My friends at The Photo Frontier have a new research project going on called WE35.
The goal is to use only a 35mm lens (or equivalent) and to document various things that come up in scenarios.
So I decided to take my first project and put it into full effect during Thanksgiving. I knew I would have about 30 family members and friends that would be willing to let me make funny photos of them. So that’s what I did.
I put my 35mm lens on my Nikon D810, put on a Nikon SB800 flash and a ring light adapter. I have two of them:
- Ray flash (It broke shortly after buying it, but still works)
- Orbis (Requires additional parts to mount to the camera)
The camera’s settings are as follows: ISO 64, 1/8000 shutter speed and f/2
The camera was set to high speed sync so that I did not have to worry about any backgrounds. I only used the one light as well, which meant that the subjects I photographed are only being lit by the ring light. The end result a pitch black background and high contrast light on the subjects face. This effect brings out texture and color.
The beauty of the ring light is also the super fun reflection in the eyes.
So throughout the Thanksgiving dinner I asked each person to “step into my office” so I could make a photo of them.
Here are some of my thoughts and findings from the research:
- 35mm is very close for portraits, which professional photographers already know.
- 35mm is not a very good portrait lens, which professional photographers also already know.
- Seeing reactions to portraits that close is interesting. Some people get really into it. Some get scared out of their minds.
- The ring light is so bright and close that it scares them. That forces me to photograph at least 3 frames.
- 1st so they know what’s happening
- 2nd with a straight face
- 3rd with a funny face
- Shooting in a darker room lets their pupils dilate, so I bring them into the darker room first and talk for a little so their eyes adjust. Then I make the photo.
- The first flash makes them squint and pupils close which is another reason to do the 3 frames.
- People realize what’s happening and they make funny faces which many times is the best one.
After making these portraits I have decided to keep the tradition going. So I’m happy to introduce the Faces in 35 project. I will continue using the same setup for each portrait so each photo is consistent.
If you’d like to see more from the Faces in 35 series please visit the full gallery here.