Off camera flash


The doomed door

The Hotel Cervantes opened its doors in Montevideo in 1928. Although it occasionally housed other famous Argentine writers, such as Adolfo Bioy Casares and Jorge Luis Borges, it was Cortázar who turned one of its rooms into a treasure with his short story “The Doomed Door”. A cinema/theater adjacent to the building, the former Cervantes Theater, now part of the modern Hotel Esplendor, preserves beautiful marquees and lighting fixtures from the period.

Off camera flash Strobist technique

I started the session in what used to be the hall of the cinema. Although this hall was cut in half with the remodeling of the hotel, it retains its original beauty around the ticket office where tickets were purchased. As the hotel retains an aura of mystery from Cortázar’s story, I wanted the first photograph to be somewhat intimate, with a light that was not too harsh, but very directed towards the model. The lights in the space were varied and I decided not to neutralize their color dominance. Thus, a corridor at the back with incandescent lamps produced a very yellow light of 3200 ºKelvin, and the main hall a dominant greenish light from the fluorescent lamps.

Hotel Cervantes Hall of the former Cervantes Cinema Theater

The first thing was to take a photograph with the correct exposure to record the environment with the existing light. I then completed the shot with the light from the flashes. The ambient light from the stairs was tungsten and was noticeably visible at the upper left edge of the image. This led me to decide that inside the box office I should keep the same color dominance. For this I placed a CTO +1 gelatin in front of the Yongnuo 560 flash. Since I decided to bounce the light off the wall opposite the opening, the result was very diffuse and wide. To illuminate the model I used a second light source, with a small octagonal Godox window, from her back, at 0 ratio.

Rosco Cinegel Rosco cinegel CTO

Godox deep umbrella Godox SB-UE 80

Strobist Model : Betina Margni / Valentino bookings

The previous variant differs from the initial one in that the main light source has been moved to a somewhat more frontal position. As the shot was shorter, the girl’s face was going to have a greater prominence and I didn’t want a result as contrasted as the first photograph. The wardrobe styling work was very good, as well as the makeup and as the clothes were very monochromatic, I decided in post production to desaturate a little the whole environment and her skin

Isarrualde Photography Styling : Valentina de Llano

The photo shoot took place during a Strobist class, so I wanted the students to have the opportunity to see various lighting techniques in the same session. The image of the staircase had a point of greater complexity in the fact of having to illuminate a larger area and in a homogeneous way. The main light was wide and soft. For this I used a Godox Octa window slightly larger than the one I used in the first shot, with a Yongnuo 560 flash. At the bottom, as the staircase reached the landing and the doors leading to the room where the movie theater used to be, the light was very low. I decided to place a second flash at the top of the second flight of stairs, directed downward. In this photograph I did not take into account the ambient light. Since the walls were white and the wardrobe was very monochromatic, I wanted the resulting image to be almost black and white.

Cervantes Movie Theater Cervantes Movie Theater

It could not miss a photograph taken in what was once the movie theater. With the current renovation, this room was converted into a party or meeting room, but maintained the depth of the initial space.

Off camera flash Off camera flash

On the stage I found a large designer sofa, the ideal environment to try a different light. In this case I used a Bowens bayonet adapter and attached a honeycomb parabola. The light was too harsh and the exposure time too low to capture the ambient light and the formal rhythm produced by the luminaires.

Off camera flash © Isabel Rodríguez
Off camera flash Godox S with honeycomb parabola
Godox S type Godox S with Bowens Bayonet

This fantastic adapter allows you to use the entire Bowens line of accessories with reportage flashes. It is not the only one on the market, but it is very good and solid. Profoto also has its version of this type of accessory, but for using two flashes at the same time with its entire line of windows. This is the 100502 RFI ring which I have not yet used.
Profoto 100502 RFI Profoto 100502 RFI

Strobist Strobist technique

The last photograph was taken in a hotel room. The furniture was very sober, the curtains, shoes and pants were black and the make-up was very outlined. The resulting image had too many hard components and so I decided to make the light soft. For this I used the same Godox Octa light window but the fill was a bounce from a second flash against the opposite wall. Thus, the illumination contrast was very low.

Off camera flash © Isabel Rodríguez

Isarrualde Photography Strobist technique

It was not enough time to find “The doomed door”, the one behind which Cortázar tells us that a shopkeeper at night hears the mysterious cry of a child behind the closet that covers a closed door ….. But we will do it another day.

Photo session at the Cervantes Hotel, in Montevideo, as part of a professional strobist photography workshop, with model, in the hotel's old ticket office. lighting scheme I

Photo session at the Cervantes Hotel, in Montevideo, as part of a professional strobist photography workshop, with model. Lighting scheme II

Photo session at the Cervantes Hotel, in Montevideo, as part of a professional strobist photography workshop. Lighting scheme III


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.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top