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LIGHTING TECHNIQUES IN PHOTOGRAPHY

The indiscreet window

The photograph of the window was taken during a Strobist workshop class in Montevideo last year. It reminded me of the famous Hitchcock movie, where a photojournalist is forced to stay at rest with a leg in plaster. Despite the company of his girlfriend and his nurse, he tries to escape the tedium by observing from the window of his apartment with binoculars what is going on in the houses across the street. The film puts the magnifying glass on the idea of “voyeur” that we all have inside us, especially photographers.

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The above image was the last photograph I took at the Montevideo Planetarium, the first in Latin America. In 1919 Bauersfeld, a builder at the Carl Zeiss factory, began to investigate the idea of projecting a starry sky on the ceiling of a dome. Four years later, in 1923, the world’s first planetary show was held in the dome of the factory. And as photographers, we continue to marvel at the lenses of this house.

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© Isabel Rodríguez

I needed to shoot with an ambient light that was not too harsh, but very enveloping, close to the model. It was important to maintain the idea of nocturnality, so the room had to be illuminated, but enveloping the model. A small Godox window was more than enough to achieve this goal.

It was necessary to give a point of warmth to the environment to counteract the coldness of the outside light and for this I placed a CTO + 1 gelatin in the small Godox window. Outside, in the garden, I placed a hard light with a CTB +1 gelatin in order to give an idea of coldness to the observed scene. The two flashes I used were Yongnuo 560, which only work in Manual mode, but in a very efficient way and with a very reasonable price.

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Godox Octabox 80

The flash I placed in the garden was to emit a hard light. For this to be the case, the light source must be small and far away. The smaller the “apparent size” of the light source and the greater the distance from the subject, the more it resembles sunlight. With the Yongnuo flash placed directly towards the window it was enough, although the beam is very open and also the blue gelatin took power away from the flash. To solve this problem I set the internal zoom on the flash to the “tele” position, thus narrowing the beam and optimizing its power and amplitude.

When this is not enough, I usually use a fantastic adapter from Godox that allows you to place any accessory from a studio flash on it, and thus get the quality of light from these accessories, on a reportage flash.

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Godox adapter for Bowens accessories

In another post I used it as it was necessary to counteract the power of the sun in backlight and by attaching a honeycomb parabola, it solved the problem as the parabola made the light beam even smaller, increasing its harshness.

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Godox adapter with Bowens parabolic reflector

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James Stewart in “Rear Window” Alfred Hitchcock 1954

The tense narration of the film, with a staging in a reduced space, plus the magnificent use of the “tempo” as an expositor of the suspenseful situation, or the brilliant photography of Robert Burks make this title one of the best works of the English author. My photographic version of the film, I only try to reflect in a single image, the disturbing plot of the original.

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Returning to the Planetarium idea, the class began in the central room of the building, in the actual Planetarium. As we already know, it is a place dedicated to the presentation of astronomical shows. Each planetarium is different and each uses different technologies to generate excitement in the viewer and make the staging as realistic as possible. The projector was very rare and I wanted it to appear in the frame. To do this, the model climbed up on a pair of stools so I could match her head in the center of the projector. The exposure was very slow, the model moved and the following image resulted.

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The lighting had to be wide in order to cover the whole body of the model, or at least half of it for the American shots. I used a large octagonal Godox window, albeit a bit far away so that it would have some contrast. Since it was a very large room, the walls and curved ceiling were far away and did not produce any light bounce on the model. Thus, the illumination contrast was high.

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© Irina Raffo

Off camera flash Godox octa 120

Godox octa 120

Another interesting corner in this room was the cockpit. The photograph was very difficult to resolve in one shot because from the camera you were going to see the reflection of the window and the black glass plates of the three control panels. I placed the window in an oblique frontal position with respect to the model’s face and the reflection on the black glass board was inevitable. I had to take the shot with a tripod and after getting the picture of the model, I had to take other pictures changing the position of the flash and then superimpose in Photoshop three different layers, one for each control panel.

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© Isabel Rodríguez

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© Irina Raffo

The following image was taken in a corridor leading to some offices. The whole “look” of the place gave an idea of the fifties. For this photo I also used the same Godox window as in the projection room, because I wanted to see how far the same light source could give me different results depending on the context where the photographs were taken.

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I could not access the office in the background of the image, so it was important that some light reached at least the aluminum door leading to the hallway. It was necessary to direct the light towards the model a bit backlit, so that not too much light reached the office wall.

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© Isabel Rodríguez

Finally, it should be noted that the Godox accessory is also very effective for other reportage flashes that are somewhat more powerful than the usual ones. It is the Godox Witstro 360W flash, which I will talk about in another post.

Off camera flash Godox Witstro 360W

Godox Witstro 360W

Lighting scheme

Lighting scheme

The-Rear-Window.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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