The Rangefinder Ad
As the ad in Rangefinder magazine says “A model wearing a red gown in the sweeping architecture of Atlanta’s High Museum of Art becomes a one-of-a-kind photograph thanks to a one-of-a-kind lens the Sigma 8-16mm f4.5-5.6 DC HSM ultra-wide-angle lens. Its angle of view is almost 122º and gives remarkably distortion free results. I shoot fashion so it was natural for me to look to that world to create a compelling photograph that would really put the 8-16mm through its paces.
I wanted to test sharpness, color rendition and see for myself what distortion the lens would produce at 8mm. I set out to find a location and since it’s full-on summer in the South; HOT’lanta was living up to her nickname. There are some amazingly beautiful, verdant spaces here. The problem is the extreme upper ninety degree temperatures with humidity to match. The humidity only increases when the afternoon thundershowers pass through. The location had to be indoors. Otherwise the model and crew would be thoroughly soaked if not by precipitation then for sure by perspiration and most likely both.
The most difficult part of any shoot like this is the idea. The rest is straight forward. Photographing interiors has been a part of my career so I went to work remembering and researching spaces. I wanted a singular structure that was fairly neutral in its color palette. It had to be grand and preferably well known. Like the solution to a lot of creative challenges, I slept on it nodding off with the question of “where would be the perfect place?” the last thing on my mind. Sure enough the perfect place popped into my head the next morning… the High Museum of Art! This Atlanta landmark was ideal. The next step was getting permission and support.
The Woodruff’s vice president of Marketing Virginia Van helped get the clearances needed by putting me in contact with Nicole Taylor the assistant manager of public relations for the High Museum of Art. She and I emailed several times before permission was granted.
During that time, I contacted Kitty Bundy one of Atlanta’s premiere talent bookers at Stewart Talent to help me choose the perfect model… Jessica Cascaes. Next, stylist Martha Gill and I spent hours pouring over looks before going shopping to pick the perfect clothing and accessories.
Nicole explained the High’s requirements… that the shoot take place on a Monday when the museum was closed, that the High be credited for each use and the we pay for security. After all a museum can’t have photographers with big equipment cases loose in the galleries. All of the makeup and hair had to be done in the first level’s restrooms. No sweat. Professional photographers are flexible and accommodating. Nicole arranged for us to have three hours to shoot.
Everything was planned so that there would be plenty of time to shoot the hero outfit… a red column gown from St. John along with matching heels by Guess and high karat gold jewelry from Starr Moore and Associates (firstname.lastname@example.org) that perfectly matched Jessica’s hair color. I made these photographs with the camera less than four feet in front of Jessica. Amazing.
I lit Jessica with a Dynalite bare bulb head in a 22” Mola beauty dish equipped with a honeycomb grid to create a soft spot light effect on her face. Fill was a with a Dynalite recessed head aimed into a 72” by 72” Chimera diffusion panel. Each of the heads was plugged into a separate 1000 watt-second Dynalite Roadmax power pack. The fill was half the power of the beauty dish.
I balanced the electronic flash with the sunlight streaming in through the skylights of the High Museum that illuminated the interior space. The aperture of the 8-16mm zoom was set at f11 to control the amount of flash. The shutter on the Canon 7D was at 1/125th of a second to bring the interior of the High in slightly darker than Jessica’s face.
With moments to go before our time was up, I moved the camera with the lens still set to 8mm closer; so close I could reach out to position Jessica’s face and arms without taking my away from the viewfinder.
After not quite a dozen portraits, Martha handed her an Italian opera mask. I zoomed the lens into 16 mm then another quick ten exposures and the session was over.
Huge thanks here goes to makeup artist Donna Stazzone, stylist Martha Gill, my amazing digital assistant Theresa Sicurezza and Paul Copeland for shooting 5D video. No photographer could ask for a better crew!
I’ve got to tell you that this lens is everything a photographer using an APS-C format camera would want in wide angle coverage. It’s wide… make that really wide. It’s sharp. It’s produces great color. And it’s very low distortion.
To see more of Kevin’s work, please visit amesphoto.com