I thought it might be fun to gather some of my favorite images created with Sigma’s 24-35mm F2 DG HSM | A lens I created in 2016. This wide-angle perspective is a fun look for me when shooting portraits. There are so many elements that make for a great image and perspective is one of them. As a portrait artist I’m always experimenting and trying to create a “unique look,” something that will separate me from my peers. Using a different lens forces me to see differently. The added value of using a lens like this is being able to photograph in small spaces and still capture the whole scene. I have found no distortion in this lens at any aperture, which is extremely important to me given that I like to shoot wide open. This is one of Sigma’s “Art” lenses and is f 2.0 at all focal lengths.
In this image of Lauren, I was shooting in an old elevator shaft. My lights were set up behind me and I was standing about 6-7 feet away from the back wall and my subject. The window above her gave me the additional light I needed to back light her hair. What I love about photographing this way is I am able to capture the inside of the walls, creating a tunnel like effect which adds to the overall look that I wanted given her expression. Had I backed up any farther, I would have been standing on the edge of the Hallway. I specifically chose this location to showcase what this amazing lens can do. Not too mention to create a very fun image.
Next, I decided to try an aerial perspective. While photographing inside of an old warehouse in Augusta, Georgia, I found myself wandering upstairs trying to find a different angle to capture my subject, Sarah. When I looked down and saw the opening and the wonderful dynamics of the tiles and the design it created, I decided this would be the perfect angle. My only light source was from a large window, so I decided to place my camera on the railing for support and opened up my aperture all the way to f 2.0. Then with my shutter speed set to 80, I used my ISO, set to 2000, to give me the much-needed light for my exposure. The Sigma 24-35mm F2 DG HSM | A is a lens that focus’s very fast. What could have been a difficult shot under the circumstances ended up being a very easy one. The image is beautifully sharp even at that distance. Setting up my subject against the blue wheel draws the viewers eye to her. The change in the color of the tiles from black to orange also forces the eye to the subject.
What I love about creating portraits with a wide-angle lens is my story includes the background as well as the individual. When I’m visualizing the entire scene, I am using all the surroundings as you see in this image with Amanda. The length of the stairs adds to the depth of the lines taking the viewer into and out of the image. Depending on the aperture, which in this case was set at 3.2, the sphere of sharpness was small and was directed at Amanda. As you move through the image, the stairs start to soften adding to the painterly look. This is why I love the open aperture effect. The sharpest point in the image is my subject and everything else has a slight softness to it. I prefer to do as much as I can “in camera” to create that “other worldly effect”. When you look at this image, you see Amanda first, but then your eye moves directly up those stairs. Your eye will always focus on the sharpest part of the image with contrast of colors also playing an important part.
Usually when I am photographing I will have a priority setting whether it be my aperture or my shutter speed. In this case, I wanted my aperture set at 4.0 to give me a larger sphere of sharpness. Then I placed my subject into the light and turned up my ISO to 500. My subject, the fence and the wall are sharp with the fall off of softness affecting only the inside of the room behind her. This way the room acts as the framework for my subject and is not too distracting. If everything in your image is sharp, your viewer doesn’t know where to look first. When I’m shooting portraits, my priority is always the subject and the scenery is secondary. Alexis’s position and angle to the light is really what this portrait is about. Her expression says it all.
Perspective is so important when you’re telling a story about an individual. As much as I love creating portraits with my longer lenses, I also appreciate the wide-angle perspective that includes scenery and background.
In this final image, I found myself photographing on the balcony of my hotel room with very little room to move. Because the weather had forced us inside, I used Sigma’s 24-35mm F2 DG HSM | A lens to capture the entire scene. I had plenty of light and wanted to stop the action of my subject and her skirt as it was flying up in the air. I also wanted the window reflection and the railing in focus, so I set my aperture to 5.6 and my shutter speed to 500. To round off my exposure, I had to set my ISO to 1000. In this case, different from my other wide-angle images, I wanted everything in focus. With the exception of the back wall, all my other elements were on the same focal plane and therefore were all sharp.
The glass of the window behind my subject had a goldish tinge to it so I decided to process the image in Black & White. That way there is no distraction when you look at the image. Once again, I was able to capture the entire scene including a full reflection and the railing. When designing this portrait, I wanted all those elements in the image. It’s as if she’s about to jump off the edge… or even better, take flight.