My husband, Jay Wacker, isn’t a very good model, so I often end up having to model for my own shots at Mira Zaslove Photography while I’m experimenting with lighting. In this case, I needed a new headshot, so I was looking forward to this shoot.
This shot was part the series I talked about in the last few posts. Like the last post this was a taken with the Sony Carl Zeiss 135mm f/1.8 lens which is my favorite lens in my collection. I’m looking forward to the update of this lens that is finally coming out. I’ll have to see what the cost differential is to upgrade, though I’m in need of a high quality 50mm lens before then.
This photo was also taken at f/4.0 which is well within the range of apertures that this lens performs spectacularly in. I feel pretty comfortable with the lens in the f/2.8 to f/11.0 range and even at its widest open, f/1.8 the lens can produce beautifully sharp photos. With the Sony a99, you can sync with lights simply up to 1/250s, I shot this photo at 1/200s at ISO50.
There’s quite a bit of separation between myself and the background, may be 12 feet (4 meters for my European readers), and at f/4.0 you get nice focus over my entire body but great bokeh in the background. I like the bright red rose just peaking around and I’m not sure where the splash of blue is coming from.
This was a two light setup outside with a soft box and a speed light in a strip box. Like the previous hair light experiment, I kept the strip box close. The big difference here is that because I changed my stance so that I was dominantly facing the strip light. This effectively changes the strip light to the key light and makes the soft box the fill light/hair light. The hair light is doing a great job bringing out the high lights of my hair and the strip box is lighting my entire length evenly.
In the lighting diagram below, I’ve included a crop of the catchlights and connected them to the different lights. You can see that the strip light is very bright. Due to my stance, the soft box is just being caught in the side of eye. I included a similar shot that I liked of myself a bit more — just because I loved it, but the focus just missed.
When you’re new to lighting, the concept of hair light seems so irrelevant, yet it can make a huge difference between having a a photograph filled with life and a photograph which seems static.
In the recent outdoor headshot shoot, I worked to get the hair light just right for this LinkedIn profile. We wanted to get a verdant outdoor experience which is common in many current high end social media profile photos. To do this you need a pretty narrow depth of field. I opened up the aperture to f/4.0 which allows a pretty crisp focus over the entire face, particularly taking a wider field of view that shows the shoulders. I used a 135mm lens on a full-frame camera which is a flattering length for portraits and exposes less of the background.
I tried a near and a far hair/fill light coming in from the right. This changed how much light was caught by the hair and resulted in a subtle, but significant difference between the two photos. The subject was Asian has gorgeous hair and with the light shining on it, auburn highlights come out of it.
While we went with the photo for the further hair light because we didn’t like the jacket, the near hair light really added an element of life to the photo.