Part 1: The abandoned monastery
Pictures: Damien Lovegrove & Martin Hill
Models: Katy McGee & Miriam Martinez Hidalgo
We spent two weeks planning the operation. The mission was to find shooting locations, hotels, restaurants and contacts in Spain to run a workshop in October. While we were there we thought we should test the locations thoroughly. Martin and I are running a joint workshop in March (full) and we wanted to get up to speed with Speedlights on location for the coming season. We all need practice and what better way is there to do it than in sunny Spain. Here is the story of our adventure and some of the pictures from our first shoot.
DL 1. Katy in the extensive grounds at the mystery monastery. A pair of Speedlights rigged by Martin and I were used for this scene setting shot at the end of day 1. For the most part we had sun on day 1 and when it clouded over by 5.30pm we headed back to our sumptuous hotel for pre dinner drinks.
DL 2. Katy lit with natural light in a doorway to the accommodation block. (of the abandoned monastery not our hotel)
DL 3. One of my many beauty close up studies of Katy. Shot into the light using my 100mm prime macro lens.
DL 4. I love the way the sunlight alters the contours of Katy's shoulders. A simple shot with softness and strength. The timber post is supporting the precarious floor above.
We arrived at Alicante at 1pm, picked up our hire car and took to the road. Martin, Katy and I were on our way, our adventure had begun. We had been tipped off about some fantastic shoot locations in Southern Spain a few weeks ago and after some Google Earth exploring we had coordinates and a purpose. We pulled off the motorway to get some lunch. We drove a few kilometres into an industrial zone and found a small cafe. A few men were gathered outside smoking and chatting. We took our chances and found a table. No English was spoken in the Cafe so we made a lucky dip selection of tapas. The food was fantastic and such amazing value too. Katy enjoyed the white wine and feeling refreshed we set to find the abandoned monastery.
DL 5. This place is amazing. Katy was lit by a slash of Speedlight designed and rigged by Martin. Her vulnerable look adds to the moment.
We saw our location on the other side of the motorway and we knew it was special straight away. At the next junction we doubled back and took a farm track right up to the locked gates in the high wall. We searched for a way in and soon we had found a hole to climb through. The magic unfurled and we all tingled with delight. We were like giggling school children. We had to do an initial risk assessment of the site so that we could get underway with the shooting first thing the next day. We were itching to shoot there and then but we resisted. This location needed some planning to do it justice.
Martin and I worked together to light and design each alternate set up on the first shooting day.
DL 6. A single Speedlight can be so simple yet so effective. A near perfect lighting angle compliments Katy's facial contours. The shadow of her chin is beautifully scribed on her shoulders. Katy's gaze is the key to this shot. It speaks a lifetime of thoughts.
DL 7. I lit this shot with a pair of Speedlights in my new flash bracket that works with a brolly (soon to be launched). It is designed to be finely balanced and accommodate Pocket Wizard Flex receivers too.
DL 8. Martin rigged a Lastolite Ezybox to light this scene. I like his shot more but Marko has done a great job with the colours of the stone here.
DL 9. The details in this building are fabulous.
DL 10. The chapel was dark, A broken door was swinging in the wind and we all felt quite affected by the spiritual atmosphere. I used the light from a distant window to light this shot of Katy.
DL 11. There is so much potential in this location. We have barely scratched the surface with the few shots we took in this cavernous chapel.
DL 12. A shaft of sunlight struck this stone table by the entrance to the crypt.
DL 13. Both Martin and I were drawn to the small window in this shot.
DL 14. This was one of my favourite spots. There was virtually no light. My iPhone illuminated the walls enough for me to make out this painting. An Ezybox with an egg crate grid did the lighting job here.
DL 15. A simple shot made fabulous by the flash not triggering. It was rare on the trip but we found the problem this time was exhausted batteries in the Speedlight.
The second day of shooting started at the monastery with Katy and Miriam. Martin and I decided to shoot separately and swap models every hour or so throughout the day. We went to the supermarket en-route to buy provisions for lunch and plenty of fluids. Miriam’s mum came for the ride and was good fun to have around at both of our locations.
DL 16. Meet Miriam. I found Miriam, a Spanish model from the region, online and offered her a day test shooting with us. You can just make out Martin Hill in the background of this shot adjusting a Speedlight. Oh and I lit Miriam with our Ezybox and grid.
DL 17. The Ezybox did the job here too. I love the palms at this location. They remind me of the Eagles Hotel California album cover.
DL 19. A classic Lovegrove pose works well with Miriam's fabulous hair.
DL 20. The natural light at this venue is fabulous, even in February.
DL 22. I had to do a 'big shot' on the second day too. A cloud came over and filled the top of my frame. It was soon gone, how convenient.
DL 23. A pair of Speedlights and slashes of sunlight lit this scene. I put the Speedlight on the right of camera in an Ezybox to provide a soft key light.
DL 24. The Ezybox was perfect here too. Balancing sunlight, the flash contrast and the sky took a bit of doing but I'm happy with the result.
DL 25. I used careful placement of the sun to bring this shot of Katy to life. The oranges were perfect for eating. (We won't be shooting nudes on the workshops in October)
DL 26. A single Speedlight provided the backlight. We use Pocket Wizard triggers for all the shots over the three days and that meant we could trigger through walls.
DL 31. Katy looking out of the door where this picture set began.
Martin Hill’s shots…
MH 01. Martin had the idea to rig a Speedlight outside through the window so I got on with that while he rigged the Ezybox and grid.
MH 09. This shot and the next were lit with my new flash bracket brolly attachment thingy without a name.
MH 11. Martin used an Ezybox with grid in this area.
It was around this time in the late morning of our second day of shooting that Katy and I heard the loud and authoritative voices of Spanish men. I popped out of the room we were shooting in to find a pair of armed policemen, one in plain clothes and the other in uniform. They beckoned me across. I told Katy to put some jeans on before coming out and I kept the officers busy for a while. They didn’t speak any English but it was fairly easy to understand what was going on. They demanded my papers, passport and driving license. My passport was back at the hotel in my room safe but my driving license was to hand. Katy handed hers over too. The men were quite angry and no amount of smiling on my part was going to change that. A little while later, Miriam, her mum and Martin appeared from the other side of the complex and Miriam explained to the police what was going on. Angry growls became niceties, our papers were returned and we were allowed to continue shooting. Thank you Miriam. A little local support goes a long way when shooting abroad.
So there you have part one of our adventures in Spain. After a hearty lunch on the second day of shooting we went onto a disused quarry and mine. I’ll blog those pictures and the ones from day three soon. If you want to join us for a couple of days shooting in Spain (18th & 19th October) at these locations please click here. Places will go fast so be sure to book early. You can view part 2 of this post here.
You can also browse our range of upcoming photography training courses here.