Off camera flash

LIGHTING TECHNIQUES IN PHOTOGRAPHY

Mateo

I have lived in Barcelona for 26 years and a week after arriving in Spain I lived at my friend Mateo’s house for three months. We did not know each other, but in Madrid I had been told about him as a very supportive Uruguayan who was well known and esteemed by the whole community of compatriots in Catalonia.

off-camera flash

At that time, Polaroid’s Latin American Division had given me about 50 packs of their film, for a personal project that I would present in Caracas, representing Uruguay, on the occasion of the “Cuartas Jornadas de Fotografía Latinoamericana” (Fourth Latin American Photography Conference). It was a series of photographic “collages” in the style of David Hockney that showed, like a “big postcard”, the people and places that had passed through my life in that first year of life in Barcelona. The series was called “Barna Puzzle” and tried to recompose in fractions of individual photos an idea of the whole away from the traditional representation of perspective.

off-camera flash

Mateo

Years later, Hockney, together with Charles M. Falco, wrote a thesis in Art History, in which he proposed the use of optical instruments in the creation of oil paintings from the Renaissance onwards. This thesis would later become a fantastic documentary entitled “The Secret Knowledge”, produced by BBC Word in 2006, where the author explains, among many interesting concepts, why he used the technique of “imprecise perspective” for his work in Polaroids. In his own words, using a representation where each part has its own perspective, makes the viewer feel “inside the work” and not like “looking through a window”, as happens in conventional perspective and direct photography.

But back to the photo shoot with my friend Mateo. A very nice antique store in the old town of Barcelona was the chosen location. Mateo had some old books he wanted to give them and the place became the perfect setting for his portrait.

off-camera flash

The store was cluttered with objects of all kinds and it was very difficult to place a flash. I then decided to bounce the light from a Yongnuo 560 reportage flash against the angle where the ceiling and walls met to get a wide, diffused light. However, it seemed more appropriate, once I saw the result, to direct the light beam directly on my friend’s face. In this way the texture of the fur and hat would be highlighted. At the same time, I zoomed the flash to the “tele” position to get a very tight, hard beam.

The ambient light in the location was not very intense, so I had to use a tripod, a medium ISO, and a fairly wide aperture. The required flash power was minimal, and I was able to complete the shot with ease.

off-camera flash

Once the session was over, there was still some light outside, so we decided to visit the beautiful Plaza Sant Felip Neri, where the church of the same name is located, surrounded by Renaissance-style houses. There are also the headquarters of the ancient guilds of the Coppersmiths and Shoemakers, the latter being the site of the Barcelona Shoe Museum. There, I took some portraits using the same hard and direct light, at a Ratio of +1. This means that the intensity of the flash was one EV (exposure value) above the ambient light.

off-camera flash

We had packed up the equipment and were about to leave when I saw another photo opportunity. This time, I softened the flash light using a small octagonal Photoflex softbox positioned very close to their face, capturing the surprise of their expression. What’s truly surprising is that many years have passed, and we are still good friends.

off-camera flash

off-camera flash

Octodome mini from Photoflex

Lighting scheme of the Mateo Tikas photo session

Lighting scheme

Mateo.pdf

All rights reserved. © Marcelo Isarrualde
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