Photographing People with the Bokehmaster

Photographing people with the Sigma 105mm ART and not only at f/1.4

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted updates on my photographing with the bokehmaster. So, in this post I’d like to share a few thoughts on photographing people with the Sigma 105mm ART, in- and outside the studio.

A few things I’ve noticed so far:

Sigma 105mm ART is great for photographing people, in particular outdoors or in wide, open spaces. That’s because, oftentimes, these locations allow enough distance between lens and the subject, while providing a background that can be easily “dissolved” into a nice bokeh.

For example, here’s an image from a photo shoot with activist and award-winning performer, Rev. Yolanda, for A&U Magazine–America’s AIDS Magazine

Trans and HIV activist Rev. Yolanda photographed by Alina Oswald for A&U Magazine—America’s AIDS Magazine.
Rev. Yolanda photographed by Alina Oswald for A&U Magazine—America’s AIDS Magazine.

As I just mentioned, the Sigma 105mm ART can turn a busy background into an interesting bokeh, but, keep in mind that there are, still, a few limitations, including background colors, distance between camera and background, as well as between subject and background.

The Sigma 105mm f/1.4 creates, I think, a nice separation plane between the subject (in focus) and the background (out of focus). Again, it does depend on and can be limited to the space in which we photograph.

The bokehmaster also helps create tack sharp images. Word of caution, though: when shooting handheld, in particular when shooting verticals, because the lens is pretty heavy (about three pounds or 1.5Kg), your hands might get tired and start slightly shaking, especially at the end of a long photo shoot or a long day of shooting; that makes it difficult to steady the camera, and could lead to out-of-focus images, especially when shooting wide open at f/1.4.

Sigma 105mm f/1.4 for Nikon on tripod. Photo by Alina Oswald.
Sigma 105mm f/1.4 for Nikon on tripod. Photo by Alina Oswald.

Of course, using a tripod or placing the camera on a steady surface can help; that said, that’s not always an option. In that case, try taking breaks holding the camera, for example when moving the subject, change poses, etc. I use wrist supports, especially during long photo shoots.

While it’s great to be able to blur the background into a nice bokeh when shooting with a Sigma 105mm ART on location, it’s also good to remember that just because you can shoot wide open at f/1.4, it doesn’t mean that that’s the only choice available. That’s something to keep in mind especially when photographing a subject who’s moving throughout the shoot (dancing, performing, etc.)

When photographing in studio for assignments, I often end up not shooting wide open with the bokehmaster. For an example, check out my photographing NYC actor Adam B. Shapiro for A&U Magazine.

Actor Adam B. Shapiro photographed by Alina Oswald for A&U Magazine—America’s AIDS Magazine.
Actor Adam B. Shapiro photographed by Alina Oswald for A&U Magazine—America’s AIDS Magazine.

Here’s another example from my photographing author, ACT UP activist an public speaker Victoria Noe for the July 2019 A&U Magazine cover story. We shot mostly in my studio. We also stepped outside, on a very windy day, to take a few images. Here’s one of those images, shot at f/2.

Author, public speaker and HIV/AIDS activist Victoria Noe photographed by Alina Oswald for A&U Magazine, July 2019 cover issue.
Author and public speaker Victoria Noe photographed by Alina Oswald for July 2019 A&U cover.

And here’s yet another example from my photo shoot with artist, activist and author Avram Finkelstein for the June 2019 cover of A&U Magazine–I shot the last two images posted with the article against the same background, using two strobes and umbrellas, and with the subject approximately at the same distance away from the background; the first of the two images was shot with the Nikon 28-300mm at f/4 and the last image was shot with the Sigma 105mm f/1.4 at f/1.4 1/250s.

Artist, author and activist Avram Finkelstein photographed by Alina Oswald for the Pride 2019 cover issue of A&U Magazine.
Artist, author and activist Avram Finkelstein photographed by Alina Oswald for the Pride 2019 cover issue of A&U Magazine.
Artist, author and activist Avram Finkelstein photographed by Alina Oswald for the Pride 2019 cover issue of A&U Magazine.
Artist, author and activist Avram Finkelstein photographed by Alina Oswald for the Pride 2019 cover issue of A&U Magazine.

I’ll be able to share more images soon.

Until then and as always, thanks for stopping by!

Alina Oswald

  1. These are amazing! Many thanks for who you are!

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. It means a lot to me. Appreciate it, and also, appreciate all the work that you do, too. Thanks again!

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