New Year’s Resolution: Avoiding Photographic Crutches

“Everything in the street today seems soft focus.”― Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting

For a long time after I purchased a (now discontinued) Canon EF 135mm f/2.8 Soft Focus lens I shot everything in soft focus. I thought I was going to be another Julia Margaret Cameron or at least her brother James Margaret Cameron.

But I quickly found out that I just being short sighted because over time I wished that some of my outdoor glamour photographs, like this one, were in sharp focus. Now I believe that soft focus and diffusion effects are best added after you’ve captured the image but I liked this subject’s pose on and wanted to share it with you. Here I’m using a wall to anchor her body but asked her to move slightly away from it and arch her back, which is always a good idea when shooting a subject from the side. She looked up flipped her right arm against the wall and I made the shot.

Then I made a few exposures with the model looking at the camera of which this is the best one but I still prefer the other shot where she’s not looking at the camera because there’s more drama in that photo. This image with her looking at the camera seems a bit forced and her head is at an odd angle. But hey, here are two versions and I am showing you both so that you can think about making variations during a shot and presenting both of them to your client.

Exposure was the same for both images: A Canon EOS 50D and the EF 135mm f/2.8 SF lens (at the #2 soft focus setting) but at f/3.2 (and ISO 200) unfortunately maximizing the effect. Shooting it at f/8 would have created a better shot. And by the way, EF 135mm f/2.8 SF is still eminently usable because it has a “zero’—no soft focus setting and acts just like a normal 13mm lens.

If you want to learn about avoiding crutches and cliches when photographing glamour models using available light, please pick up a copy of my book Available Light Glamour Photography. New copies are available on as well as affordably priced used copies as well as a digital version available for Kindle eBook readers.

Author: Joe Farace

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