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Tag Archives: Depth of field
Today’s post is about a new portrait lens I’m using. Its also about lighting.
The lens I’m using in these images is an 85mm f/1.8 (Nikon also makes this lens, but the reviews aren’t as strong as they are for the Canon). Its amazingly sharp, gives GREAT control over depth of field, its fast (f/1.8) and its relatively cheap ($400). If you don’t have this lens, rent one for your next street photography outing, family reunion, or studio shoot.
The first image is a client/studio shoot I did recently, using the 85mm. The lighting in this is complicated, perhaps more so then necessary, but essentially there was a lot of layering of light. Some of the lighting is fairly obvious. I have a background light, “rim” lights coming in from behind and both sides of the subject. Then I used two umbrellas/lights to give a base of lighting to the full torso. The last light was a beauty dish, to finish off the exposure of the face. Additionally, I shot on a neutral gray background. This allows me, with a great amount of detailed photoshop work, to tone the background exactly the way I want it. Technical: f/5.0 with the 85mm
The second image was shot this past weekend at a Johnson family reunion and the lighting was much more simple. One strobe with a large octobox (softbox). I used a shadow cast by the house to soften the direct sunlight, dialed in my exposure to manage the background and adjusted the light to what I wanted for output. I shot 30 family portraits in the afternoon using this setup. Technical: f/13 with the 85mm
Today’s images are outtakes from a small fashion show at the Midtown Global Market last Saturday. I want to share them and a few nuggets about getting better shots in difficult situations.
Helpful tips for event/portrait/candid photography:
1. Of course, pay attention to light. This event was inside, but located in the main court, right underneath a large, diffusive skylight. There was a lot of great light everywhere; That observation let shoot the last image in amazing, diffused natural light, no flash.
2. Don’t be afraid to shoot ISO 1600 if you need the shutter speed; Most contemporary digital cameras have outstanding quality at this ISO. Any problematic noise can be removed with software solutions.
3. Shoot a long lens with low aperture; All these images were shot at f/2.8 on a Canon 70-200mm tele. A very sharp lens, it also allows you to shoot strangers without entering their personal space and will hold depth of field in critical areas.
4. Use Flash; the first three were shot with the use of flash, a Fong Dome diffuser on the flash, camera exposure compensation set at -2/3 EV and the flash output set at -1/3 EV. The effect is to darken the background overall, and not over-flash the subject…this is my taste, but I find the combination can work very well…but not in all situations.
5. MOVE YOUR SUBJECT. In many cases I’ll ask my subject to reposition, so he/she is well off any background. This allows my intended subject to become dominate, especially with the flash falling on only my subject;
6. Go shoot public events like these. The offer a great opportunity to practice in a setting that is less intrusive for the photographer. There were lots of people taking pictures, including me and another professional. No one I asked for a photograph turned me down.
7. SCOUT. I arrived an hour ahead of the time the organizers asked me to be there. Left my camera in the car, walked the area, observed light, considered backgrounds, color in the space. Then I went back out, grabbed my gear and began to work.