I bought myself a little birthday present over the weekend. Yep, it's the new Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f1/.4G... the long-awaited upgrade to the fifteen-year-old "Creme Machine" and "King of Bokeh". I know a lot of people aren't privy to buying a new product before... ANYONE has had a chance to try one out and work out the kinks, but alas, I love being on the bleeding edge of technology. Besides, lenses are engineered heavily enough that it's rare they have a factory screw up. Anyway, I've had a couple days to really ring this lens out... and it's... AWESOME. I can hear some of you asking "uh... it doesn't zoom? What's so cool about that?" Well... WARNING: <NERD> Skip to the photos if you aren't interested in the craft of photography. Prime lenses (lenses that are a single focal length and don't zoom) have several advantages over a zoom lens. Firstly, they are really sharp. It's easier for a lens maker to focus on one focal length making it perfect, than it is to make it that way at several different ones. Secondly, they can be "faster", which means that they take in more light more quickly. Part of being "faster" also means that they have a smaller depth of field. Depth of Field is when you see pictures that have a blurry background, but the subject is in focus. A smaller one has MORE blur (called bokeh)... which is what the "f/1.4" means. Thirdly, they are smaller and lighter. And finally, they generally produce more interesting photos. This is because it forces you to be creative. With a zoom lens, you can just stand in one place and move your zoom lens for different pictures... but this is only changing your "framing"... not your "perspective."... and perspective is what makes a photo interesting. With a prime lens, you have to move your feet to zoom. It's that simple. </NERD>
But enough talking, here are some photos I have taken with it in the last few days:
^It was getting really late and the sun was totally gone behind the horizon when we took this picture... not to mention that in order to get a higher perspective, I was standing, wobbling, and trying to balance myself on one of these fold-up chairs I pulled from out of the frame (so please, don't pixel peep... it was tough to get them sharp ;-))... But we did have three things helping us: 1. My Nikon D700 with its class-leading ISO capabilities, 2. That f/1.4 letting tons of light in, 3. The chairs. They were brilliant white and were reflecting around a whole stop (doubling) of light. Never forget that you can use anything as a makeshift reflector... chairs, tin foil, whiteboard, or even a white shirt in a pinch.
^Isn't that just an adorable dog? This exemplifies the fact that you should ALWAYS focus on the eyes. Doesn't matter if it's a dog or a human, but unless you are specifically focusing on something else for a different reason, the eyes is where you should be... which means start using manual AF points on your camera, so you can have control over where your camera focuses.
^Now, this last sample is a little unique. It uses the new lens, but it uses it 50 times. What I did is stand really close to my subject, and then I took several (91 in this case) photos of the whole scene, and then stitch them together afterwards to create this interesting look with the bokeh. The actual final cropped image ended up using about 50 of those images because I missed a lot of spots... but hey, it's called experimentation for a reason! It's officially called a "bokeh panorama" but is manytimes referred to as The Brenizer Method, since Ryan Brenizer was the first to go about publishing his results with it (as he admits he may not have been the first person to actually ever do it... but so far no one else has come forward).
Since I've been a little behind, I wanted to share a few pictures from Maddie's shoot last month. This was my first time using serious off-camera flash, and well, I think some of the results speak for themselves. The first two were taken in an alley about 50 feet from Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis. It was a bit scary, but I couldn't be more pleased.
^I love the seniors going for the modern edgy look!
^This was another way of getting good bokeh, and that's zooming your zoom lens ALL the way in. This was 200mm at f/2.8, which gives a bokeh equivalent of about f/1.8 on an 85mm lens. But longer focal lengths compress an image, making the background look closer to the foreground... and in this case, makes the lights look bigger behind her.
Oh, and let's not forget Taylor's wonderful shoot!
^This is an ultra-wide angle shot of Taylor and the infamous LOVE statue at the Indy Museum of Art. The IMA is possibly the most overshot venue in the city, but it is that way for a reason. So, I try my best to do some different things. Other than the exaggerated perspective, notice a trick I've done with this photo to make sure the LOVE statue was well lit by the setting sun... I'll give you a hint: Look at the NUMBERS statue in the background.
I've got some wedding photos to show off on the next update! As always, check out my facebook fan page for more up-to-date and frequent posts!