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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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