Sigma’s new 135mm 1.8 Art lens is one of the fastest and sharpest telephoto prime lenses I’ve ever used. It auto focuses extremely fast thanks to the Hyper Sonic Motor and it locks onto the subject without having to hunt while focusing.
My usual go to lens for portraits is Sigma’s 70-200mm 2.8 lens. It’s been a workhorse lens for me for over 6 years. Long lenses are typically used by portrait photographers because of how the lens can compress facial features when shooting further from the subject. The result is the facial features, like a nose will stick out less. Overall it flatters the face. With the introduction of this new Sigma 135mm 1.8 Art prime lens, I may have to replace my Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 lens.
My clients demand for movement and motion in my imagery sets the standard for a lot of the commercial portrait work I do these days. This amazing lens allows me to move along with my subject and capture their actions while staying sharp as a tack in the process. The beauty of this style of shooting is after the lights recycle; I can refocus quickly and move to the next shot. This allows me to capture the motion and stop the action as you can see from these images. The focusing elements on this lens are smooth and quick and quiet, pretty much seamless.
Stopping down to F11 creates perfectly sharp images with enough depth of field to keep the entire subject in crisp focus, I locked my shutter speed in at 1/125 and ISO at 160 off metering tests. For me to work creatively and capture the money shot, I need my equipment to function as an extension of my body. All my concentration goes to the subject and what I need for my client.
In this case, I was shooting for a Fall Fashion Salon Ad in one of Atlanta’s largest magazines. These are full-page ads and they need to jump off the page. Movement in the imagery creates a feeling of excitement and gives the image life. Most people will pick up a magazine and just thumb through it. What makes you stop and look at any image in a magazine are the subject, the light and the colors. We purposely choose a white background with a multicolored red and yellow dress to grab the viewer’s eye. Adding motion on top of that will help to stop the viewer from moving on and maybe even read the script that will then cover my beautiful image. I try as hard as I can to leave space for the script when creating these ads, but I can honestly say the thought does not occur to me when I’m in my creative space.
There are so many ads in a magazine to look at, and my job is to make sure my client’s ad draws as much attention as possible.
Having a lens like the 135mm 1.8 makes my life so much easier when I’m in the studio and shooting with movement. I like to work fast and shoot a lot. I don’t have time to worry about constantly changing my settings or changing lenses. Having a 135mm prime lens to work with in a situation like this is really poetry in motion. You can see so much detail in these images and with the flowing fabric from her dress which was designed with several panels of fabric, we were able to really let our subject move freely as I followed along. A large fan helped to create even more movement as she turned over and over.
For more of a Hair and Makeup shot for the Salon, I moved in closer to my subjects face. You can see the outline of my large soft box and all the light in her eyes, unbelievably sharp. You can actually see the white light in her blue eyes and count her eyelashes.
For this final shot of the day, I took my subject outside and changed my settings to F1.8 s 1/640 and ISO 160. The Bokeh, or blur that you see in the background is enhanced by the 1.8 open aperture. That shallow depth of field accentuates the sunlight coming through the trees. When I create portraits outside, I’m always looking to soften my background so that the sharpest part of my image is my subject. This allows your eye to rest on what’s most important in the image. The background is merely a framework. This lens used wide open at F1.8 is perfect for creating that dreamy soft background.