Visual acuity

Do we, photographers, have visual acuity? If we understand visual acuity as the capability of our vision to perceive, detect or identify spatial objects with good light conditions, we should have it. A distance from the constant object, if you see a small letter clearly, you have more visual acuity than another person that does not see it. Well, this is not enough condition to be a photographer, but it is necessary, although I know about cases of blind photographers

I went to the ophthalmologist to do the annual revision and I came up on the beautiful – and at the same time weird – Phoropther. Some time ago I had found a series of photos that I liked a lot about this subject and decided to do my own version. Later I realized that almost all versions of this device were very similar, its design is spectacular and all of us to see it the same way.

The Burns Archives

I remembered the famous photo report that Andreas Feininger made about the photo reporter from Life, Dennis Stock, in 1951 and some self-portraits with similar aesthetic. All these photographs make a reference to the relationship between the optical and the photographic and have a high formal weight.

 © Andreas Feininger

   © Andreas Feininger

The Phoropther has as much formal strength as the Leica and the magnifying glass in the previous photos, which makes it difficult to escape from the typical frontal photography. Aware of this I took the photo and here I explain how it was made.

  El Flaco

As always, I had the invaluable assistance of my friend El Flaco, who is always willing to help in carrying out my photos, as he did incountless times before, as well for the posts of this blog. I also could count on the collaboration from Visionlab, the company where I usually make my optical revisions.

In the first set of lights I placed a translucent umbrella below the camera and the fantastic OctoDome mini from Photofex above. Between them, I put a multipurpose aluminum frame that I made over 20 years ago and that still accompanies me. Before I used the frame to carry two Nikon cameras hanging from my neck with a single belt, but now I use it to put the camera in the axis of the light without the need for an arm and a counterweight for the flash.

Diy bracket

Diy bracket

After some first pictures I saw that the reflexions from the knobs of the Phoropther did not turn out as good as expected and therefor I decided to reverse the set. In the end the best lightning for the apparatus turned out being when the umbrella was placed above the camera. The two flashes I used were Yongnuo 560 with the batteries PB820 from Godox.

El Flaco

Last, I removed the aluminum plate that was on the wall with Photoshop since it distracted some. I also matched the tones of both lights and gave the set a warm dominant.

  Lighting Diagram

Visual acuity.pdf

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

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

All rights reserved. © Isarrualde Photography

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

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

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.

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.

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?”.

Supertramp

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.

Crisis.pdf

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