Marcelo Isarrualde

Lighting diagram © Marcelo Isarrualde  Lighting diagram

Emerging.pdf

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