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.
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr
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