Off camera flash



Merli is a Spanish television series broadcast by the Catalan channel TV3. The series is about a philosophy teacher of the same name, who encourages his students to think freely through unorthodox methods, which will divide the opinions of the class, faculty and families. Each episode includes the views of a great thinker or school of thought, which ties in with the events of the characters. The series has arrived on Netflix and has been very well received by national audiences, and even in South America and the United States. The three seasons of this series have become the most watched on the platform.

The assignment was to create the poster for the last season. For this, the idea was to take the photograph in the schoolyard where the series was filmed. There, the students would make “a blanket”, that is, they would throw their teacher in the air and the shot would be taken from above, mounted on a crane.

First the shots were taken for a promotional video and at sunset the photography was done. At that time the light level was very low and therefore, although the photo was taken outdoors, a large canopy of 6 x 6 meters with a silk diffuser and two Profoto D2 flashes were used behind. Yo ya había utilizado un esquema parecido en otro encargo de TV3, cuando fotografié en estudio, todos juntos, a 26 presentadores de la televisión.

In this case, the group of people was smaller, but with the difficulty that they would be making a circle around the character and the faces would be in different positions with respect to the light. It was therefore important to achieve a very enveloping illumination, with low contrast, in order to be able to see each student’s face in detail. On this occasion, a slightly smaller second canopy was also used to reduce the overall contrast of the shot.

Off camera flash

First, the idea was to do all the shots separately, simulating the act of throwing the professor through the air. Although I took several photographs with the character lying on a bench, I thought it was much more real, and therefore believable, if they actually threw the professor in the air. Finally the best photograph was actually throwing it up in the air, but a lot of the guys’ heads were covered in the photo.

Therefore, I had to place marks on the floor and photograph each student separately so that all heads could be seen. The light was positioned far from the site to achieve an even distribution of light across the entire frame. However, as we know, the farther a light source is placed, the higher the contrast will be. By placing the large diffuser in front of the lights, I was able to reduce the contrast and achieve the subtle effect I wanted in the shot.

The photo was taken from a certain height to ensure focus not only on the professor’s body but also on the faces of the students. A focal length of 30mm and an aperture of f/8 was sufficient.

I was really pleased to see the photo featured on the TV3 and Netflix pages!



Lighting scheme


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