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

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