Love at first click. I've just used the new (to me) Nikkor 135mm f2.0 lens in the studio for a commissioned portrait and I couldn't be happier. Can't you tell from the expression on my self portrait? (recent edit, additions).

Amazing what a haircut, a shave and a cup of coffee can do...
This is today's before and after selfie event.

I wrote about waking up with a vision of a certain lens in my mind and then finding that exact lens later in the day. It all happened last week. Was it just Friday?

I made sure the lens worked as it should over the weekend and then, this morning, I used it to photograph a radiologist here in my west Austin studio. I used the lens the way I intended to: with continuous lighting, camera and lens on a steady tripod, and the aperture of the lens nearly wide open. My results were right on the mark. I loved what I saw through the lens and was very happy upon examining the 47 different files on my 27 inch screen.

As a side note, I think the reason so many people are happy when they shoot portraits on a Nikon D810, is that the camera has so much dynamic range that, when shooting in the low to middle ISO range the camera delivers the kind of exposure latitude we used to depend on when using color negative film. This is especially true if you are shooting 14 bit, uncompressed raw files. The amount of information in the files is massive and the dynamic range is very good at helping photographers preserve detail in the highlights and shadows.

I lit the doctor's portrait with LED lights. I use a 6x6 foot scrim to one side, angled from right next to the camera to about four feet out from the doctor at the other end of the panel. Two LEDs were aimed at the scrim. I used a third LED light on the background (same background we've used for this practice for nearly 16 years) and, I was going to use a fourth LED light as a hair light but it turns out this particular doctor is bald so I turned that one off.

I used a silver reflector to the opposite side of the main light for fill.

I used ISO 640 on the camera and that gave me f2.8 and a half at 1/125th of a second. Just right.

When I took the glowering (not intentionally) self portrait above I purposely under exposed the background and took the fill reflector out all together. I also dropped the exposure on my face by half a stop. I did not take the portrait out of vanity but because I wanted to show what I meant when I said I like the focal length and the character of the lens, but I didn't have any great models lingering around the studio, just waiting to be cajoled into posing, so I took on the burden of representation myself.

The lens is quite sharp at f2.8. It is well behaved in every way. I, however, could use about five days of really good sleep, a haircut and a shave. A self portrait every once in a while has a way of humbling even the most self-delusional amongst us. Oh well....

(the beginning of my descent into the new Selfie Regime).


Henk said...

Great Selfie mr. Tuck. Is that War Paint, these stripes on your forehead and cheeks? :-) Just kidding!!!


Frank Grygier said...

Love the look of this lens and camera combination. I raises the bar on self portraits.

Michael Matthews said...

You might want to put a little more time into establishing photographer / subject rapport.
No, actually, it looks great. Including the hair.

George Bishop said...

I think the before is more warm and cuddly (approachable); the after looks a bit aggressive . . . . . . just IMHO :-)

Bill Stormont said...

I'll agree with George—the guy in the Before shot doesn't stand a chance against Mr. After. Maybe it's the Black Ops t-shirt.

Most importantly, neither look anywhere near sixty years old.

Fred said...

If I had that much hair on the top of my head I might not have had it cut so short.
And if I remind you that Ben will be home for Christmas in a few days will the next selfie have a bigger smile? :-)

Jim said...

I wouldn't call that a "selfie". Selfies are a distinct subset of self-portraits, done at arm's length, handheld and whatever light. Both these clearly have deliberate lighting and your arm is not extended out of the photo on one corner. These are definitely "self-portraits" of another order entirely. But then I wouldn't expect less of you.

BTW I liked the pre-haircut hair better.

Anonymous said...

Hello Kirk,
I like those two photos of Portrait Doctor very much.
Also appreciated is that you share the light set up.
Please would you be so kind to share a sketch of the light set up with those who are not so experienced with lights and not English native speakers, like me?
Many thanks

Chappy Achen said...

Personally I like your before, and I like the detail and texture (perhaps the exposure), Anyway I love the warmth and look of that first shot and Of course B&W! Chappy