When photographing flowers, people often make the common mistake of trying to capture the entire flower even when there are distracting or unwanted elements in the frame. In many cases an arboretum or flower show do not allow tripods either…so what is the solution? The simple answer is to get closer! You don’t need to see the entire bloom and foliage to get your point across and macro lenses are especially well suited for this task. The image above of the Gerber Daisy is a great example of this philosophy.
With the lights this close to the bottle the focal length of the lens is critical to the success of the image. Normal or slightly wide lenses place the camera so close to the subject that controlling the reflection of the camera and studio stand in the bottle becomes an issue. For this set up I used the 150mm f/2.8 APO EX DG OS HSM macro lens made by Sigma. This focal length is perfect. The camera is well back from the set allowing room for working around the set both for adjusting the lighting and for adding to the scene. This lens is incredibly sharp and lens elements are multi-coated- it helps reduce flare from the lights and their reflections in the bottle.
Ok. I admit to being somewhat of a snob when it comes to the speed of the lenses I use. The list of my f/2.8’s includes the 120-300mm, 70-200mm, 24-70mm, 150mm Macro & 105mm Macro and a 15mm fisheye. For f/1.4 the list is all primes with the 85mm, the 50mm and the new 35mm Art lens. All of these speed demons are from Sigma of course.
So along comes the latest member of their new Global Vision lenses; the 24-105mm at what I thought was a not-so-speedy f/4.0…
In 2011 I released my first children’s picture book, CURIOUS CRITTERS, which featured close-up photographs of twenty-one animals. All the shots were taken with Sigma gear. The book really took off with children and families across North America. Within four months we sold out. To-date, we’ve sold over 100,000 copies.
When your job is to flatter your portrait subjects, you need as many tools in your photographic toolbox as possible so you are prepared for any features, and any ‘flaws’.
I think it is important to mention that I am not judging people’s appearance. As a fashion photographer, I often get to photograph what society considers “ideal” forms of beauty. What I notice time and time again, however, is that certain models’ “flaws” are what make them unique and memorable. In fact, there are several supermodels with so-called flaws like gapped-teeth, unusual noses, and more.
What matters is not what society says is ‘perfect’ but instead how your subjects perceives themselves. You want them to feel confident, attractive and proud of the images you provide them. You want to help them reduce anything they are self-conscious about and help their expression glow in their images.
Photographers, can you feel that excitement in the air? Do you see all the posts about it on social media? That’s right… WPPI is around the corner!!!
So what IS WPPI you ask? Here’s how it is described on their website:
About the Show
WPPI Conference+Expo is the premier industry event for photographers and filmmakers specializing in the creative and business aspects of wedding and portrait photography and filmmaking. Each year, nearly 13,000 professional and aspiring photographers and filmmakers attend WPPI to learn new techniques from industry leaders, build new relationships to grow their business, experience new products and solutions from major manufacturers to improve their productivity, and enjoy the many attractions in Las Vegas. WPPI is a week-long event combining educational seminars with a major industry trade show and networking events, all designed around learning the latest techniques, building new relationships and growing a business in a friendly, fun environment – all at one time, in one place.
As photographers, our job is to be problem solvers. We need to come up with visual solutions to a wide range of ‘problems’. Advertising photographers help their clients to express their brand and allure the target audience with their images. Food photographers must light and style the food to make any viewer’s mouth water. Portrait photographers must use the tools available to them to flatter their subjects.
While I consider myself a fashion photographer, a great number of my biggest clients are actually portrait clients including athletes, musicians, and celebrities. Together with my creative team we are helping them to express their personal brand through the images we make. These people are often NOT models or model-esqe. They have ‘flaws’ just like the rest of us, and my job is to help emphasize their assets and reduce attention to ‘flaws’.
I think one of the most important things I’ve learned in creating imagery with an impact is to anticipate what could happen next. I do this when I’m photographing children, although I never really know what’s going to happen, I do know that something will happen.
Early December I found myself in Oahu, Hawaii on the north shore of the Island photographing the Pipeline Master’s Competition. This is an International surfing competition that is by far one of the most exciting events I’ve had an opportunity to photograph.
Using Sigma’s 18-250mm lens, I choose a very fast shutter speed at 1/2000 sec, F9.0 aperture and then compensated for additional light with an ISO of 640. These settings were all geared to make sure that my images were tact sharp and that I could stop the action while still getting an almost perfect exposure. Sigma’s 18-250 lens responded perfectly to the fast speed I was using and even from that distance, the images were crystal clear. During the early morning hours, just as the sun was coming up, my settings varied from ISO 160-640. My aperture and shutter speed also changed from F 7.1 at the lowest to my shutter speed set at a minimum of 640.
I had the opportunity to spend a few days in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I was doing some presentations in Kalamazoo […]
Contrary to what many might believe, I haven’t been a photographer for all that long. It’s only been 5 years […]