As a portrait photographer with clients all over the country, when I’m packing my bags to travel one of the first things I do is pre-visualize what I’ll be photographing and which lenses I need to pack. My first inclination is to have a telephoto or long lens, a wide-angle lens and a prime lens. This usually covers anything that may come up in regards to having the right equipment to do my work. For me, it’s not about one versus the other, but rather which lens will give me the perspective I need for my client along with the look I want to create.
Recently, I had an opportunity to travel south to one of the beaches of Georgia, Jekyll Island. The beaches here are outlined with gorgeous trees and filled with seashells and driftwood everywhere making it a perfect place for creating portraits. During the summer months it’s also about 96 degrees in the shade, extremely humid and very buggy.
The 50-100mm F1.8 lens is designed for a crop sensor making it about 75-150mm with an aperture of 1.8 at any length. So with my equipment, I set out to create some beautiful imagery in the heat of the day and was fortunate that my model was very willing to support my artistic vision. Together we worked quickly to complete our task.
I started my session with the Sigma’s 50-100mm F1.8 DC HSM | Art Lens. The driftwood was spread over the entire beach and allowed me to photograph in some much needed shade. Turning my subject away from the light, I set my ISO at 160. From there, my aperture was set 5.0 so that I would have a larger sphere of sharpness given my distance to my subject, and used my shutter speed of 250 for the perfect exposure. I prefer to shoot on Manual mode giving me complete control to the amount of light coming into my camera. Wow!!!! I focused right inside those beautiful green eyes and was delighted by the quality of sharpness and the fast shutter on this lens. You can see the fall off of sharpness behind my subject. This is a style choice to make it easier for the viewer to rest their eyes on what is sharpest and closest to the camera, my subject.
This next image was created just seconds after the first one only I zoomed out to a 50 ft. focal length to capture more of my subject’s body. The beauty of this telephoto lens for me is the ability to change focal lengths quickly, retaining the same settings and not loosing the moment. Because there is additional glass in this zoom lens, it feels solid in your hands. I found I could easily hand hold it without much effort for the entire session.
Changing my position for this next portrait, I had my subject turn her head into the direct sunlight and close her eyes. I wanted to showcase the perfect sharpness that this lens produces and highlight my subject’s beautiful skin. The bokeh created by stepping back and zooming to 100m, is near perfection even at an aperture of 5.0. The only setting I changed was the shutter speed to 1/1000th to round off my exposure. On a side note; it’s best to keep your shutter speed above the focal length of your lens to minimize any camera shake and maintain sharpness. So for the entire session, I kept my shutter speed at 1/250th and above.
Switching cameras and lenses to finish our session and capture some beautiful movement, I placed my subject into the light, stepped back and let this amazing dress take off in the wind. Whenever I photograph my storytelling images, I find myself using the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM lens with the 5Dm3. It’s fast, sharp and light weight. This prime lens has become one of my favorites. The perspective mimics almost what your eye sees. This lets the viewer feel like they are standing right next to you, seeing what you see. I set my aperture to f/6.3 for sharpness and detail in the dress as well as the driftwood.
In this next image and right before my model jumped into the water to cool off, I asked her to run down the beach. It may look like there is a lot of room here, but there isn’t. The rocks behind me blocked my ability to move back. With Sigma’s 50mm F1.4 DG HSM, I was able to capture the scene I wanted while suggesting to the viewer there was plenty of room. I had to shoot several images to get the one I wanted, the one with her feet off the ground. This is my favorite shot of the day.