The right lens for the job.

This is a portrait of my friend, Jennifer.  We were kidding around in the studio and she ducked into her ski clothes. I thought it was a fun look for an August day in central Texas so I asked her to step in front of a big chocolaty brown and beige canvas backdrop that we used to keep set up at the very back of the old studio on San Marcos St. and I snapped away with my favorite camera and my favorite tight portrait lens.

The camera was a Hasselblad. You can tell by the two little indentions on the left side of the frame in the black surround. Each back has notches on the left side so you can quickly tell which back your film from. Helped if one of your backs developed a light leak...

The lens was/is one of my all time favorites, the Carl Zeiss 180mm f4 for Hasselblad. It's wickedly sharp and has no weaknesses I know of. The 150mm Sonnars flared if you had direct light hitting the front element. The 180 also focused tight enough to get an uncropped headshot like the one above.  

If you do the mumbo-jumbo math of equivalence then this lens is the same angle of view as a 90 on a full frame 35mm camera and a 60mm on an APS-C camera. I tend to linger around this focal length for most of my work but with the APS-C I've settled into two different portrait lenses.

One my Alpha cameras (Sony a77 and a57) I like using the 70mm Sigma Macro 2.8. It's one of the sharpest lenses I've found for the cropped frame camera and the more I use it the more I love it. I'd use it on my Nex-7 if the size discrepancy wasn't so enormous....

On the Nex-7 I turn to the wonderful and elegant 60mm 1.5 Pen FT lens which covers the format with no corner darkening and, stopped down one or two stops, is sharp in a kind way. Three stops down and it becomes a dermatological pore discovery tool. Too sharp to keep friends posing on a regular basis. 

I'd like to think I'm the master of all focal lengths but to be honest really wide angles just baffle me. I don't get it. Who would want to include so much stuff in a shot? Really.  And the long stuff is fun to play with but in the end, monotonous. I'm right at home from the normal 50mm focal length to just about 135mm (all focal lengths based on 35mm FF). Go outside this range and I'm outside my comfort zone.  Interesting to think that one's choice of subject and then focal length are so important in setting a personal style. But there it is...

An Amazing Video of Steve McCurry Making the Pirelli Calendar in Rio

And watch how he uses hand held LED panels and larger LED panels on stands as his light sources. It's a great video and a beautifully done project:


Warning!!!! great images of fully clothed women.

Note: Steve McCurry is an extremely well known National Geographic photographer whose work in Afghanistan (inlcuding the iconic woman against the green wall) made him world famous.

Hit this link for an interview. When you see the top photo you'll know exactly which image I was referring to: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/100best/multi1_interview.html

Lots of amazingly talented people out there. He's one.

Thanks to ultra observant VSL reader, Gerald, for the heads-up on this one. Well done.