This month i wanted to do something for my hero and lifetime idol( yes I’m old, but i am trying to keep young so i have idols! ) David Bowie.
My first Vinyl was Ziggy Stardust, so incorporating the ”Flash” from those years and those characters seemed like something i would want in a tribute photo.
My wife also wanted a few new pictures for her websites so we played with a few ideas and locations before and what equipment to use.
I wanted 2 indoors locations and one outdoor location and decided on shooting the first pictures in our bedroom where we have a big window to let some background light inside.
I wanted all shots to look classic in style and the first one was going to have a blowup background and use one or two light modifiers from the front to light the face up so as not to get just a darker siluette of my wife.
This was one of the shots i was most pleased with, but my wife kept the ones where you could see more of her.
In the beginning i shot with my DF using the Noct to get a really shallow depth of field. Those shots became really light and beautiful and the blur started almost after her temples. The only light modifier i used in the ”airy” light shots here are a Rapidbox Octa from Westcott with a speed light and the natural light from the back, and in some shots i used a reflector from my right to get some extra catchlights in her eyes.
Since i do not have a proper studio i usually use the bedroom or my hallway which are the bigger rooms and space to put up the light stands and backgrounds if needed.
Also it tends to get very messy and chaotic with our kids running around at the same time, and sometimes we get them in for a quick picture as well since we got all that equipment set up which is a pain to take down again, so might as well be effective and take some pictures of them while it is up.
Here is a quick picture of my daughter who liked playing with one of my wife hats:
After that it was time for the Tribute picture which i wanted against a dark background. I also incorporated a Hat i liked for the shot.
It was quite hard to create a dark atmosphere in the room though as a lot of spill light was coming in through the windows, i tried shutting it out using the curtains and use the bigger background to block it while shooting.
After i had done the shoot and looked through the pictures i actually took the actual Ziggy flash and worked it into the picture( yes i cheated!) to get the feel i wanted, i realized we would not have time to take the makeup off to continue with the rest of the shoot, so that worked out better for us.
For this shot i also added another flash from the back as a hair light and gelled it with a darker blur gel which in the end added another level to the picture in my opinion and a little more drama.
All in all i was very happy with the pictures from the bedroom.
After that it was time to go outside. I had chosen a location not far from our house in a forest where i had shot my wife earlier a few times. It is a little secluded so you get the privacy you would like when shooting and putting up your gear.
It turned out to be a pretty difficult shoot outdoors though due to the cold damp weather and the race against the sun going down!
Also i wanted to try out a few new triggers from Phottix i had bought since the SU-800 was difficult to use outside as a transmitter due to the infrared getting blocked easier there.
As it turned out the Odin trigger was a little bit too big to fit under the flash when it was mounted against the Rapid octa softbox…Now there is the problem you run into when you have not tried your new stuff out in beforehand. It is always a treat finding it out the hard way during a shoot with a cold wife and the patience running out fast..
I improvised and got the trigger working and used my Noct and my 70-200 VR 2 for these pictures since it was so dark.
Really, shooting in the dark like we did was not something i would recommend. I had to crank the ISO way up but with the cameras nowadays it is still possible to get decent results.
I wanted something a little more creative in these shots so i decided to play a bit with some gels and the white balance to create some different effects.
This is how it turned out…
The softbox was gelled with a full cut of orange so the contrast became quite big with the white balance put to fluorescent . I kind of liked the effect i got.
So this was my Tribute shot for David Bowie. Now i am looking forward to spring to be honest, but i might do another shoot or two before the winter is out here in Sweden.
/Over and out…
So thursday evening and some time to kill made me think through what my next gear review should be. I am going to try to be consistent with only reviewing things i have actually used for a while, and actually like using. I will always try to review if from my angle, because the way i see it people having the same style or liking the way i shoot will be mostly helped from these reviews. I will not post a lot of technical details but rather give my impressions of the lens and what i feel are the pros and cons of it.
After reviewing the D700 and also the X-T1 which were both two pieces of equippment that i loved using, i feel that my next gear review will naturally be one of my favorite lenses.
Lets just state the obvious for people that knows the qualities of this lens that it is definitely not for everyone. First of all the price itself will put people off. I was REALLY lucky finding this on an auction and getting it for a price you normally would not find it for anywhere. Then if you actually do find it to a reasonable price there is the very specialized quality of the lens. Originally it was a lens for nighttime photography, and the way it renders lightsources like citylights or stars etc are very unique. It is also the fastest lens out there so it is a joy to use in lowlight in general.
Also the odd 58mm might be something to put people off, it is not a ”normal” length to shoot at, slightly short for portraits and alittle too long for street or architecture etc.
Still it has reached a sort of legendary status as a unicorn of lenses that is rare to find and very good to use. I read so much before i had the chance to shoot with it and knowing its characteristics in beforehand i jumped on the opportunity to try it when i at last got it.
Shooting mainly portraits i was dreaming about how the Bokeh would look on the Noct. And after shooting with it a few times i could right away it had something special none of my other lenses have. The way it renders the background when opened wide is just incredible. I know some people out there does not like the ”swirly” bokeh it gives. I love it. Also the character of the pictures that it produce is also so unique. It is a joy to use.
The look and feel of it is also like no other lens i have. The build is great, heavy and solid like an old tank!
Paired with my Nikon DF it feels like it was made for that lens alone. The pairing is perfect.
Balanced perfectly, and blend very well together, i actually have the black DF so it is not my DF on the picture above.
So what are the cons then you ask?
Well, it is manual of course being an old lens. So if you want something fast or modern it is not for you. Also it is a heavy lens for its size, that is actually a plus for me because i preferr the solid built to the new plasticky things they sell nowadays.
Also i use it strictly for portaiture. And if i need to shoot something else i leave it at home.
Or like a street/portrait lens. I sometimes take only that when leaving for a trip to town for example, the 58 lend itself to being quite versatile since its close to a normal. I would not say its the best architecture lens or the best tele lens or even the best normal lens though, as its very best characteristics comes out when you take portraits and make use of the Bokeh which is spectacular.
Also if you do not like the ”swirly” look of the Bokeh you might not like the lens either.
So why do i love to shoot with this lens?
Like with so many other things you just feel right away if it suits your needs. I can see why many think it is a fluke or a pretty quirky thing to get since of its pricetag and its very special use.
For me it really makes me want to shoot with it. I love using it, which for me in itself is a incredibly important thing. Also since of that very special look it makes the picrures very personal and stand out, and not many tools out there does that now in my opinion. So for that alone it earns a very special place in my photography heart.
If you have a chance to try it out, do it if you think it might be for you.
/Over and out.