Lighting the Princess – Going Simple High Key for the Prom
With 9 students planning to arrive for prom pictures within a short period of time, I had to be ready. The entire week preceding the big day was extra cloudy with lots of rain. The forecast for the Saturday afternoon shoot was calling for clouds with a 30% chance of light rain. Clouds would be perfect for afternoon outdoor lighting, the grass was very green and the new spring leaves on the trees were a great color for a background, but that chance of rain required a studio setup be on standby.
80mm f/11.0 1/160s ISO 100
Sitting on the Swing
When sitting on a swing, the ropes and hands holding them nicely frame the face. Light is from a cloudy sky. The 85mm focal length and f/1.4 aperture combine to completely eliminate the background.
85mm f/1.4 1/1600s ISO 100
Canon EOS R8, RF 135mm F1.8 L IS Lens, a Swamp, a Bridge, and a Subject
The location was the Magnolia Plantation near Charleston, SC., where the Spanish moss and its reflection provide a beautiful, non-distracting foreground and background that emphasize the bridge and model. Even at a relatively long distance, the 135mm focal length and f/1.8 aperture combination on a full-frame camera creates nice background separation, especially making the subject pop.
The R8 brings Canon's outstanding AF system and full-frame image quality to an affordable price.
135mm f/1.8 1/320s ISO 100
200mm f/2.8 1/250s ISO 100
Canon EOS R50 and RF 85mm F2 IS Lens: Outstanding Portraits Made Affordable
Put the Canon RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM Lens on the EOS R50, and you have an impressive portrait kit in your hands. The images produced by that combination belie the cost, as the R50 and RF 85 F2 are priced at the bottom of their class.
Support columns often provide a great portrait background. Their subtle toning and (usually) white color do not compete for attention. In this case, the model's head was framed within one column, with two additional columns completing the backdrop.
Add a background-matching white coat and the 85 F2's background blur to make the model's hair and face grab the viewer's attention.
85mm f/2.8 1/500s ISO 100
Canon EOS R8 and RF 14-35mm F4 L IS Lens at The Governor Thomas Bennett House
When I learned that the shooting opportunities were models in an old house, I grabbed three lenses.
My third chosen lens may not seem like an optimal indoor portrait lens, but the Canon RF 14-35mm F4 L IS USM Lens was selected to take in the old house in addition to the people — environmental portraits. The models were still, and the in-lens optical image stabilization made up for the not-so-wide f/4 aperture (and f/4 provided a nice depth of field).
All handheld images from this scene were sharp, but there was a bigger challenge.
When composing an image with straight lines running along all frame borders, a perfectly centered and leveled camera is often the best choice. Gaining that perfect alignment for this picture was a challenge.
20mm f/4.0 1/13s ISO 400
Athletic Graduation Portrait After Sunset with the Canon RF 50mm F1.2 L Lens
As I shared in The Sony a1 and FE 35mm GM Lens Capture the Exit image, the time allocated to this shoot was very short. To speed the shoot, three cameras with prime lenses mounted were in the MindShift Gear BackLight 26L. The Canon EOS R5 and RF 50mm F1.2 L USM Lens got the call for this scenario.
Noteworthy is that this image was captured handheld at "Civil End". If you are unfamiliar with this term, estimate it to be about 30 minutes after sunset. It was dark.
Utilizing the R5's IBIS kept what was not blowing in the wind sharp, despite the awkward and unsteady near-ground level shooting position.
Need a clean background for your portrait subject's head? The sky often works well for this.
Want to make your athletic subjects appear large? Using a low camera position often works well for this.
Merge the two concepts, and this image is the result.
The Canon RF 50mm F1.2 L USM Lens's ultra-wide aperture had a big role in making this image possible, and that feature held complete responsibility for the strong background blur. Despite the incredibly wide aperture in use, the background remains recognizable at this subject distance.
When the background is supporting the subject, being recognizable can be advantageous. When a high percentage of the image area is background, the importance of what is in the background is elevated, becoming critical to the overall image. Spend the time to search out supporting backgrounds for your engineered images.
While this image was captured at ISO 2500, my eyes were not keeping up with the viewfinder brightness increasing relative to the ambient lighting. Therefore, this image required +1 EV of brightness adjustment in post.
50mm f/1.2 1/30s ISO 2500
Girl with Canon Super Telephoto Lens
She is not quite tall enough to get the Canon EF 500mm f/4 L IS USM Lens off the floor!
130mm f/4 1/125s ISO 100
Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L II Lens Captures Senior Track Picture
Brianna, my high school senior, has had a very successful high school track career from multiple perspectives including having her name on three school records. This success did not come without a huge effort on her part, and we had discussed shooting a more-formal senior picture highlighting her passion for mid-distance running. Track season became busy and I shot many images of her competing, but time got away from us and suddenly we had only one evening remaining before she had to turn in her uniform.
30mm f/4.0 1/100s ISO 400
The Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens is Here – Time to Unleash the Ponies
The Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III Lens is all about speed and fast-moving subjects ideal for the 400mm focal length are scarce in my location right now. The race cars are all being re-built in preparation for the next season. With a layer of snow on the ground, outdoors sports are in the off-season. The ski slopes benefit from the snow, but the closest is hours away. The horses, however, are always ready for some galloping and provide a convenient subject for an AF performance testing session.
This American quarter horse's name is "Nugget", as in "gold nugget", referencing the coat color. "Gold" also reflects the parent's perspective of what it costs to keep a horse. The positive in this investment is that the kid's have had to do most of the horse maintenance work, teaching them responsibility and how to work hard. The horses are of course fast and fast makes them good focus performance test subjects. An added benefit of such testing is some nice pics of the kid(s), as long as the camera and lens perform well of course.
And to that matter, the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III Lens combo performed stellarly. They performed so well that they created a bit of a problem. It took forever to go through the well-over-2,000 images captured in this session as most were keeper-grade. With a great camera and lens, one's brain needs to be retrained to be OK with deleting really nice images. I keep telling myself that.
With steady lighting conditions (solid clouds), the setup for this shot was easy. Using manual mode, the shutter was set to 1/1600, a setting that I know works well for freezing galloping/cantering horse and similar action. The aperture was set to f/2.8 to let in as much light as possible and to create the strongest background blur possible. Having the shallowest depth of field possible also emphasizes the AF precision. The ISO was then adjusted until the snow was slightly overexposed, causing the brightest areas to blink while reviewing test images on the LCD. With the exposure locked in, I could concentrate on composition.
The AF mode was of course set to AI Servo (continuous) and the top-center AF point was selected with the surrounding points assisting (the horse bounces a lot, making it difficult to keep a single point on the rider's head).
While this camera and lens combination is handholdable, shooting it from a monopod is still more comfortable (especially for long shooting sessions) and doing so made tracking the subject easier.
Nugget was not moving very fast in this frame, but I liked the heavily-clouded sky in the background, making the subject pop with a bit of a high-key look. Note that snow is a great reflector and gives images a different look, usually in a positive way. I'll share other images of this horse in fast motion in the review. Some of these images will show another way this lens can make the subject pop – by strongly blurring the background.
400mm f/2.8 1/1600s ISO 400
Studio Portrait 2
The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 L IS USM Lens is a great studio portrait lens - especially on a full frame body. It has the best portrait focal lengths, great image quality, image stabilization (helps greatly with accurate subject framing), has very reliable autofocus and does not flare (very helpful when studio lights are aimed toward it). This portrait was obviously taken with studio lighting - here is an overview of the lighting setup:
100mm f/11.0 1/160s ISO 100
Find Out Where the Bumble Bee Went
My site-related work consumes most of my time and I gave up trying to process all of my images long ago.
After looking at all images and selecting down to my favorites, I just save all of the remaining RAW files and focus on processing my favorites and those that have other immediate value.
600mm f/4.0 1/1600s ISO 400
The Sony a1 and FE 35mm GM Lens Capture the Exit
The conversation (via text) went something like:
"Dad, can you shoot graduation pictures for me?"
Answering that question required no thought. "Of course!"
"Can I come down the day before graduation for that project?"
Later, I asked what time we can start.
"How long does shooting in 5 locations require?"
I replied, "Figure 15-30 minutes per location plus time to get to the next location."
Her reply: "15 minutes should be adequate."
Later, she says: "I can't be ready until 6:45 PM."
I quickly calculate the amount of time before the 8:14 PM sunset to be 1:29. That meant 15 minutes per location and 15 minutes total for getting to the next locations, which happen to be spread over a half-mile distance. You see where I'm going here — it was going to be a rushed shoot. Then she arrived 30 minutes late.
I foresaw the shortness of the time allocated for this portrait shoot and planned for shooting fast and for shooting in low light.
One of my overriding goals was to include a sense of place, to include background showing the university campus. This goal caused me to favor wider but still portrait friendly focal lengths as these angles of view would include more background and avoid unrecognizably blurring it. Still wanting to keep the subject standing out prominently (and wanting the shutter speed help for run-and-gun handheld shooting that would end in very dark light levels), I opted for wide aperture lens options. That these lenses were also among the best available from an image quality standpoint made the decision process easier.
Into a MindShift Gear FirstLight 30L went:
The 24mm lens didn't see much use, but having the other three lenses instantly ready (already mounted to a camera) enabled efficient use of the limited time. And, the image quality delivered by this entire kit was outstanding.
The a1 and R5 both feature outstanding eye AF performance. With the cameras set to the widest AF area (covering most of the frame) and people eye AF enabled, switching between camera brands was easy, and my primary job was to create the composition.
This shoot started with a grand exit, and the Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM Lens was called into play.
Here, the ambient shade light mixed well with the interior lighting brightness level.
Precisely capturing symmetry in a scene is a challenge even when not rushed. Ideally, the camera should be centered in the scene and horizontally level.
I worked with a variety of camera distances and roll angles, including fully leveled. From a technical perspective, I like the sides of the door frame parallel with the side of the camera frame. However, I kept coming back to this image as my favorite. The slightly lower camera angle makes the subject appear grand as she exits the doorway to this beautiful building. In addition, this camera position aligns the subject's head on a background window and includes the chandelier in the frame.
I hope to share images captured by the other mentioned lenses soon.
35mm f/1.4 1/160s ISO 100
Photography and family are tightly interwoven. A great way to have fun and get some great shots of the kids is for them to play dress-up and for you to take their picture while dressed-up.
244mm f/11.0 1/160s ISO 100
Newborn Foal Picture
A newborn foal (less than 1 day old) is getting aquainted with her owner while her overly-protective mother oversees the situation. This shot was taken from inside an 11'x12' stall. Lighting is from an open top half of a Dutch door and large overhead skylights.
16mm f/2.8 1/100s ISO 800
Little Princess Picture
A little princess playing dress-up. Lighting is from Elinchrom monolights and softboxes.
98mm f/11.0 1/200s ISO 100
The Canon RF 50mm F1.2 L USM Lens Look — Perfect for Grad Photos
I know, my daughter graduated from college a couple of years ago, but my image processing backlog is ... eh, maybe I'll share that number later. It's high. Anyway, I want to talk about portraits today, so I selected this graduation portrait to final process and share.
When capturing a portrait image, the goal is usually to emphasize the subject. Competing for that attention is everything else in the frame. While those additional elements are often not removable, they can be blurred to reduce the sharp lines of contrast that catch and pull the viewer's eye.
An outstanding way to accomplish the blurred background goal is to use an ultra-wide aperture, creating a shallow depth of field that leaves the background strongly out of focus.
Sometimes, a sense of place is desired for the portrait. The 50mm angle of view is wide enough to incorporate those identifying elements without magnifying them into obscurity.
Here, the subject's head is aligned between the two buildings to further reduce background distractions.
50mm f/1.2 1/1000s ISO 100
Running Above the Cloud
Running down sand dunes is great fun for kids - and makes for great photos. This sand dune is located in Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in southern Utah. I used AI Servo AF mode and burst drive mode to capture this shot.
105mm f/8.0 1/500s ISO 400
The Canon EOS M6 Mark II, a Model, and a Lamborghini Huracan
The background typically consumes a large portion of the image and what it looks like matters. When the background is a bright red Lamborghini Huracan, the background begins to vie with the subject for attention, at least for us car guys and gals.
In this scenario, I gave the M6 II's AF system full control, selecting servo AF mode with face and eye detection. With the camera very impressively handling the task of following the model's face and eyes, I could concentrate fully on composition and that was especially helpful when shooting in awkwardly low positions such as this one.
24mm f/4.0 1/125s ISO 800
It is hard to believe that I have my own senior to photograph this year. Shooting your own senior portraits has huge advantages including being able to take advantage of various times of the day, locations and outfits. It is also a good excuse to buy or rent various lenses to try out.
55mm f/1.4 1/60s ISO 100
The Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM Lens Rocked at the Concert
Credentialed access to a 4 hour concert in a 15,000-seat indoor stadium seemed like the perfect opportunity to give the Canon EOS R and Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM Lens a workout while the mostly high-energy performers also got a workout.
When photographing low light action, one historically had to choose between a moderately wide aperture (f/2.8) in a zoom lens and an ultra-wide aperture (f/1.4 for example) in a prime lens. With the RF 28-70, you can have both a wide aperture and a zoom focal length range. While some prime lenses still have the wide aperture advantage, the RF 28-70 f/2 L lens bridges the divide and, especially from an image quality perspective, is an outstanding option for low light needs including concert photography.
The spot lights happened to be on the singer (Ledger) in this image, allowing a very clean ISO 800 with a shutter speed adequate to stop most of the motion at f/2. Other images were captured at ISO settings as high as 6400 where the 1-stop advantage this zoom lens has over most other zooms makes a considerably bigger difference in image quality.
At concerts, the location of the action is often unpredictable and changing fast and that means focal length changes are required, ideally fitting for a zoom lens. Yes, some prime lenses could have given me another 1-stop lower ISO setting, but I would have minimally needed multiple cameras to cover the same range and often the performers were moving so fast that the shot would have been long gone by the time the cameras were swapped. Shooting wider and cropping later is an option, but lower resolution images are the result.
Also great for fast moving subjects was the R's touch and drag AF. With the left hand adjusting the focal length and the right thumb moving the focus point as needed for ideal framing, the EOS R was an ideal choice.
Every shoot teaches new lessons and here are a few concert photography tips from that night.
First, if photographing with a media pass, know without a doubt which gate you are supposed to enter through and be ready to politely ask for a additional opinions when the first person(s) thinks they know the different gate you are required to enter through. This saves walking half way around a stadium to the shipping and receiving area and waiting for a security guard to make a series of phone calls to figure out what you already knew and send you back to the other side of the stadium. If opting to ignore this advice, strongly consider arriving at least 1 hour early.
Also if photographing with a media pass, make sure that you have a signed copy of that pass (minimally on your phone) with you because the media reps for some reason may not have your name on the list. If offered a label with your name handwritten on it, request a lanyard because your camera strap is going to peel the label off within 10 minutes of your arrival, leaving you without the pass. Minimally attach the label to something that avoids the peel-off risk.
While your media pass may specify where you are supposed to photograph from, the media pass may not have been updated since the 360° stage was implemented. The specified locations may not exist and those working the show may have no clue about the topic or even how to get to the floor from the entrance level. Arrive early enough that if the instructions do not align with reality there is time to figure out where you are permitted to go without negatively impacting the show (it is probably not being performed for you).
Oh, if the tour is promoting a 360° stage, just get a ticket and leave the camera at home. Within seconds, the performer can be a basketball court distance away and even two cameras with complementing zoom lenses are not adequate. Compounding the problem is that you will have backs toward you for at least 270° of the stage.
I'll add these notes to the concert photography tips page.
28mm f/2.0 1/500s ISO 800
12mm Environmental Portrait and The Making of My First Selfie
I'm not focused on me, can be accused of under-marketing myself and until very recently, I had never taken a selfie (at least not one shared beyond the immediate family). Of course, when the request for a portrait came in, I didn't want to under-deliver on the effort and set out to have some fun, creating my first selfie. Since the task turned into a major project, I thought I would share some of the undertaking.
12mm f/11.0 1/200s ISO 200
For Great Backgrounds, Have a Mountaintop Experience
Mikayla wanted to go riding and I wanted to give the Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS Lens a workout.
Those "wants" fit together perfectly.
For this session, we headed to the top of a nearby small mountain.
With an unobstructed view and a low camera position, a very attractive, non-distracting background often becomes available in these "top" locations and that enables the primary subject to become prominent in the frame.
The sky usually makes a good background and distant landscape also works well in that regard.
128mm f/5.0 1/400s ISO 100
A Dog and Her Girl
A dog poses with her girl. Position your subject on the crest of a hill, use a long focal length lens set to a wide aperture and watch the background melt away. I didn't catch that she pulled her hat down (it was a very cold day), but I still like the shot.
300mm f/2.8 1/1250s ISO 100
Canon EOS R8 and RF 135mm F1.8 L IS Lens with Girl in Doors
When I learned that the shooting opportunities were models in an old house, the Canon RF 135mm F1.8 L IS USM Lens was a certain choice.
135mm f/1.8 1/50s ISO 500
The Canon EOS 90D and The Dream Garage
A Lamborghini Huracan AND a Kelly Moss Porsche 911 in the same garage? Those two cars are worth about as much as all of the camera lenses below the Conowingo Dam on a fall weekend. Yes, this is a dream garage and yes, there was drooling. With a 2.5-mile Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta just outside, my only question was "Where are the keys?!"
On this big day of test shooting, the Canon EOS 90D performed superbly, as its heritage leads us to expect. This is a superb general-purpose camera choice and while this particular scene did not challenge it, the subjects outside on the Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta track provided a greater challenge, one which the 90D also met.
24mm f/5.6 1/80s ISO 800
Canon RF-S 55-210mm IS STM Lens Portrait Sample Picture
152mm f/8.0 1/15s ISO 100
I Have Another Favorite Photo Subject — Introducing Elliott
Last fall, my oldest and her husband were blessed with a son, Elliott. Right, that makes me a grandfather, and no other word has made me feel older. If you have followed this site from the beginning (celebrating 20 years this fall), it might make you feel old too.
It was time for another round of Elliott pictures. Timing baby pictures, even for babies as adorable as Elliott (I admit bias in that regard), revolves around the short durations between eating, sleeping, and being fussy.
It was nearly noon when I got the "We're ready!" call. Outdoor pics were requested, and the available lighting was from a bright overhead sun. The good location option under this bright spotlighting condition is facing outward from just inside a shade, yielding a large, but directional, soft light. A patio was the choice for this example.
These pics were all about Elliott, and a sense of place was not important. The Canon RF 135mm F1.8 L IS USM Lens was my easy first choice. Especially with the close subject distance required to fill the frame with a baby, this lens easily turned the background into a strong blur.
The shallow depth of field produced by the 135mm and f/1.8 combination at close distances challenges a camera's AF system. With a DSLR, a significant percentage of always-moving baby pics with such a lens would be at least slightly out of focus, and getting a perfectly focused image combined with the perfect baby pose is difficult.
With the latest round of mirrorless cameras, the challenge has become selecting the favorite image to share (and having the fortitude to delete cute baby pictures to avoid overload). The Canon EOS R5 in servo mode with people eye detection AF enabled allowed me to focus on framing and shutter release timing. The camera's results were nearly perfect. Image selection was almost exclusively based on Elliott and I coordinating on the timing and framing.
Post processing primarily involved use of the drool and mulch removal tools. Check out how sharp this eye is:
Most results looked like this. Drool inspiring.
Hopefully you picked up a photo tip and felt the joy of this little boy.
135mm f/1.8 1/800s ISO 100
Barefoot Waterskiing Picture
With a competent brother behind the lens, you and I both get to see what I look like. Barefooting is my most-extreme sport.
400mm f/7.1 1/1000s ISO 200
Canon RF 28-70mm F2 Lens Takes a Wedding Party Group Photo
The Canon RF 28-70mm F2 L USM Lens is at the top of my wedding lens recommendation list.
Why? An ideal general-purpose focal length range combined with, for a zoom lens, an ultra-wide aperture, superior professional-grade L-series build quality, and excellent wide-open image quality are the top reasons for this choice.
In this case, 30mm provides a great perspective for a large wedding party group photo.
30mm f/2.8 1/500s ISO 100
Snuggling with the Colt Picture
A 1 week old palomino Quarter Horse colt sleeps on the lap of a very happy young lady. How cute is that?!
300mm f/2.8 1/500s ISO 125
The Backyard Lion
Mikayla (she's 13) decided to make a lion costume. After a week of diligent designing, a run to the craft store, lots of cutting and plenty of sewing, she had a very impressive made-from-scratch full lion costume complete with a stuffed tail that had a curve at the end of it. She created the best lion costume she possibly could and my goal was to capture the fruition of her effort the best I could, creating a memory to cherish for a lifetime.
200mm f/2.0 1/160s ISO 320
Hypothetically Speaking: Let's Say You Visit Your Daughter at College.
Hypothetically speaking: Let's say that you visit your daughter at college. She is on the track and field team but will not be running the time trial event occurring while you are there due to her having overtrained. You, of course, brought a camera kit, but without expectation of your daughter running, you packed light.
Upon arrival, you learn that she is going to do "a few laps." Fortunately, your light kit included the Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens, an impressive lens that is sports-capable, and you were able to capture some nice pics of your daughter on the track. Since you were actively photographing, you also captured some nice pics to share with her teammates.
The 20-fps drive mode meant that the perfect body position could be captured in every pass, despite the relatively short optimal framing window the 70-200mm focal length range offers. Perfect body position except that you were positioned near the starting line where your daughter glanced at her watch as each lap was completed. Eye detection AF meant the framing was the photographer's primary remaining job to be concentrated on during the race. Well, their primary job until having to process the over 1,000 in-focus images delivered by the Canon EOS R5's 20 fps drive mode in a short time.
The image quality at 20 fps was superb until the sun began to set. Then the flickering stadium lighting began to show some mild banding in your full electronic shutter images. Fortunately, only the last lap was affected by this condition (which could have been avoiding by using the still-fast mechanical first curtain shutter).
After the time trial ended, cool-down runs were over, and the team meeting was finished, your daughter says, "Hey Dad, can you take a team photo?" Your only valid response to this question is "Sure!" As you care about your images, you are not willing to make this a simple snapshot. That these kids have worked hard for years to make this team makes a good team photo especially important.
Your first assessment is the available lighting. This one is easy. The sun set a long time ago, and the only lights available (you did not bring strobes) are the four large stadium lights, two evenly located on each side of the field.
You know that the image background is very important and decide that the home stadium seating provides a clean, non-distracting background, along with giving the image a relevant location.
To get balanced lighting and a symmetrical background, you move the 19-member team down to the centerline of the soccer field inside the track. As mentioned already, and as is frequently the case, the stadium lighting was the flickering type. The Canon EOS R5 and R6 can avoid that issue for you, but a 1/100 second shutter speed is slow enough for the flicker to not cause a problem without using the flicker avoidance feature.
The team was very cooperative with great attitudes. Upon seeing how the double-cross lighting with the stadium background looked in the image review, the excitement increased, and additional photo requests begin flowing in: individuals, with friends, with boyfriends, with roommates, silly photos, tough and serious poses, etc.
The RF 70-200 was again the perfect lens option. The widest focal length is long enough to force adequate subject distance to eliminate group photo perspective issues, including the people in the front row appearing much larger than those in the back row (keeping the rows close to each other also helps in this regard). The individual and small group images were also easily captured by this focal length range.
Your dinner was late this evening.
After spending many hours processing and uploading the images to a private SmugMug gallery for the teammates to access, you wonder if it was such a good idea to take the camera in the first place.
Of course, it was.
OK, maybe I am not hypothetically speaking in this case. However, this scenario is a quite common one — be ready for it. Consider using the same lens and easy subject-on-night-sports-field strategy for your athlete subjects.
95mm f/4.0 1/100s ISO 1250
Portrait of Three Girls
Getting three young girls to get into a reasonable position for their group portrait is not easy. Studio lighting is provided by Elinchrom Digital Style RX Monolights.
111mm f/11.0 1/200s ISO 100
Girl in Leaf Pile Picture
A little girl plays in a pile of leaves.
42mm f/3.5 1/80s ISO 400
Your New Favorite Event, Portrait, and Indoor Sports Lens: Canon RF 135mm F1.8 L
Let me introduce you to your new favorite event, portrait, and indoor sports lens, the Canon RF 135mm F1.8 L IS USM Lens.
There are several reasons for this prediction.
The first is the focal length. The 135mm angle of view is narrow enough to encourage subject distances that create pleasing portrait perspectives, even for full-frame headshots. This angle of view also keeps the lens out of their personal space, staying distant enough for subjects to remain comfortable.
The ultra-wide aperture is another reason for this lens to be a favorite. The F1.8 aperture combined with high-performing image stabilization keeps shutter speeds up and ISO settings down for sharp, low-noise results. F1.8 combined with the medium telephoto focal length can create a strong background blur that makes the subject stand out from an otherwise distracting background.
If those two reasons are not sufficient for you, the image quality delivered by this lens will be. Even the preproduction lens produced outstanding image quality.
This mariachi band member performing at a low light event was a perfect subject for this lens and the Canon EOS R6 Mark II behind it.
135mm f/1.8 1/125s ISO 1250
A Girl and A Pony Picture
A little girl holds the reins to a just-the-right-size-for-her pony.
17mm f/2.8 1/125s ISO 200
Relaxing During Portrait Session
Keep your subjects relaxed even during formal portrait sessions. You will benefit from their enhanced expressions.
135mm f/11.0 1/200s ISO 100
A Little Girl in Sunglasses Picture
A little girls peers up behind her sunglasses.
55mm f/2.8 1/125s ISO 100
Portrait in the Grass
This is a very easy pose to make your high school senior look great. Simply find some grass being lit by a late-day sun and have your senior take on this pose. The slightly tipped head causes her hair to flow nicely. The crossed bare feet are framed just to the side of her head – but not intersecting her hair line. The jeans form a border around most of her visible shirt.
180mm f/2.8 1/250s ISO 200
Beach Sunset Portrait
This is a casual portrait shot as the sun set over the US east coast. The setting sun delivers a warm-colored light onto the subject while a little natural vignetting and a blurred-by-f/2.8 background combine to draw the viewer's eye to the girl. ISO 100 would have been an even better choice for this shot, but the 1/1000 shutter speed was being used to capture fast action at the time.
200mm f/2.8 1/1000s ISO 200
Blue-Eyed Girl Portrait
This cute little blue-eyed girl is posing just inside an open garage door. This is one of the easiest (and inexpensive) lighting methods for great results. Stand the subject just inside an opening (behind the direct sunlight) and shoot away.
200mm f/2.8 1/100s ISO 320
Firsthand Example of Why Backup Gear is a Requirement for Wedding Photography
I advised my daughter and then-future son-in-law that something would go wrong with the wedding and that they should be ready to adjust plans as necessary.
What went wrong started with my youngest daughter waking up at 3:00 AM with a fever of 101.7° F (38.7° C) on the day before the wedding. I was so sad for her and expected the virus to have her in its grasp through the wedding day and beyond. Fortunately, after many prayers and sleeping much of the morning, she was feeling much better the same evening and was able to enjoy the wedding rehearsal and dinner afterwards.
That rehearsal dinner afterwards (at our house) became the next issue. The food was all out and everyone was ready to eat (and hungry), but ... the rolls needed to hold the main course were missing. Apparently an assignment was missed and a 40-minute round trip to the grocery store ensued, resolving this relatively minor issue.
As I mentioned, I was (mostly) not photographing this wedding, but received a request to "just" set up a video camera. I assembled the gear I intended to use (multiple cameras, tripods, mic, sound recorder, Pelican cases, extra batteries, etc.) the day before (amidst plenty of other chaos) and ran a gear check late in the day. I planned to use the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II as the primary camera, recording the entire ceremony in 4k. Strangely, when attempting to record video with this body, all I saw was black. After checking for an installed lens cap multiple times and verifying that live view worked in the still photo modes, I resolved to call Canon CPS in the morning, hoping that there was some obscure setting I had missed. Unfortunately, the phone call determined that the camera had a failure of some sort (I was not surprised by that news) that was preventing the shutter from opening in video mode.
So, it was wedding day for my daughter and the primary camera I intended to record video with had failed. This is the perfect example of why a backup camera is mandatory when photographing weddings and other important events.
I had a 4k-capable Sony a7 III with a Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens, the focal length range I needed, sitting on my desk. That setup was untested, so I opted to double-record using a Canon EOS 5Ds R and Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens. I set up the two cameras immediately next to each other, one on a Really Right Stuff TVC-24L Carbon Fiber Tripod and BH-40 Ball Head and the other on a ProMediaGear TR344L Tripod with a UniqBall UBH 45X Ball Head.
A relative captured other video angles handheld using a Canon EOS 80D and EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens. Audio was recorded with a Tascam digital audio recorder positioned under the flowers near the pastor, on a Rode Stereo Video Mic mounted on the 5Ds R in the back (closer to some of the musicians) and in-camera on the other two cameras. The setups appear to have all worked great and there is plenty of audio and video available to assemble a nice edited movie.
While I had time to put together a revised camera setup prior to leaving for the wedding, that is not always the case with equipment failures. I had an additional camera and various accessories (including batteries) along to cover any on-site failures (OK, I had enough to cover any of the contracted photographer's equipment failures as well).
Then there was the tomahawk injury that required a trip to the medical center and 8 stitches on the groom's ankle on the morning of the wedding. Don't ask – but it involved fruit. I'll just say that there was little spring in the groom's step as he walked his bride down the aisle, but the wedding worked and I now officially have a son.
As I said, I was mostly not photographing the wedding, but ... the girls happened to be ready just before the official photographers arrived and I happened to have rolled paper on a background stand and two lights in softboxes (one large octagonal overhead, a medium-sized rectangle on the back/left) ready. I needed time to set up and dial in two more lights, including one on a boom, but with a very rushed schedule, I accepted a compromise.
Overall, the wedding was awesome. Thanks for sharing in my excitement!
70mm f/11.0 1/160s ISO 100
Checking Off Milestones: My Oldest Daughter, Brianna, is Getting Married Today
Mostly, this post is to let you share in our excitement and that sentence probably caught your attention with many thoughts potentially entering your mind.
200mm f/2.0 1/500s ISO 100
If you are planning to print/publish to a specific size, you need to be aware of how your camera's aspect ratio relates to that final size. Canon and Nikon's DSLRs currently have a 3:2 (width:height) sensor size ratio. Thus, an uncropped shot will make a perfect 4x6, 8x12, 16x24 ... (or any multiple of 3:2) print. A 5x7 print requires some cropping and an 8x10 requires even more cropping. This example crops very nicely to 5x7, but the cropping required for an 8x10 is a bit strong in my opinion.
93mm f/11.0 1/160s ISO 100
85mm is for Portraits
Portaits dominate my 85mm uses, and the Canon RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM Lens is a bargain portrait lens.
The wide f/2 aperture permits a strong background blur that does not compete for attention.
85mm f/2.0 1/500s ISO 100