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

 

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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It is forbidden the use partial or global of this webside unless author written permission.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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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

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

Real “vintage”

My first soft box was “homemade” with satin white card, cutted off in a trapezoid shape. The edges were folded and glued on two wooden frames jointed together with clapboards. An aluminium rod, with a Nikon SB 10 flash placed in it’s centre, went through the whole structure. In front of it there was a translucent plastic fastened to the frame with Velcro™ .
The good thing about my “invention” was that it looked like a parabola, which is the geometric form that allows an optimum light distribution. It’s size would also broaden the lighting area of the flash, making it softer at the same time.
Then to make my own studio background, I faded a piece of blue cotton fabric with sodium hipochlorite.

Softbox DIY © Marcelo Isarrualde

I can’t recall with who I first used this “gadgets” but I do remember well spending an afternoon in my living room, doing a photo shoot with Eduardo Galeano. Pure eighties style!

Eduardo Galeano © Marcelo Isarrualde

Lighting diagram © Marcelo Isarrualde Lighting diagram

Real vintage.pdf

 

 

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”.

Briefing

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

Technique

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

Vodka.pdf

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