I was in L.A. recently and had a chance to visit my long time friend actor Tiffany Dupont. We’ve shot together for years before she moved from Atlanta to Hollywood and had been promising each other that we’d do it again soon. Well “soon” finally happened–completely unplanned! I had my camera. Hey you can’t take pictures without a camera you know and although I didn’t have any lights with me I did have a prototype of the new Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom lens complete with built-in optical stabilization. It was late in the day. While Tiffany put on makeup I wandered around the second floor apartment looking at light and backgrounds.
The first thing I look for on a location is the background. Backgrounds anchor the photograph by adding context and interest. Imagine if everything were black or white! Boring, to say the least yet sometimes with white it’s what the client wants so that’s what happens.
One location I loved was in the hallway. Tiffany’s dog Skyler’s shadow is on the wall. If I’d had lights… ah well. Next time.
The next part is the light. I ask myself where and when will the light happen? I look for north light. North light is mostly a constant that is not dependent on time of day like sunrise, late afternoon “golden hour” light or sunset. North light will still be usable for a short time even after the sun slips away.
I found some beautiful light from the window in the bedroom just as Tiffany’s roommate Emily came home. We decided to shoot some of them together as well as a few of Emily before she had to go to work.
After Emily left, I made this one of Tiffany against the headboard.
Then we moved onto the balcony where the photograph used in Sigma’s ad for the 70-200mm OS lens in Rangefinder magazine was made. The light was low so I braced my bottom against the back of a chair, took a deep breath then pressed the shutter. The result was amazing considering the exposure was f/5.6 at a 60th of a second! It’s even more remarkable since the lens was zoomed to 135mm. The rule for hand holding a lens is that the shutter speed must be at least as fast as the focal length not half as much as I used. Best of all, with Optical Stabilization rated at four stops, I would have been able to make the photograph as low as 1/8 of a second!
We shot the poses above on the porch until the warm glow of late afternoon faded.
While Tiffany changed clothes I moved to the other side of the wrap around balcony, which was lit, by open sky. I like to explore photographic possibilities with a model. We toss ideas back and forth. That interaction makes the session flow. Tiffany and I’ve done this so many times that it’s comfortable, easy and lots of fun.
Again there wasn’t much light so to minimize my movement I leaned my back against a post with my feet spread to form a human tripod. I tucked my elbows into my sides holding the camera as steady as humanly possible. Then I relied on the optical stabilization to handle the rest. The light was wonderful and Tiffany is lovely, vibrant and, well amazing. Her dog Skylar (Sky Sky) even joined the fun. The results, well a picture is worth a thousand words…
I’m not the biggest fan of available light in the world; I mean why depend on nature when you don’t have to? It’s really nice to know that when the proper kit isn’t available, super quality photographs are possible thanks to higher ISOs and optical stabilization of the prototype 70-200 mm lens I was shooting.
Sigma’s standard (unstabilized) 70-200 mm zoom lens has been a mainstay in my camera bag for the last couple of years. It packs a lot of versatility—size, zoom range and of course speed (did I mention it’s an f/2.8?) I am completely excited about adding the new one that does all that and has built in optical stabilization. It will allow me to capture photographs that just a few years ago would have been all but impossible. It’s sharp, fast, stabalized and affordable. What’s not to love?
Here’s one more of Tiffany lit by open sky and photographed with the lens set to 126mm at 1/30 of a second at f/3.2. Along with this month’s Rangefinder magazine ad. Read more of my photographic adventures by following my blog on amesphoto.com.