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

All rights reserved. © Isarrualde Photography

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

Strobist kit 5

By its name, the idea of this blog is to explain how to light a scene when we remove the flash shoe of the camera. But sometimes it is desirable that the flash is – if not in the shoe – at least close to the camera. The use of arms to separate the flash of the camera to give some volume to photographed reason comes from afar, like the use of cables to separate further.

Strobonar  Futuramic Strobonar

But what should we do when we want the lighting to be very flat and direct, and we don’t have a ring flash? In these cases the idea is to get the flash as close as possible to the optical axis to minimize the projected shadow. Terry Richardson took many photographs at the beginning of his career with a small film camera Yashica T4 and he used it to photograph countless celebrities and models that he would position standing by a white wall. This camera has the built-in flash slightly away from the optical axis, but when shooting from a distance and the body of the model is perpendicular to the optical axis, the shadows effect on the wall is minimized.

Yashica-T4  Yashica T4

He eventually went on to shoot with a DSLR digital camera and there the problem arose. How to position the flash off the optical axis? Then, came the solution with the strip CB mini RC Custom Brackets!

Custom-Bracket--Mini-RC  Custom Brackets

Custom-Bracket--Mini-RC

As shown in the above image with this strip the flash torch stays very close to the lens and shadows are minimized.

Terry-Richardson-Fashion-Week-Berlin  Terry Richardson Fashion Week Berlin

The pictures Richardson took of Lady Gaga for the Supreme brand in 2010 are proof of this, as we see on the cover of the excellent French magazine Photo.

Photo-magazine-Lady-Gaga-Terry-Richardson-Supreme   Lady Gaga by Terry Richardson

Lady-Gaga-Terry-Richardson  Behind the scenes

Regarding those made for the famous Pirelli calendar 2010, these pictures reveal how this technique works outdoors. As can be seen, he set the exposure to the available light at the location while the front is filled up with the flash. This gives a great shine to the body of the model and eliminates shadows caused by sunlight.

Terry-Richardson-Pirelli  Pirelli calendar

There are other systems that allow speedlights to move from the hot shoe of the camera with great flexibility. One of these arms combined with a strip is the Manfrotto 233B which in this example is positioned to a shooting of macrophotography combining two Nikon R1 macro flashes with one of the standard SB series.

Manfrotto-233B  Manfrotto 233B

Also the option of the Olympus bracket FL BKM03 is very interesting, like the Ray Flash Rotator model.
Olympus-FL-BKMo3-bracket  Olympus FL BKM03

RayFlash-Rotator  Ray Flash Rotator

The option of Pro Media Gear with the Boomerang model is very robust. Boomerang de Pro Media Gear

Pro-Media-Gear-BB-Grip  Boomerang de Pro Media Gear

Finally it is worth highlighting the catalog from Really Right Stuff with a huge variety of photographic accessories including the WPF-QR strip bracket specially relevant for this post.

RRS-WPFQR-02  Really Right Stuff WPF-QR

This bracket keeps the speedlight aligned with the optical axis but with a noticeable parallax. I have used it, with a flash standing in front of a light box OctoDome mini Photoflex and has worked nice on a project I’m doing of circus portraits .

Octodome-mini Photoflex  WPF-QR with softbox Octodome mini

Octodome-mini-portrait

Strobist kit 5.pdf

Any partial or full reproduction is prohibited without the written consent of the author. All rights reserved. © Marcelo Isarrualde

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.

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

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

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

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.

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

Strobist Workshop

For more than 20 years I have given classes and workshops on the subject of photography. I started in Uruguay, giving basic classes together with my great friend Guillermo Robles, and after a year in New York where I during a short time of period worked in the ICP, I settled in Barcelona.

I have been teaching photojournalism, architectural photography, history of photography, author development projects, and in recent years, I have given various lighting courses, from a basic to a professional level.

Some months ago I traveled to Uruguay since the CMDF very generously invited me to exhibit my latest personal project during the festival Fotograma 2011, and also to provide a technical workshop on Strobist in Montevideo. That is the place where I started my first classes and I was very excited to go back – even for a few days – and contribute with some of my experience.

In this post there are no PDF-schemes … but soon I will share the sessions that I will do there!

Strobist technique © Marcelo Isarrualde  Model: Gemma Cadenas

Strobist © Marcelo Isarrualde

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