Off camera flash


Strobist in depth

A couple of months ago, I gave another workshop on the Strobist technique at GrisArt, International School of Photography, in Barcelona. This time we were able to count on the facilities of a farmhouse in the same city, near the airport. The rooms of this location have been transformed into rooms with very different styles, with the purpose of being able to use different atmospheres within the same place.

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lighting scheme I

Model : Adriana V. C.

The first photograph was taken in a room whose walls were painted in pastel tones and had an enameled slab bathtub and a checkerboard chessboard floor. The colors of the walls reminded me of the famous George Petty and Alberto Vargas calendars, and the illustrations of Esquire magazine from the 40’s, with Pin Up girls. We were lucky to have a model who understood perfectly what we were looking for and both the styling and makeup were very appropriate for the shoot. The eyes with an intense black eyeliner, vanilla shadows all over the eyelid and red lips.

The lighting was very simple. On top of the camera, in an oblique frontal position, I placed a small octagonal light box from Godox. This fixture produces a diffuse and sufficiently wide illumination for the frame, but since it is not very large and is somewhat distant from the model, it allowed to qualify the diffusion with a small outline of shadows that resembled a “Paramount” light scheme, in its soft version. To further reduce the overall contrast of the environment, I used a second flash bounced off a white door on the left, since on the right, a window allowed the entry of natural light and thus, the environment was compensated with light. The bare arms, the headscarf, were a nod to J. Howard Miller’s 1943 poster for Westinghouse Electric. “We can do it! (“We can do it!”) and we did it!

The second photograph was taken in the same room, with the same styling and makeup. Some balloons we found in a corner led me to consider doing something fun in the bathtub. The bathtub was a bit deep so we had to fill the inner base so that the model’s body would not be too deep. The balloons were scarce and not very inflated, so I had to take the photo with a tripod to be able to easily insert more balloons in the final photo in post production. In this case, the light was to be diffused like the previous shot, but wider. To do this, I bounced the light from one flash to the ceiling and used another bounced flash to decrease the contrast on the bathtub and on the model’s face.

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Lighting scheme II

American Horror Story

In another post I described my liking for the American series that aired a few years ago. Not so much for the script as for its aesthetics, in the three seasons it lasted. A very narrow room with an oak desk, shutter model, inspired me to make a somewhat complicated photograph. The framing was very tight and there was no way to place a light source to counteract the natural light coming through the window behind the model’s back. I had to resort once again to the tripod, because the final solution was to make a post production setup to remove the light source from the frame.

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Lighting scheme III

David Molero

© David Molero

Once the tripod was in place, it was necessary to define how the window curtain should look in the final photograph. I wanted the woodwork of the window to be subtly visible through the thin fabric of the curtain. This premise defined the sensitivity of the sensor, the shutter speed and the aperture used. Once the background was resolved, the lighting of the subject had to be defined. The same small Godox Octa window was the ideal accessory, so as not to produce an excessively harsh or broad light. It was placed frontally and quite high, to simulate the effect of a real light bulb in such a room.

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Lighting scheme IV

As it is notorious in the posts of this blog, I usually find visual references in the photographs I take. The room in question had this painting on the wall, and there was a rope in the adjoining room. I saw the ochre colors of the walls, in the figure and its frame, in the model’s shirt and the rope appeared, in the same tone. Buñuel, a filmmaker I admire, who uses symbolic elements of all kinds in his extensive filmography, also appeared. The idea was to achieve an intimate situation and here too the small octagonal Godox light box was sufficient. The model’s eyes are not very well lit, because of the height of the position of the light source, but that was the intention. Also, the placement of the light source so high, it was suitable to highlight the texture of the rope.

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Lighting diagram V

The previous photograph complements the initial idea of the previous photograph, but in this case I wanted to take advantage of some natural light that was projected on a wall of the room, which is insinuated in the reflection of the mirror. The clothes have changed, the light now illuminates her face and the image tries to convey sensuality and mystery. Once again, Buñuel and the wallpaper walls appeared.

Buñuel Deneuve

C. Deneuve in “Belle de jour”

As this was a workshop on the diversity of lighting techniques that can be developed without great technical support, it was necessary to try something different, on the same day, in the same place, with the same resources. A large room was now ideal for trying out other lighting schemes.

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Lighting scheme IV

The dress was very important, it had to shine and show through the shine, the quality of the fabric. While there was a window to the right of the frame, the light was not very enveloping. I placed a large Colorama 200 x 200 cm diffuser panel and two Yongnuo 560 flashes behind it, at full power. These small flashes produce a very harsh illumination, but as their light passes through a large diffusing surface, the “apparent size” of the light source is enlarged and the light is scattered, soft and very broad. On the left, another white Colorama panel played the role of secondary, fill light, thus reducing the overall contrast of the shot.

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David Molero

© David Molero

Finally, twilight arrived, a beautiful time of day to take pictures with this technique. The big drawback is that the natural light fades very quickly and it was necessary to act without wasting time. I decided to take the photo at Ratio +1, leaving the background somewhat underexposed with respect to the intensity of the flash. Once again, the small octagonal Godox light box was the solution, but this time my taste in film reminded me of Hitchcok rather than the beloved Buñuel.

The Birds Hitchock

“The Birds” / Hitchock

An intense day, with the invaluable collaboration of the GrisArt team so that everything went very well !

Photo session in the photo studio La Masia, in Bellvigte, as part of a professional strobist photography course, with model, in one of the rooms with a bathtub. Lighting Scheme I

Photo session in the photo studio La Masia, in Bellvigte, as part of a professional strobist photography course, with model, in one of the rooms with a bathtub full of balloons. Lighting scheme II

Photo session in the photo studio La Masia, in Bellvigte, as part of a professional strobist photography course, with model, in one of the rooms. Lighting scheme III

Photo session in the photo studio La Masia, in Bellvigte, as part of a professional strobist photography course, with model. Lighting scheme IV

Photo session at La Masia photo studio in Bellvigte, as part of a professional strobist photography course. Lighting diagram V

Photo session in the photo studio La Masia, in Bellvigte, as part of a professional strobist photography course. Photography with model on a sofa. Lighting diagram VI


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