A good combination, especially when you have the lovely, chameleon-like Thais D’Lima in front of the lens. Brazilian born, based in LA, and capable of many looks. The pic below is available light through a fence at the studio of my dear friend, Gianluca Bertone, who runs Bertone Visuals in Los Angeles. Wonderful photog, and his video/rental company is an amazing resource for west coast photogs.
She posed for this series during a time when I was able to experiment with the Nikon 58mm Noct lens, which pulls in, f-stop-wise, at a nifty, off the charts wide open value of .95, making it the fastest lens I’ve ever used. (Writing a bit about this session, as we just ran the above pic on our Instagram, and a few folks had some questions.)
Wide open, manual focus, DOF razor thin. Like the robot used to say in Lost in Space, “Danger! Danger!” But, there are tools to assist. I shot these with the Nikon Z 7, and in this mirrorless generation of tech we are graced with, I used the pinpoint mode of the focusing system, in tandem with focus peaking, to sort out and certify what my eyes were telling me. (With the pinpoint or single area in manual focus, the little box goes green when you hit it right.) Add to that the instantaneous one button push to 100% zoom, in the viewfinder, I could tell if my focus pull was accurate. Painstaking, to a degree, and certainly not a practical approach for many jobs, but the crystalline sharpness and dreamlike drop of DOF is worth the work, at least on this occasion.
Another strategy? I used a Gitzo Systematic on this shoot even though the lens is not over-long. But it does have heft. So tripod was the way to go, on a ball head, which I had loosely braked. I would pull a focus, and then literally rock ever so slightly back and forth at camera, all the while shooting on high consecutive on the power drive. That worked well, along with the acceptance I was not going to be tack sharp, all the time.
I did mention a variety of looks Thais can offer in front of the lens.
All thanks to Lynn DelMastro who produced this shoot, and Claire Piao, a marvelous makeup artist based in LA. We went from studio light and looks, to raw sun, all done at .95 on the Noct.
The light, the lens, the subject, the makeup, all swirl into different looks, done in a day. It was fun, albeit nerve-wracking, to play on the edge of the cliff called depth of field.
Incredible working with you Joe! You are an amazing photographer. Thank you
Wow, great images Joe. Using a .95 lens seems like a great experience, although I don’t think I could pull that off specially since I’m still in dslr territory, I’m just starting to get more skill when focusing with my 50mm 1.8 so I think .95 and manual focusing are still far away for me. Maybe when I can finally afford a mirrorless I could jump to a 1.4 lens.
Joe McNally says
All best back to you Thais! You are wonderful in front of the lens!
Thank you Joe for the nice words! That the day at the studio in February was the best creative day of the year 2020. I loved to see you in action with the challenge of focusing manually, I always admire the way you “direct” you talents and the incredible outcome that you receive back from all your models. I have attended more workshops with you that with any other photographer because you inspire people with your true stories and you’re not only extraordinary at what you do in your craft, but you’re a great man and a great friend. Hope to have the pleasure to assist you again in a photo shoot soon!
Pete Fontneau says
That close-up of her is incredible. Her eyes are captivating and her skin is so, so soft looking. Beautiful model, beautiful makeup, perfect lighting and a guy with a great touch. I enjoy your work. Thank you!