Working with a Model on Location in Barcelona
A Modelling Day Out
In this madcap day out
- Like I need an excuse to fly for a day out. (I blame my birthday)
- Off to Heathrow
- British Airways Galleries Club, Terminal 3
- BA478 London Heathrow to Barcelona El Prat (Club Europe)
- Into Barcelona on the Aerobús
- Working with a Model on location in Barcelona
- Back to El Prat and the Salon VIP Miro
- BA481 Barcelona to London Heathrow (Club Europe)
- Experiencing Mobility Arrival Services at Heathrow and back up the M40
- Sometimes, The Best Adventures are Shared
To create a street photography style collection of images locations around Barcelona that don’t break the bank.
The Nerdy Set-up
With a street photography shoot like this, there’s not a lot I need to take photos with.
As usual, I’m using my camera of choice – a Canon EOS R with an RF to EF converter attached.
In terms of lenses, street photography can be done best with either a fixed focus lens (such as the Canon EF 50mm f1.2) or a Canon EF 24-105mm F4 IS.
Of course, having both helps a lot.
I chose the 50mm f1.2 due to the lovely bokeh it can generate and the 24-105mm f4 for its flexibility. You can get these lenses with the straight RF mount (with all the RF additions you get). Except I have a minor problem with that.
Namely the cost.
I’ll pass – for a while (or until RF lenses start appearing on the second-hand market with lower asking prices)
I might have also brought the Tonika 11-18mm… because sometimes, you need a bit of ultra-wide if your life.
Location and Shoots.
We’d be walking down La Rambla to start with, exploring side streets, to the water’s edge. We would then trackback up La Rambla, peeling off into the Gothic Quarter. Finally, we would visit Familia Sagrada as our endpoint
The route is a simple route and which could be done with walking and going a bit slow.
Whilst we did have one time pressure on us – ie – being back at the airport by 4:30 – this was as simple as plans go – the idea being if we found something interesting on the way – we could do photos as needed.
Conditions were sunny, which meant that both the model and I could work in comfort.
So let’s see what we can shoot.
Firstly, there’s a lovely door with stickers all over it. A perfect start.
Simple enough, but the stickers add an interesting background.
When I work, I tend to let the model guide her look and how they hold themselves – rather than bossing them around. I find it gives a much more natural style of shot that a “forced” posed.
We found one of the many streets off La Rambla, which provided for a good backdrop.
Heading down La Ramblas, we approached the Mirador de Colom. Perfect for a few photos.
Now, getting in the whole of the Mirador de Colom is… umm. Troublesome. I switched to my Tonika 11-18mm lens. Without switching the 1.6x crop lens (as the lens is designed for EF-S lenses.
Firstly, I like the effect. Your own taste may vary. You can see the imaging circle at 11mm and how much of the sensor can capture. If I could be bothered to change the settings, I would have set this to 1.6.x crop (which would cause a bit of a zoom that I didn’t want.
So instead, I switched to a point where the edges of the imaging circle are barely visible at 15mm.
I also used Adobe LightRoom’s lens tools in the develop module to apply the settings appropriate to the lens to the photo. This also helps in fixing distortion in the edit suite.
From here, we crossed over the road and over to Rambla de Mar. There were some steps that made a good place to sit and take photos. Because after a walk, we needed to rest.
And it gave me a few minutes to switch back to a 24-105mm. That 11-18mm is good for only a few circumstances.
And it’s great to capture posed moments, as well as unposed moments
This was not scripted. At all.
Heading further down we found a place for Rosie to dangle her legs off the ledge. I was slightly more than concerned, but she was happy (and wanted) to do this. So, like any good photographer – I went along with the show.
My style of photography is very “bursty” these days. This is the joy of having 8 frames per second to hand, SD cards that can take the punishment. Whilst it does generate a lot of photos, it can allow me to pick out that “one moment” that I’m looking for in a shoot.
The joy of Adobe Lightroom at work.
And the resultant image that I liked.
We headed back up La Rambla, where it was time to switch out the jack of all trades 24-105mm and switch to the 50mm. I would be driving it at its top-rated f1.2 aperture – without any ND filters. As long as I avoided direct sunlight – I stood a chance.
The problem with an f1.2 lens, the depth of field is razor-sharp – meaning if you don’t get your focusing points aligned correctly, you’re focusing at the wrong point and things you want in focus are suddenly out of focus.
And this isn’t a fast-focusing lens due to the amount of glass in the thing to make it work.
To put it another way, at f1.2, you are working with distances that the eyes can be out focus, but the nose can be sharp. You’re dealing with that level of precision.
But with a little persistence, you can make it work. You can make the model nice and sharp, and make everything melt into the background.
As we made our way into the Gothic Quarter, I asked the model if we could mix things up a bit. I had an eye-mask leftover from my last shoot (which I forgot to take out of the bag). This would make an unusual look as we walked through the Quarter.
(and never ask what’s in my shooting bag. It can change from shoot to shoot…)
And it works when you find a perfect bit of graffiti.
And a few with the mask off.
I took a look at the map, and checked with Rosie if she wanted to head to La Sagrada Familia. She said she was up for it – so we walked the 30 minutes from the Gothic Quarter to La Sagrada Familia – or the seemingly never complete basilica.
Or as Gaudí have remarked: “My client is not in a hurry”.
I switched back to my 24-105 here – mainly due to the pictures I was trying to achieve. And with a bit of trial and error, I was getting what I was wanting
I could had switched to the 11-18mm, but… Nah. Editing photos off that lens can be a real challenge some days.
Keeping it closer, we went for some more tighter portraits.
As well as had a little fun.
Who says photographic shoots have to be serious 100% of the time?
With both of us tired, we tracked back to Plaça de Catalyna on the Metro for the Aerobus back to the airport.
However, more fun awaited my friend that we could have both could have wanted….
Whilst I enjoy the controlled conditions you get in the studio, there is nothing like shooting out in the open, with a million of things that you can’t control.
It introduces the chance to experiment, to try ideas will a million different things going by. It also allows you to use two of the most important tools a photographer has when shooting – their eyes to scout locations and their thoughts to verbalise what they’re trying to achieve with a model.
I do my fair share of location shooting – mainly as a studio gets boring after a while. So if you do go shooting with a model, I encourage you to look beyond the studio and look for environments that can help you get some of your creativity going.
I’ll be starting a new photography review of the Canon EOS R again this month – so keep an eye out, as I’ll be sharing more stories from life with it as well as hints and tips that have made things more bearable.
Many thanks to Rosie. You can find out more about her and her work at her Instagram.
Next: Back to El Prat. And assistance, please.
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