Strobist kit 3

For some time now, accessories like the ones normally used for professional high-end flashes are manufactured and available for Storbist. Profoto, Bowens, Elinchrom and Broncolor – to mention a few brands – have in their catalogs a variety of accessories for modifying the light. Everything from diffusers, cones, ring flashes to reflectors for honeycombs, as well as light boxes, Fresnel lenses etc.

Some of these accessories are available for the use of portable flash and the efficiency is very good. Those that work best are the ones that concentrate the light, since the type of lighting they generate is hard. As we know, hard light is achieved with a small light source. To achieve a diffuse and soft lighting , the size of the light source should be big. If you have the possibility to use large size diffusers with the flashes, it will be necessary to have more than one flash to achieve a good diffusion, as we will se in my next post.

Strobist Snoot

Three flash adapter

Some brands have modifiers similar to those of professional range and other brands make more simple accessories that are easier to transport because of its ingenious design based on Velcro™.

Gadget Brando

The accessories from Gadget Brando or Interft Strobies work very well for medium shot portraits, as well as the range from Holn Photo or Lumiquest.
Holn Photo

Lumi Quest

One of my favorite accessories is the light box from Photofex, the OctoDome mini. I made almost all the portraits of the series “Friends” with this accessory. Its interior diffuser distributes the light very evenly and gives a good diffusion of the light in close-up portraits. It is also very easy to set up and transport.
Photoflex Octodome mini

I also like working with the Lightsphere Collapsible from Gary Fong. I normally use it very close to the camera. Directly directed towards the model, the size of the light source increases somewhat and it softens the glow. What I like about this accessory is to bounce the light in the ceiling without the hemisphere, as the contour of the fixture fills the shadows very well, as did the flashes that had two xenon lamps in the same flash, flashes like Nikon Speedlight SB16 or the Metz from the series 45 or 60 CL.

Nikon Speedlight SB16
Metz 45 CL4

This flash, like some Metz and others, allowed bouncing the main light in the ceiling or a sidewall and with a second fill flash decrease the contrast in the face. Today’s flashes do not have this second flash, and the accessory by Gary Fong solves this problem very well.

Lightsphere Collapsible by Gary Fong

Many times we might want to use correction filters like the ones by Rosco, Arri, Lee, etc. These filters will give a color cast to the light of the flash and they are very useful in certain situations which I will talk about in other posts.
Rosco Color Correction filter CTO

There are different brands that solve the problem of how to support the gelatin in front of the light source. Almost all of them rely on a Velcro™ strip fastening the gelatin holder.

Gel Holder

Strobist kit 3.pdf

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Beach or Studio ?

It was July in Barcelona and we could have gone to any beach to do the photo shoot for the cover of Clara for August. But for various reasons the photograph was done in the Hymsa / Edipresse studio. There you can have a complete control of the light, but the difficulty is almost always the same in the photos …They seem made in a studio!

Poetada Clara 167 © Marcelo Isarrualde Clara cover

Alexandra © Marcelo Isarrualde   Model : Alexandra

The idea was for the photo to look like it had been made on the beach and therefor the main light had to be like the sunlight on a sunny summer day, without clouds. Sunlight is very harsh unless it is filtered through a cloud or if it is a cloudy day. Outdoors, heaven helps lower the contrast of light produced by the sun and fills the shadows, but in the studio this contrast is higher and has to be carefully controlled.

As main light we used a Bowens 1500 W/s flash with a Maxilite reflector and the result was great. It was important that the main light was hard, and a flash with a standard reflector – as is the Maxilite – situated far from the model it becomes a small light source and generates a harsh illumination, without gloom, and is wide at the same time ..

Bowens Gemini Bowens Gemini with Maxilite reflector

Fresnel Lens

I could have used another more efficient type of accessory like a reflector with a Fresnel lens but it was being used in another set and hence I could not dispose of it.

Broncolor flooter

These accessories make the light beam of the flash look as the sun by using an optical element. This causes that the rays of light – instead of dispersing – are projected parallel.

Fresnel lens

The Shape of a parabola

I could also have used a parabolic dish like the reflectors from Broncolor such as the Satellite Evolution parabolic dish with a perfect parabolic curvature.

Broncolor Satellite Evolution Broncolor Satellite Evolution

It was only a matter of positioning the light in the right place and that way we would have a very direct and hard light. But we did not have this accessory in the studio!

Parábola © Marcelo Isarrualde  Hemisphere vs paraboloid

It would have been even better having one of the fantastic parabolic umbrellas from Briese, but the budget was limited and few studies in Spain have this fantastic German brand.

Briese 77  Briese 77

Because of their parabolic shape, these accessories allow that the distribution of the rays is parallel (in theory) and thus resembles the sun. I will speak about the Briese accessories in another post because it’s design is spectacular. The effect it produces is like the one of a Fresnel with a very spectacular light, and at the same time very enveloping.  Amazing and true!

Final take

Let us return to the studio to see how the illumination for the set was done. A Wafer Strip light box acted as secondary light to decrease the contrast caused by the direct light from the principal flash, and it was put at a rate of – 1.5 EV. The background was overexposed + 1 EV so that the blue gelatine in front of the flashes that were illuminating the background would burn it a bit. This was to decrease the saturation of the blue color so that the background color would seem more celestial, like the sky.

Lighting diagram © Marcelo Isarrualde  Lighting diagram

Beach or Studio.pdf

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Bream with tradition

Bream is a fish with delicate meat, traditionally eaten in many parts of Spain on Christmas Eve. It can be prepared in various ways and it is an oily fish with low content of fat, ideal for light meals.

Besugo © Marcelo Isarrualde Home economist Ana Torróntegui

The idea of this story was for all the recipes – all of traditional making- to have a very clear and clean graphic image, and at the same time give a subtle  impression of a festive Christmas Eve dinner.

Besugo © Marcelo Isarrualde

The prop was very white, and the glasses of wine – white as well – were accompanying the general mood of the shot very well . I wanted to accentuate the table, but make a close-up photo that made the attention go to the plate and not a wider and descriptive image that would take away the attention from the food.

Making of © Marcelo Isarrualde Hymsa/Edipresse Studios

The initial lighting scheme consisted of a Wafer light box from Bowens as a back light and two white frontal reflectors which decreased the overall contrast of the scene. A white background, distant and overexposed completed the set of lights.

Making of © Marcelo Isarrualde

The article is called ‘Bream with tradition’ and it was realized for the magazine ‘Lecturas Cocina‘. It consisted of 5 recipes, each one with particular ingredients. This generated different forms, volumes and shine in the different plates. For every photography some modification of the light was necessary. Not changing the initial scheme,  but complement the scene with other lights. In some cases we used a reflector with a honeycomb or a cone, in others a Fresnel, or both simultaneously.

Esquema de iluminación © Marcelo Isarrualde Lighting diagram

Bream with tradition.pdf

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Strobist kit 2

Off-camera flash

Strobist mode means, in most cases, that you remove the flash from the hot shoe of the camera. In English this is called “off-camera flash.” This allows us to place the light in the angle we find most convenient to model the appearance of a face or change a reflection when making a still life.

 Gemini Arm

In some situations we may want the flash to be positioned above the camera, but not in the hot shoe of the body of the camera.Then it is very useful to have what is called a Grip Head that allows you to put on, as an arm, any extension of the Manfrotto 1122, or arms such as Lastolite or Elinchrom.

Kupo Grip Head Kupo Grip Head

Manfrotto 1122 © Marcelo Isarrualde Manfrotto 1122

Avenger boom arm 001 © Marcelo Isarrualde Lastolite boom arm

The Manfrotto 1122 extension is very useful for situations where we need to extend the height range of our foot as  the Manfrotto 152 adapter can link it with rigidity.

Manfrotto 152 © Marcelo Isarrualde Manfrotto 152

Clamps and Clips

Sometimes it is not possible to place the foot of the flash where we want, or maybe we do not have another foot. A clamp as the Manfrotto 035 is perfect for catching from almost any place and through a pin-type Manfrotto 013 double-pass we can attach it to the universal umbrella head Manfrotto 026, or similar metal hinges.

Manfrotto 035 + 152 + 026 Manfrotto 035 + 013 + 026

Another very comfortable and versatile option is the magic arm with a Nano clamp.

Magic Arm with clamp © Marcelo Isarrualde   Magic Arm with Nano clamp

If the flash not is too heavy you can also use a Manfrotto clamp 175F or a similar one, that counts with a cold shoe for the flash to be placed directly on it.

Manfrotto 175F © Marcelo Isarrualde Manfrotto 175F

At times I have found myself in situations where I had to place a flash in the ceiling and there is no chance if it is a typical ceiling with gypsum modules. In these cases the ceiling clamps such as those that manufacture Arri or Kupo are great!

Kupo KD302012 Master © Marcelo Isarrualde Kupo KD302012 Master

If the flash is not very heavy you can place it in a suction clamp like Manfrotto 241 and place it on to glass or any nonporous surface.

Manfrotto 241 © Marcelo Isarrualde Manfrotto 241

Finally, if we have the invaluable help of an assistant, we can work with much more comfortable using an arm of the boom type from Elinchrom or improvise a more economical one using a bar that you can extend, like those used by painters, along with Kacey adapter.

Elinchrom Boom arm © Marcelo Isarrualde Elinchrom boom armKacey adapter © Marcelo Isarrualde Kacey adapter

Strobist kit 2.pdf

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Strobist Kit 1

The most important thing to have in mind when using Strobist should be the portability and the weight of this equipment in relation to the use and and the ability to move a studio equipment of flashes to a location. Another important aspect is that the technique used with Strobist is simple but effective.

Strobist

The portable electronics flashes are most suitable for this practice and there is a large variety of brands and benefits. The ideal is if they have plenty of power so they can to deal effectively with outdoors situations where there might be a lack of light, where it may be required that the ratio is 0 EV or sometimes + 1EV. In my case, I always use M (manual) and never TTL (thru the lens) and can there for acquire models that only work with manual, such as the flashes Yongnuo 560 of Chinese origin, which works very well.

Rechargeable batteries are essential to this practice and the best ones are the nickel-hydride metal batteries (Ni-MH). I use those of 2700 mAh and they work very well and they recharge within a reasonable  time. Obviously you will need chargers for these batteries and there are a large variety of models, with space for 4 or 8 batteries and with various charging times.

Strobist  My DIY Battery and PB820

The alternative to the rechargeable battery is to have batteries at one’s disposal. This way you can make more shots and maintain the recycle time for the flash. There are several models among which the batteries PB820 from Godox work very well. There is also the possible to make them oneself. I did two that work well, in addition to the two PB820 that I bought a while ago. I use the home made batteries with the Metz 32CT3 flashes and the ones from Godox with the  Yongnuo 560, the Canon 580EXII and Canon 430EX .

Strobist  Westcott umbrella

The alternative to the harsh light of direct flash can be an umbrella. By bounce the flash light into the umbrella or pass the light through a translucent umbrella you will increase the illuminated surface and hence  the light will be more diffuse and enveloping. The umbrella is fast and easy to carry in relation to other diffusion accessories such as the light boxes. The are many different brands and prices for the umbrellas. The bigger the umbrella is, the smoother the light will get.

Strobist  Manfrotto 026 + Hot Shoe Kaiser

You will need a ball head for the umbrella, for example the Manfrotto 026, and a foot with a synchronization cable PC, like the Kaiser 1301. Without any doubt I recommend a metal ball head and not one of plastic. That is why I think the Manfrotto ball head is the best option, although there are other manufacturers of metal bearings of this type.

Strobist  Kupo stands

The foot of the tripod is the thing that gives support to the set and should be very stable, especially when working outdoors where there may be windy. Although a model like the Manfrotto 001B is lightweight and convenient to carry, I prefer a more robust model, like the Bowens BW6610 or similar ones. Folded  it measures 86 cm and can reach a height of 3 meters. To give more stability to the set I always carry a couple of camping showers of 15 liters with me. Filled with water they allow me to replace the not so practical sandbags, perfect when you want to work with light equipment and laptops. Of course there must be a tap near the set!

Strobist

It is necessary to synchronize the flash with the camera. The cheapest alternative is to have a sync cable that unifies the flash shoe to PC connector of the camera. You can also use optical cells  like the Wein – which is perhaps the best on the market – if you shoot with one flash from the camera and synchronize the other flash units. You can also use infrared emitters and receivers, these options are good if you only work indoors.

Strobist Wein cells   Wein optical cells

But if you want to work outdoors in broad daylight you will need to have radio emitters and receivers. There is many types and prices, the high range coming from PocketWizard whose scope is unique and the reliability very high, just like the price.

Strobist PocketWizard

Finally, the great utility of having a set of color temperature correction gelatins like the CTO and CTB type should be highlighted, plus some  gels with color effect like the ones from Rosco, Gam or Lee.

Strobist Rosco gels

Up to here the basics, but there are many more accessories to complete a good Strobist kit. I will keep on explaining them.

Kit Strobist 1.pdf

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Friends

A couple of years ago I decided to do a series of portraits of my friends. Most of my friends that I have known for a long time live in Uruguay, and with them I ‘ve shared my childhood, adolescence and college years. Those I have met in Spain have emerged from different encounters in life during my twenty years living in Barcelona.

Strobist © Marcelo Isarrualde  Strobist © Marcelo Isarrualde  Strobist © Marcelo Isarrualde

“Friends” is linked to the idea of the pass of time and although it is not yet finished, you can see parts of it on my website.

My friends are very good people, funny, intelligent, creative, etc. Although I think that we all consider that our best friends are like that! Or not? Each one of them of course has its own personality, so the intention was to unify the work by the same visual treatment. One of the first friends that I photographed was “El Flaco Pérez”, my almost fetish friend as I explained in a previous post.

Strobist © Marcelo Isarrualde

The light should be very uniform and hardly generate any character. A flat lighting, smooth, soft, enveloping, (almost as “passport photo”) helped provide a low-contrast lighting that later could be contrasted in the post production.

Strobist © Marcelo Isarrualde © Alvaro Cabrera

The difficulties in moving heavy lighting equipment from Spain to Uruguay, or the same difficulty when I would have to make the photographs of my friends in Barcelona, in their homes or at their work places made me decide to do the sessions with a Strobist flash. In some cases I worked with a Metz 32 CT3 flash with a rechargeable battery or my DIY battery. I also did some sessions with a Yongnuo 560 flash with Godox Power Pack PB820 battery pack. I achieved the softness of the picture with a fantastic Photoflex light box, the mini OctoDome.

Note that we improvised each session with a white surface to fill the shadows. Sometimes we used architecture sketches, sometimes photo paper, tablecloths, etc. Well, what we had at hand in each house.

Strobist © Marcelo Isarrualde © Gonzalo Varela

Strobist © Marcelo Isarrualde  Lighting diagram

Friends.pdf

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Paparazzi

FHM magazine asked me me to do a series of portraits of Enric Bayon, a known Spanish paparazzi, and author of “I Paparazzi“. It was one of my first collaborations with the magazine, and they asked me to make photographs of a colleague! Enric cooperated very enthusiastically in the various photos that I made of him. The picture that I was most excited about was an homage to Weegee, pseudonym of the celebrated New York photographer Arthur Fellig, of Ukrainian origin.

Paparazzi Enric Bayón © Marcelo Isarrualde

Some months ago was the inauguration of the exhibition “Murder Is My Business” in
New York ICP. It contains much of Weegee’s intense work from the year 1935 to 1946, a work made primarily on the Lower East Side of New York. He worked with a large format camera, the Graflex Speed Graphic and a flash from the same brand, and almost always with f16 and 1/200. He developed the film in a makeshift laboratory in the back of his car, and from 1938 he was the only photographer allowed to have a portable short wavelength police radio in the city. During this period he focused on the photography in the street, crimes, especially the killings.

Weegee  Arthur FelligArthur Fellig

1946 he settled down in Los Angeles where he developed another type of photography related to the world of Hollywood. These photographs can be seen in his exhibition “Naked Hollywood” since November the 13th at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

Moca Weegee poster

The entertainment world and the use of simple lighting techniques led me to decide which type of photography that I would do of Enric Bayon. They should be funny, direct, simple, and why not parodic?

I remembered the portrait of Weegee with his Speed Graphic and did not hesitate to propose to take a similar picture of Enric. It should be urban, but against a wall that gave the impression of being in a dingy alley of any city in the world. It should also be made with a technique as simple as the one that Weegee used, and of course Enric should wear a suit and smoke a cigar.

I did not have the camera nor the flash. For years Graflex manufactured the mythical Speed Graphic and from 1947 they developed a lighter version, the Pacemaker Crown Graphic. I had bought the latest version manufactured between 1958 and 1973, the Super Graphic and now the flash was the only thing missing. CasanovaFoto Collection did very
kindly lend me the flash for the session!

Speed Graphic Pacemaker

The photograph was taken with two Canon flashes, 430 EX II, one directed towards the model and the other one from the right side with 1/4 EV of the main flash to reduce the contrast of the shadows.

I did not get the light bulbs for the Graflex flash to work and hence I did not have any other choice but to generate the flash in Photoshop.

Lighting diagram © Marcelo Isarrualde  Lighting diagram

Paparazzi.pdf

From South to North

I usually spend the Christmas holidays in the Southern Hemisphere, while I live in the Northern Hemisphere. Every year around this time I make a ‘Happy Holiday Photography’. This year I had a weird feeling. Crisis, early elections, unstable weather in both continents, the winter did not seem to be winter in the North and summer did not seem like summer in the South. So I made this picture from the inspiration of the times that we live in.

Merry Christmas © Marcelo Isarrualde  Merry Christmas © Marcelo Isarrualde

The hour of the realization of the photography was very important, as I wanted it to still be daylight but I also wanted the street lights to be lit. For a moment I tried with different locations in the neighborhood Raval in Barcelona, since the structure of the urban neighborhood is very diverse and full of passages.

© Marcelo Isarrualde

Because of the high amount of natural light the flash was too dominant and gave the environment an artificiality, but I liked it since it was not a typical ”Christmas look”.

I then tried a darker passage, which had an open window to a bar in it, and the result improved. In this case the illumination of the flash was direct and wide since I wanted to simulate the natural light of the passage itself that is seen in the upper right corner of the photo.

© Marcelo Isarrualde

I put a Yongnuo 560 flash on a monopod with a battery Godox Power Pack PB820. I put it from a lower point of view than the natural light of the passage for the illumination to be flatter and this way we can see the faces of our friends with more sharpness.

© Marcelo Isarrualde

Finally I did some more photographs of the street in the same passage but this time I decided to extend the surface of the light source for the illumination area to be larger, and at the same time be able to decrease the contrast a little.

© Marcelo Isarrualde

I did not want to increase the ISO too much, so I realized the photographs with tripod and very low speed.

Lighting diagram © Marcelo Isarrualde Lighting diagram

From South to North.pdf

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Head in a freezer

Some months ago I was in Montevideo, Uruguay, where I exhibited
my latest personal project – Love Rooms – and where I also did
workshops on the subject “strobist” techniques for two groups on the
occasion of the workshops organized for the Fotograma 2011, an
international photography encounter. Four practical classes and three
theoretical classes were realized, and during the first practical
practice this picture was made.

Head in a freezer © Marcelo isarrualde  Model Laura Martinelli

A friend of mine had got permission for me to work comfortably in an
abandoned spa facility, and in one of the corners inside this spa
center I saw an old fridge that inspired me to take a photo. The
natural light on the place was very good, but it came from behind of
the model.

Head in a freezer © Marcelo isarrualde

I decided to decrease the contrast with a translucent umbrella, from
the left of the camera and in this way balance the ratios of light to
Ratio 0.

Head in a freezer © Marcelo isarrualde

I opened the fridge and decided to take a picture where the model took
something out from it or looked if there was something inside of it.
That was when I realized how dirty the environment was and how worn
out the fridge was… You could only find something strange in there!

Head in a freezer © Marcelo isarrualde

I liked the result. For the light in the refrigerator to be the main
lighting of the scene I decided to underexpose the ambient light -2
EV. The light of the refrigerator lacked of character, which I gave it
by placing a green gelatin on the flash that I had put inside of the
fridge. In this way the color would emphasize the morbid theme.

Head in a freezer © Marcelo isarrualde

Head in a freezer © Marcelo isarrualde

Finally, the wall in the background needed another tone and therefor I
decided to use a second flash, a Yongnuo 560, with blue gelatin from
Rosco. The interesting thing with the result was to see on the screen
of the camera, once the photo was made, how the picture had changed
from what we had seen before the flashes were fired off and before we
underexposed the atmosphere.

Head in a freezer © Marcelo isarrualde

Lighting diagram © Marcelo Isarrualde  Lighting diagram

Head in a freezer.pdf