Dan Howell's picture

Spring Bridal Fashion

February 4, 2017

I am lucky to have clients who allow for a little experimentation during a paid assignment shoot and will indulge my lighting experimentation. This shot is an example of what happens after I have an image covered in a conventional way and am allowed to play. The subject of this photo is the bridal headpiece so we had a little more freedom in posing the model. The image was created on a studio set.

For the conventional shot I used both a 6'x6' diffusion to the far left side and an extra large softbox on the nearer left side for a wrap of soft light at f11. BUT when I was given the freedom capture some images using only the 6x6 diffusion at lowest power which resulted in this image at f3.2. The diffused light from the left rear created the soft highlights that define her form and the shadows are controlled by wall of foamcor reflectors. The result is this image which mimics the look of natural window light and required very little post-processing.

Shot with Nikon D810 and Nikon 105mm DC lens.

105mm · f/3.2 · ISO 100
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John Keane's picture

Wonderful image. Bright, clean, great expression, background.

Anonymous's picture

Great photo. I hate to bring it up in this context but I was really surprised you used the 105 DC. I'd always heard how soft it is, especially on a D810. Does it hold up this well for headshots as well?

Dan Howell's picture

I have been very happy with the detail and resolution of the 105 DC. It quite nearly rivals the sharpness I get from my Zeiss Otus 85mm. Those are the two lenses I typically select on my fashion shoots with the 105 length generally better suited for when I am shooting waist up and closer. I feel like it is possibly more prone to flare in backlight situations than the Zeiss. I use it without the de-focus setting on almost every project. FWIW I also have the Nikon 85mm PCE which is also very sharp.

Prior to owning the Zeiss Otus (55 and 85mm) I considered the 105 DC to be the sharpest of my Nikon lenses. While I have used the DC function a bit in the past, I was not satisfied with the look of OOF areas compared to natural bokeh. On a typical project I would generally use the Zeiss 85 for the full length shots and only use the 105 for close-ups. I shoot bridal fashion for designers and they are critical about seeing details like lace or beading. I feel that the 105 delivers.

I don't intentionally do a lot of head to head comparisons with lenses, but I will try to remember to do one soon.

Anonymous's picture

Maybe folks experiencing soft photos is due to use, or extreme use, of the defocus feature (which is the point of the lens, anyway). I tried Nikon's 85 f/1.8, as I typically stay above f/2 anyway, but it didn't really "Wow" me. Zeiss lenses are out of the question since my eyes aren't nearly good enough to manually focus a portrait.

Dan Howell's picture

I appreciate the concern about manual focusing. It was a factor in my decision to get my first Zeiss (85mm f.1.4 ZF2). I wanted to stay in touch with manual focusing skills. What I ended up finding is that in the studio I can work just as fast since I generally need to keep a model within a defined area for lighting so I am not chasing the focus. Additionally I don't experience focus drift/auto-focus searching delay on low-contrast areas. I rely on the electronic focus indicator light inside the viewfinder as well for focus confirmation.

Regarding other lenses, if I didn't already have the 105 DC I would look closely at the new 105mm from Nikon. I considered getting the Nikon 85mm 1.8 which is supposed to be sharper than the 1.4 as an additional lens in that length for active situations, but having the Zeiss 55 and 85, Nikon 85 PCE and the 105 DC I have that range covered.

Graham Glover's picture

This is a wonderful photo, and she is stunning. Bravo!

Jacob Muller's picture

beautiful image