Riding Shallow…

As I said in a very recent previous post, I’ve been shooting a lot lately.  The funny part about that shooting a lot is that I’ve been shooting a lot of super shallow depth of field stuff with my prime lenses (prime being single focal length) as opposed to a more normal F5.6-F10 for commercial Photography.  You can still achieve shallow depth of field at F5.6 to F10, but you need really long glass to do so.  I’ve got some awesome, Fast, Prime lenses that I absolutely love and the last few days or so I’ve really been using them quite a bit more than normal.  I can’t complain, and in the end the Clients couldn’t either.  I happen to like my Primes.

(Nikon D3s, 250ISO, Nikon 85mmF1.4D, 1/160th@F2.  Nikon SB900 Speedlight to camera right about 10′ shot through a 32″ umbrella set to iTTL +0.3EV.  Single SB900 with SD-9A Battery Pack shot through a 32″ umbrella in the back of the room to the camera right about 30′ set to iTTL +0.7.  Both Speedlights fired by Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 units triggered by an on camera Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 with a Nikon SU-800 Commander in the Hot Shoe)

So yea, I guess I’m the guy that shot most of the promotional Nursing home stuff here in Indy.  Well, maybe not most of it, but I’ve shot quite a bit of it.  Most of the imagery on the sides of the Crestview bus’s are mine, as well as I’ve done some of the  Miller Senior Communities marketing material.  I don’t know how many places like this that there are, but sometimes it seems like a lot to me.  That is especially when you end up seeing those images on the sides of busses, billboards, magazines, newspapers, bathroom reading material, the sides of garbage cans, and that stuff you put in the bottom of bird cages to college……..well you know…  For this last round of materials though I ended up shooting quite a bit of shallow depth of field, which as I mentioned earlier; is kinda weird for me.  My focus wasn’t on the residents in these shoots though, it was on the Nurses that care for them.  I was made very clear that was the focus of these promotional images and so I acted accordingly feeling that a very shallow depth of field was the way to go.

(Nikon D3s, 100ISO, Nikon 85mmF1.4D, 1/2000th@F1.8.   Nikon SB900 Speedlight with a SD-9A Battery pack shot through a 32″ umbrella held by Tom above the subject to camera left zoomed to 105mm set to 1/2power .  Nikon SB800 set to 1/2 power zoomed to superclamped to the same stand as the SB800 shot through the same umbrella. Both Speedlights fired by their own Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 unit triggered by a Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 Unit on the camera with an SU-800 in the hot Shoe.)

Some people mistake Fast glass (like the 85mm F1.4 in the shots above) for use ONLY in low light.  Far from the case actually because it can create an almost surreal amount of depth of field for a portrait.  During the few days that I spent at these different Nursing facilities even Tom mentioned that he thought I was shooting with my prime lenses quite a bit, and he was totally correct.  I love the shallow depth of field created by my fast primes even though I know full well that it’s not always appropriate.

(Nikon D3s, 200ISO, Nikon 85mmF1.4D, 1/4000th@F2.   Nikon SB900 Speedlight with a SD-9A Battery pack shot through a 32″ umbrella held by Tom above  the subject to camera right zoomed to 105mm set to iTTL +1.7EV fired by Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 unit triggered by a Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 Unit on the camera with an SU-800 in the hot Shoe.)

So yea, I really like my 85mm….. At least last week I most certainly did.  Well, or do.  Either way that’s an example of using that shallow aperture to create the milky depth of field background.  Using a 50mm F1.4, or using a 35, or 24mm F1.4 will give you a similar effect, but the depth of field isn’t as thrown out as with the 85mm.  They all have their places though, especially in my mind.  (Probably why I own the 85, 50, and 24….)  I’ve experimented with using my 24PC lens to create an epic depth of field also, but I have yet to refine that process.  I seem to like it, but nobody else does which leads me to believe that I may be doing something wrong.  Wouldn’t be the first, and I’m sure not the last time…  An example being this next photo shot at F1.4.  I love the depth of field, but the dogs are right on that fine line of out of focus to the point where I don’t like it.  The shot is exactly what the facility wanted though, which was their therapist holding the two therapy dogs.  Therapy dogs being something that this particular facility employs that almost ALL others do not.

(Nikon D3s, 320ISO, Nikon AFS 24mmF1.4N, 1/50th@F1.4.  Nikon SB900 Speedlight with a SD-9A Battery pack to above camera right zoomed out to 24mm set to iTTL fired by Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 unit triggered by a Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 Unit on the camera with an SU-800 in the hot Shoe.)

Were all of the photos over the last week taken at F1.4?  Definitely not.  I took probably close to 5,000 combined photos at the three locations that I visited and while I did tend to favor my primes for this project plenty of shots were taken at a much more commercial F10.  One thing is definitely to be said about shooting with Primes though.  My photo professor from Purdue never used to shoot with anything but prime lenses; always said they were sharper.  Turns out him  having been a shooter for 30  years meant that I should have believed him instead of playing cartoons in my head during class.  He’s gone to that large darkroom in the sky now, and I’m sure he’s probably laughing at me.  Not that I’m thinking of him, but now even after he’s passed I still shake my head and think, “Tim was right all along, and I should have listened the first time.”  Yet again.

More soon.