Off camera flash


Gothic Quarter

The session took place in the narrow streets of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter. It was a class of fashion photography in outdoor location, with natural light and flash, taught for the Master of Photography at the Elisava school, University School of Design and Engineering, a teaching center of the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona.

Lighting Scheme I

The Gothic Quarter is the oldest part of the city and its historical center. In turn, it is composed of different neighborhoods that retain their own personality: the Jewish Quarter, Santos Justo y Pastor, Santa María del Pino, the Cathedral, Santa Ana, La Merced and the Palace. The structure of the neighborhood remained intact until the 19th century, a period that brought great transformations in the structure and morphology of the neighborhood, such as the transformation of the parish cemeteries into public squares and the emptying of large buildings with the consequent change of use or the demolition of the walls.

Lastolite diffuser

We started the session by taking some photos on a wall with direct sunlight. When the model was in place, the sun was shining directly on her, with a very harsh, high-contrast light.
The first step was to filter the sunlight so that its incidence would be more diffuse. I used a collapsible circular diffuser from Lastolite, which turned out to be very practical. In this way one EV was lost over the initial exposure with natural light since one exposure point is what is absorbed by this type of collapsible diffuser.

The direction of sunlight was very lateral so the contrast on the model’s face was very high. I placed a flash on the camera, but not on the hot shoe, but one meter higher to act as a fill light and lower the contrast produced by the sunlight through the diffuser. The illumination ratio was 0 to equalize the intensity of both lights.

Profoto B2

Being an outdoor session, in a neighborhood with very narrow streets and with a very high density of people walking around, I had to have a minimum lighting equipment, but powerful enough to counteract the natural light. I used a Profoto B2 torch with its mini generator and a small OCF octabox 2″ octagonal window. A lightweight Manfrotto stand helped me position the flash while a student held the Lastolite circular diffuser.

Lighting shceme II

The second image was taken in a somewhat dark corner of a neighborhood alley. One of the side facades was in shadow, which allowed me to place the flash in the same direction from where the natural light was coming from.

I used the same flash, with the same light modifier, but this time a little farther away so that I could light the entire plane that was visible in the frame. When we move a light source away, the contrast and saturation of colors increases. In this way, the illumination becomes more evident, the cheekbone is highlighted and more volume is generated on the face. At the same time, the textures of the clothing are also highlighted.

Profoto OCF softbox 2” octa

We decided to make a new version without so much contrast, with the same clothes. After all, it was a class and we had to try different possible lighting. In this case the photograph was taken against the front door of a beautiful building near Las Ramblas, the main artery of the Old Town of the city.

In this place, open to a square, the natural illumination of the sun was not direct, but with a large open sky which generated a very diffuse natural lighting on the scene. I wanted to add some contrast and brightness to the photo and this time I used a modifier larger than the octa window. The accessory of choice was a small translucent umbrella, also from Profoto.

Profoto Shallow umbrela M

Lighting scheme III

Umbrellas have been widely used accessories in the sixties. Great photographers such as Richard Avedon, gave it a lot of use in Fashion and Portrait sessions in studio. The translucent ones are somewhat harder than the rebound ones and somewhat less broad and more directional. They give a little point of contrast that I really like. It is also an inexpensive modifier, easy to assemble and very light.

Richard Avedon in his studio

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lighting scheme I


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