Summertime

This image was also shot in the Strobist workshop I gave in Montevideo last November. It was the height of summer and I wanted to achieve a summery look which at the same time had a vintage feel as the building we were shooting in was from the 1930’s.

Off camera flash Model Paola Risso

We did the the session at the Yatch Club Uruguayo, a classic and emblematic example of the architecture that prevailed in 1930’s Uruguay. It was built by two architects, Jorge Herrán and Luis Crespi.

Strobist   © Diego Castiglioni

The location allowed for shooting exteriors, interiors and also on the clubs impressive balconies with their panoramic views. We shot on three different sets but the photo I liked the most of all was shot on the third floor balcony, having to mix natural ambient light with flash. This is the photo which I explain further on.

Strobist

On the web I found a book, written by Joann Biondi, which features a photograph of the famous photographer and model Bunny Yeager on the cover. It gave me the idea for this post, recreate the cover as an homage to this famous photographer. Yeager began as a model and upon retiring switched to photography. In 1954 she met Bettie Page and took most of the photographs of her that year.

Strobist   Strobist

Bunny Yeager and Irving Klaw helped to make Page famous through their photos for Playboy. Although Bunny used various formats, one of her favourite cameras was the legendary Crown Graphic, the superior model to the Speed Graphic used by Weegee.

Strobist   Betty Page

Today its difficult to imagine shooting people with a large format camera, forcing the model to stay put, focusing, the plate, etc,etc. The Speed Graphic doesn’t have all the tilt/shift features of a full view camera and is thus more portable, earning it the name, “field camera”.

Super Graphic

On to the important stuff, the lighting. I chose the big yellow balcony initially as it allowed a lot of freedom to play with contrast against the blue sky even though I ended up going for a closer shot.

Marcelo Isarrualde   Marcelo Isarrualde

The first step was to measure the ambient light and choose the combination of shutter speed and f stop I wanted to use. The sun was strong so I opted for the fastest shutter speed possible, allowing me to open up the aperture and reduce the need for huge amounts of flash. I wanted to create an effect of concentrated light on the model but instead of putting the zoom of the flash in the tele position, I chose to use it in the wide position and mount a parabolic reflector with a honeycomb grid from Bowens.

Marcelo Isarrualde  © Diego Castiglioni

Using a Fomex adaptor I can attach any of my Bowens equipment to the Yongnuo 560 flashes I usually use. I also use Godox PB820 batteries and the indispensable PocketWizards to assure there wont be any problems with flash sync.

Strobist   © Diego Castiglioni

Off camera flash  Adaptador Fomex for Bowens

The light this reflector gives is hard and very direct, by moving it further from the model it gets harder and starts to look like sunlight, which on that day was very hard as there were very few clouds.

Off camera flash   Off camera flash

The final touch was given in post production, changing the overall tone of the image to give a vintage feel like in the previous post.

Marcelo Isarrualde © Marcelo Isarrualde

Lighting diagram  Lighting diagram

Summertime.pdf

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Vintage look

Whilst giving a Stobist workshop in Montevideo, I was lucky enough to be given permission to shoot in Teatro Solís, a major point of reference within the dramatic arts world of Uruguay. The idea for the shoot was that the images have a certain air of bygone times, of old portraits, a classic feel. Like my own memories of that beautiful city.

Strobist © Marcelo Isarrualde Modelo Graciana Duarte

I began the session in exterior with the sun disappearing behind the clouds fairly frequently, thus the light was somewhat unreliable. The colonnades of the theatre are very impressive and the checkered tile floor also. First, I had to decide what part I wanted the natural light to play in the setup. So before turning on the flash I took a few shots to evaluate the ambient light.

Strobist test © Marcelo Isarrualde   Strobist test © Marcelo Isarrualde Maq. Betina Gasberg

For the first shots the hard afternoon sun was still shining in, so was unable to use a very wide aperture. My cameras flash sync is at 1/250 and I was using manual flashes which didn’t allow for high shutter speeds. I set the flash facing outwards toward the column and so it wouldn’t be too prominent a source, I aimed to match the tone of the column in the foreground with those in the back, in the shade.
The light changed suddenly and I was forced to make adjustments to the setup. It had clouded over so the direction I was shooting in and the direction of the flash.

Strobist © Marcelo Isarrualde  © Irina Raffo

The natural light had lost any kind of direction due to the clouds acting as a huge diffuser, also lowering the contrast and saturation all round. I decided to switch the flash to a more frontal direction, coming from camera, so as to help fill in the ambient light without generating volume in the face of the model. I also placed a reflector below to fill in the shadows under her chin.

Strobist © Lucía Coppola

Even though this shot was only made a few columns to the right of the photos with hard sun, the end result was quite different. As the sun was less intense, it allowed me to widen the aperture and achieve less depth of field.

Strobist © Marcelo Isarrualde  Hair stylist Mariana Mendizabal

For me, the photo most interesting was made in the foyer of the theatre. There was alot of light entering from the facade of the building into the big hall, acting as a heavy backlight from where I wanted to shoot from. I raised the ISO to 400 and setup on tripod. The flash I used was a Yongnuo 560 with Godox PB820 battery.

Strobist  © Irina Raffo

Lighting diagram  Lighting diagram

Vintage look.pdf

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All reproduction is prohibited without the written consent of the author.

 

 

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

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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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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

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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