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.
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.