Head Shot Portraits thumbnails only

Kid Picture Kid Picture

The kid in this picture was caught in a great pose.

200mm  f/4  1/250s  ISO 200
A Quick Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art Lens Portrait A Quick Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art Lens Portrait

What would a Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art Lens review be without a sample portrait? The problem was that the schedules of my most-potential subjects were crazy and the weather had been mostly not very nice since the lens arrived.
When I saw my best opportunity, time was short, it was raining lightly and with the associated heavy cloud cover, outdoor lighting from the massive overhead softbox was very flat. Fortunately, the giant softbox makes lighting easy (and the f/1.4 aperture means that the low light levels were a non-issue). All that was needed was a form of shade to give some direction/shape to the light. I simply had my subject stand at the edge of a porch roof. The white columns and white window trim background was able to be melted away with the aid of the shallow depth of field this lens can produce.
The diffusely-blurred and neutrally-colored background does not compete for attention with the primary subject and the red scarf adds just a touch of Christmas color.
When capturing portraits with a very shallow depth of field, the closer eye minimally needs to be in focus. If the subject is looking directly at the camera, both eyes can be in focus, but if there is any other head angle, a decision needs to be made and the closer eye should get priority. At this lens' minimum focus distance with the maximum aperture in use, even the eyelashes will not be sharp when ideal eye focus is achieved. Pushing the plane of sharp focus to the closer iris or very slightly farther away will give the best look to the image (shifting focus slightly closer makes the eyelashes sharper, but the more-distant eye becomes even more blurred).
The camera height for this portrait was slightly higher than the subject's head angle. This camera angle keeps the subject's mouth (mostly) in focus (another desirable goal) and usually provides an ideal portrait look. Having the subject shift their head toward the camera slightly helps tighten the skin around the jaw line and un-squishes the neck area. At least for female subjects, I often ask for a slight head tip as also seen here.
The Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art lens is an awesome choice for portraiture. It makes a great look easy to capture.

85mm  f/1.4  1/250s  ISO 100
My Girls are Growing Up My Girls are Growing Up

My kids are amazing. Yes, I am of course heavily biased, but I sincerely hope that you feel the same way about your own kids.
Many of you comment about having watched my kids grow from tiny to what they are today, so I thought I would share a current group photo of them. Having the three girls together while they are dressed up and not having to run out the door because they are late for wherever they need to go has become a rare situation, so I jumped on this one.
Setup for this 5 minute portrait session involved grabbing a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens mounted to a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and positioning the girls just behind direct light streaming in a wall of windows. There is not a bad portrait focal length in this lens and the 100mm end gave me an ideal angle of view for this tight group photo even in tight quarters. I avoided background distractions the best I could while including enough to give the photo a homey feel.
My kids are growing up and so are yours. Growing up is of course what is supposed to happen to kids, but ... the growing up happens too fast – in a flash it seems from hindsight. So, I'll leave you with a parenting tip: You cannot take too many pictures of your kids (and grandkids I'm sure). Load them on a digital picture frame or computer in your home's living area to regularly relive those great times of life.

100mm  f/4.5  1/80s  ISO 100
What are the Perfect Zeiss Otus 85mm Lens Subjects? What are the Perfect Zeiss Otus 85mm Lens Subjects?

The perfect Zeiss Otus 85mm Lens subjects are people. An 85mm focal length results in a working distance that provides a portrait perspective similar to what you would commonly see when talking to someone with facial features not being distorted or overly-compressed. The f/1.4 aperture permits a shallow depth of field that removes background distractions. The incredible image quality this lens provides is the icing on the cake.
I'll contend that people are also the most valuable subjects available, both in terms of the value of those people and the returns available for photographing this subject. Finding paid gigs involving people is much easier than finding paid landscape, wildlife and other non-human subjects. Paid shoots are of course helpful in justifying the cost of this lens. Making portrait subject happy leads to great job satisfaction.

85mm  f/1.4  1/500s  ISO 100
Studio Head Shot Portrait Studio Head Shot Portrait

If you have a big softbox (or umbrella), lighting a headshot portrait in the studio is very easy. Simply move the light in close. Use the reflection in the subject's eyes to see the lighting angle used for this image.

200mm  f/11.0  1/160s  ISO 100
85mm Head Shot Portrait 85mm Head Shot Portrait

This head shot portrait represents the approximate minimum focus distance of the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Lens - a 0.12x magnification. Of course, an APS-C body is going to frame even tighter at this focus distance.

85mm  f/1.4  1/500s  ISO 100
Closeup Portrait Closeup Portrait

A tight portrait needs a longer focal length to prevent perspective distortion.

200mm  f/2.8  1/250s  ISO 160
135mm Head Shot Portrait 135mm Head Shot Portrait

When shooting tightly-framed portraits, it is best to use longer focal lengths to keep the camera far enough from the subject to get a nice perspective. A 135mm focal length works very well for head shot portraits on any DSLR camera.
Using a very wide f/2 aperture on this lens at this close focus distance means that depth of field will be very shallow. The good news is that the background becomes extremely blurred and that the viewer's eye is drawn to the in-focus areas of the image. The bad news is that keeping both eyes and the mouth in focus can be challenging. Here, I placed the plane of sharp focus so that it runs between the subject's eyes and across her mouth.
Lighting for this image was provided by large windows and a heavily clouded sky .

135mm  f/2.0  1/200s  ISO 320
Low-Cost Model Picture Low-Cost Model Picture

But definitely high end in my eyes! As I mentioned in the Canon EF 200mm F/2.0 L IS USM Lens review, my model budget was modest on this day ($1.00). The model acted as her own stylist to save funds. I think she did a very unique job. Lighting is ambient just under a patio roof with a reflector for fill.

200mm  f/2.0  1/60s  ISO 125
Head Shot-Style Portrait Head Shot-Style Portrait

If you are going to frame a person this tightly, you want to use a long focal length to retain a pleasing perspective. I used a 200mm setting for this studio head shot.

200mm  f/11.0  1/160s  ISO 100
85mm Headshot 85mm Headshot

85mm on an APS-C/1.6x body is a great focal length for head shot style portraits. With this lens, zoom out to 15mm and grab an environmental portrait at the same time.

85mm  f/5.6  1/80s  ISO 160
Smiling Head Shot Smiling Head Shot

When shooting a portrait with settings that deliver a very shallow DOF (Depth of Field), aligning the plane of sharp focus so that both the mouth and eyes are in focus usually works best. Want sharp hair and ears too? Use a narrower aperture.

85mm  f/1.4  1/500s  ISO 100
Cute Girl 8 Cute Girl 8

Patio roof shade once again delivers soft lighting to this young model.

200mm  f/2.8  1/250s  ISO 160
Red Highlights and Freckles Picture Red Highlights and Freckles Picture

Beautiful red highlights in this little girl's hair are framing the freckles on her cute face.

100mm  f/2.5  1/180s  ISO 200
Very Cute Little Girl Very Cute Little Girl

A very cute little girl with a Christmas tree in the background.

135mm  f/2.2  1/320s  ISO 100
Salty Girl Portrait Salty Girl Portrait

A headshot of a salty girl on the beach. I don't know what the hair braid style is called, but I thought she looked a little like Celia in Monsters Inc.
The close minimum focusing distance of the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II USM Lens makes it a great closeup portrait lens - even on a full frame body.

200mm  f/2.8  1/1000s  ISO 200
Young Beauty Picture Young Beauty Picture

A young girl admires her makeover in the mirror.

210mm  f/5  1/60s  ISO 800
A Naturally Lit Portrait A Naturally Lit Portrait

A benefit to shooting portraits in bright natural light is that the subject's pupils will remain small, allowing the eye color to dominate. The natural light sources reflecting in the subject's eyes may or may not be an asset.
When shooting tightly cropped portraits, I usually want the chin to remain completely in the photo until cropping extremely tightly.

135mm  f/2.0  1/320s  ISO 320
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