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The 24-105mm Art Lens: A Storytellers Dream

©  2014 Melanie Myhre
© 2014 Melanie Myhre

By Melanie Myhre

Photography for me is more than creating a pretty picture. It’s about telling a story and transporting the viewer to another time and place. The idea that anything is possible if you can dream it is a re-occurring inspiration in my work.  If I can create and capture a fantastical scene in our own reality without compositing in Photoshop, I feel that I have succeeded in preserving a little wonder and hope in our world, even if that scene existed for just a brief moment.

I wanted to create something surreal, haunting and mysterious.  A forest at twilight seemed like the perfect setting for a dark fairytale. A friend had just given me 30 white feather boas to make a perfect fairytale dress.  I sewed them into an elastic waistband for an overskirt. The underskirt was made from white satin sewn into elastic and cut into 3 inch strips to allow for more freedom of movement.  I created the bodice from a plain white corset found at a thrift store.  A hot glue gun was used to attach beads, paper flowers, and jewels.  By the time the dress was finished, it looked like a flock of chickens had exploded in my studio!

Earlier in the week I spent a day dragging tree branches through the forest and propping them up on a dead tree to create a three-sided shelter.  The day of the shoot I decorated it with silk flowers and vines purchased from a dollar store. We dragged a vintage armchair I had traded for down the hill to the set. The entire shoot cost about $30.

©  2014 Melanie Myhre
© 2014 Melanie Myhre

I knew we would need a light source to shoot at twilight.  We ran 200 feet of extension cord into the woods to power a Smith Victor 500 watt halogen light. I brought my Canon 430EXII speedlight  fitted with a Gary Fong diffuser in case a little fill light was needed. Now, I know what you’re thinking, but you’d be surprised at how well you can make things work in a pinch! I set my camera white balance manually to tungsten range, about 3400 K. The flash was set to about 1/3 power and I used it sparingly. Utilizing it this way, I didn’t have any ghosting in the images or odd color casts. I was able to tweak the skin tones additionally by color toning in Alien Skin Exposure 5. All the images here are shot at  f4 1/80 sec, ISO 320. This allowed me to achieve sharpness and preserve the ethereal softness I wanted.

©  2014 Melanie Myhre
© 2014 Melanie Myhre

I shoot with a highly creative perspective and as a result, some of my methods are a bit unorthodox. I think in the end it’s the journey and the finished product that matters, not the path you took to get there. I have a resourceful nature and a strong artistic streak. I’ve gone through some pretty tough times in recent years that have taught me how to work on a shoestring budget and be creative about creating.

©  2014 Melanie Myhre
© 2014 Melanie Myhre

My goal was to do as much as I could in camera, but I knew by shooting at twilight I was probably going to have to make a few concessions. There are a million different ways I could have lit the scene if given an unlimited budget, but I wanted to illustrate that you don’t need a bag of high-end gear to make great images.

Making smart choices to maximize your creative options is the key.  A good lens is worth its weight in gold.  Sigma’s 24-105mm f4 lens is one of those lenses. It proved its value as an art lens with stunning performance and quality. This lens gave me an edge that I would not have been achieved with a kit lens. The constant maximum aperture of f4 throughout the focal length allows for lots of flexibility. The large aperture is important to me as an artistic shooter because I like to shoot as wide open as the situation allows. Doing so lends that dreamy ethereal effect I love so much in my images. Everything about the lens spoke of quality and pride in craftsmanship right down to the lens cap and packaging. The lens was very solid with no noticeable lens creep, something that has been a problem with competitor zoom lenses in the past.  Focusing was fast and super sharp with an exquisite bokeh. I absolutely love the creamy skin tones that are so easy to achieve with this lens!  I have to say that the Sigma lens is definitely the place to put your money.

 

To see more work from Melanie visit:

Melanie Myhre Photography
Facebook page

Gear:

  • Sigma 24-105mm f4 Art Lens
  • Canon 60D camera body
  • Canon 430EX Speedlight with Gary Fong diffuser
  • 1 Smith Victor 500 watt halogen light
Comments (5)
  1. Melanie, we are kindred spirits with a love of storytelling. So beautifully done. Now THAT’s how you write a lens review Girl!!! Excellent

  2. Well done, Melanie. Lovely storybook lighting and you have a real talent in creating beautiful outfits for your models that lend themselves to the overall image. I admire your creativity. This sounds like a very handy lens to have on hand.

  3. rr says:

    Year gone releasing and we still wating sony version.. When sony, when?!!!

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