Catrina theme photoshoot 2017

Rocio dressed as a Catrina against a graffitied wall of an abandoned building

This year when I got together with my very talented friend, Mexican artist Fryda Fernandez, to create some Catrina  pictures for the “El Dia de los Muertos” (Day of the Dead) theme, she did not disappoint with her makeup creations and styling.

Fryda at the abandoned building with her own sugar skull makeup and styling.. Also at an abandoned building

This year we decided to take it outdoors on location.

Part 1 of our shoot was at  an abandoned building and Part 2 was on the grounds of my buddy Martin Sanchez’s Tios Tacos restaurant in downtown Riverside.

I tried toning the image a little colder. Mouse over the image to see what it looked like out-of-the-camera. Abandoned building

For the 1st part, we recruited Nancy and her sister Rocio.

Nancy with her sister Rocio at the abandoned building. Main light was my Orlit Rovelight 610RT inside a Octodome softbox on the left out of camera view.. Accent light 2 Canon 600EX-RTs inside another Octodome on the right just out of camera view.

I also had the invaluable assistance of Marvin Sesuca. Without Marvin’s help the shoot wouldn’t have gone as smoothly.

Two locations

Studios while being  convenient because they allow you absolute control over the lighting and easy access to  restrooms, makeup areas and other amenities have down sides.

A studio doesn’t character and ambiance unless you create it because it is essentially a big empty box with walls.

Shooting on-locations requires quite a bit more planning.

Everyone needs to be on time especially if the site is not easily found or accessible.

I scouted the place in advance to find the easiest foot path taking into consideration the equipment I had to bring.

So I made sure to pack carefully and weighed the pros and cons of every piece of gear.

After shooting at the abandoned building, working at Tios Tacos restaurant with just Fryda by herself was such a breeze.

It was nice to be able to go the the car and get my gear as I needed it.


Fryda inside the little chapel at Tios Tacos. Very crammed inside so it required some quite a bit of finagling to get it lit. Let me know under comments if you have any questions

Part One–It was late morning by the time  we arrived at the abandoned building and I knew going in I would need more power than just Speedlites powered by AA batteries  (even with my speedlites doubled up in my Octodome bracket)

So I brought along the Orlit Rovelight which can be triggered and controlled by Canon’s ST-E3-RT transmitter.

It’s about a 6-lb studio strobe with the battery– not exactly portable– so it required a light stand that was heavier.

Martin and Nacho creators of the skull made from recycled tin cans from Martin’s restaurant. I used 2 Speedlites on this image. Can you tell where they were placed? Post under comments if want to know.
Fryda as a high priestess inside Martin Sanchez’s wigwam creation on the grounds of his famous Tios Tacos restaurant. I used 3 speedlites on this. If you have questions, post them under comments.

Too often  folks spend close to $500 for a  high end speedlite only to  put that on a cheap light stand. It’s not prudent.

Don’t forget with most strobes or speedlites, by the time you add a light modifier whether it’s an umbrella or softbox, that makes the entire light weigh an additional 1 to 2 more pounds.

The Orlit Rovelight is about 11x more powerful than 1 of my Canon 600E-RT Speedlites. (Comparing their guide numbers Orlit Rovelight is 661 and the Canon 600EX-RT is 60).

A closeup of Fryda’s wonderful makeup and styling.

Part 2–At the 2nd location, the grounds of Tios Tacos restaurant,  I arranged for Fryda to meet me in the evening at 5pm.

At 5pm with the sun setting, I didn’t need the power of the Orlit Rovelight strobe, I just needed many smaller Speedlites.

Inside the wigwam with Fryda
Fryda posing with Martin Sanchez’s many creations which go on display every November at Riverside’s Day of the Dead festival

Peter Phun Photography

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