Off camera flash

LIGHTING TECHNIQUES IN PHOTOGRAPHY

Summer in winter

The photograph was taken for the packaging of a dermocellular repair cream. It was commissioned by the design studio By Talking in Barcelona. The briefing was very clear, precise and gave no room for error. It was about photographing the back of a girl who had sunbathed too much. The difficulty of the assignment was to take the photograph at the end of winter and to give the idea of being next to a lake or a river, in summer.

Lighting scheme

The first thing was to locate the right environment, with the right light. We went to the Santa Fé Reservoir, in the Catalan Montseny, but it turned out to be a very open environment, with a natural light that was difficult to control because even if the day was cloudy, there was always plenty of light. By this I am not referring to the amount of light but to the illumination surface. The extension was so large that the sun left no shaded areas near the water.

Off-camera flash

My friend and photographer Isabella Antonelli accompanied me in her beautiful yellow Citröen 2CV and as she knew the area quite well she helped me locate a more suitable spot for the photo. A small trickle of water near a campsite was the chosen location.

Off-camera flash

The advantage of this second location was that the narrower banks of the water course meant that the trees created shadows on the water. On the other hand, the rocks near the shore made it possible to place a high point of light, if necessary.

Off-camera flash

© Gemma Pujalte Cabré

Thanks to the invaluable collaboration of Meritxell Seva in makeup, it was possible to achieve an excessive tanning effect on the back. The problem was that on the day of the photo shoot, the weather was not as good as when we went to locate. It was cold and the sky was cloudy at times. Abril Pàmies Pujalte, the fantastic girl who played the role of model, resisted the cold with great fortitude. I had to act fast anyway, it was so cold.

Off-camera flash

© Gemma Pujalte Cabré

The idea was that some sunlight would reach it, in a somewhat darker environment. For this I had to resort to a reportage flash to play the role of the “Sun” for two reasons. On the one hand, the sun was setting and rising too often and was uncontrollable. On the other hand, at the time of the shots, the sun was not in the place that was convenient for photography.

Off-camera flash

© Gemma Pujalte Cabré

The solution was to work on a Ratio +1 lighting ratio. This means that the flash output was one EV (exposure value) above the ambient light. By prioritizing the power of the flash, the environment was going to be dark. I worked with a Godox EX600 reportage flash with enough power for this photograph. I did not attach any fixture to the bayonet of the same as a small point light was needed to emulate the Sun.

Off-camera flash

Godox EX600

The basic principle of controlling the contrast of flash lighting is that contrast depends on two factors: the distance from the light source to the subject and the “apparent size” of the light source. If we place a small light source far away from the subject it will produce a hard light, but if we move it further away, its hardness will be greater and the gloom will be minimized. Another line of flashes that I like a lot for this type of work are the Profoto B2s because their torch is very small and without accessories produces a very sharp, hard and intense light. In addition, its battery life is extraordinary.

Off-camera flash

Profoto B2

Off-camera flash

In the case at hand, since it was necessary to emulate the sun, the light source had to be far away. So, I finally placed the flash from the top of a rock that was not only far away from the model but high enough to be believable as sunlight. Since the color temperature of the Sun and the flash is the same, 5500ºK, I did not need to filter the light. I also used a white reflector to decrease the contrast on the girl’s back.

Off-camera flash

© Gemma Pujalte Cabré

Many times we think we need expensive and large lighting equipment for advertising jobs and this is a good example of how sometimes, “less is more”.

Off-camera flash

lighting scheme of an advertising photo for skin protection creams

Lighting scheme

winter-in-summer.pdf

All rights reserved. © Marcelo Isarrualde
No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the written permission of the author.

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