It’s mid-August in Austin with the usual 100 degree weather. It’s also Fashion Week and if memory serves this is the 4th annual event. I’ve traveled so much and shooting urban landscapes and street photography that I’ve been out of practice doing portraits. I wasn’t even paying attention this year and the event crept up on me. A quick google search revealed that I missed Saturday’s events but there were still more to come. I was all ready to kick back and enjoy the closing ceremony at the London Olympics and I decided at the last minute to go do some Fashion Show photography.
I headed over to “The Salon at the Domain” in the fancy faux city like development in North Austin. I was a bit late and the “The Inside Stitch” fashion show had already started. I dusted off the Canon 7D, the external speedlite and the 18-135 lens and started shooting. I also brought my Canon 50mm f1.4 and the Olympus E-P3 with the 20mm f1.4 attached, just in case. I shot a few, the show ended and I was fumbling around. As my regular blog readers know, I’ve been shooting primarily with my Olympus Pen cameras these days. My Canon was used only on occasion for some weekend kid’s soccer pictures, but that’s about it. I’ve definitely gotten rusty.
It probably took me about 10 minutes to remember all the buttons and settings and to get the bounce flash working properly. The shots with the 18-135 didn’t fit what I wanted. I tend to use this lens for long runway type fashion shoots but for individual portraits, it didn’t do the trick. I swapped it for the 50mm f1.4. The Canon 50mm f1.4 is not a very sharp lens wide-open, but it does have a nice dreaminess and extremely shallow depth of field (DOF) even on the cropped APS-C sensors. Perfect for blurring out all the background distractions at this salon. And after looking at these images, I’ve fallen in love again with these shallow DOF portraits.
The Olympus Pens have a smaller sensor so the DOF is not quite this shallow even when I use the Olympus 45mm f1.8 lens. After shooting with the Pens for a while, I forgot how shallow even a APS-C sensor is when shot with a 80mm equivalent lens at f1.6 or so. Perhaps the new Olympus 75mm f1.8 might have a similar look but I wasn’t going to spend $900 to find out. Especially since I already have my Canon 7D with a decent collection of lenses. I managed to focus decently on the eyes and got a level of sharpness that satisfied me. Maybe all the stars aligned tonight because its not always easy for me to get accurate focus at this DOF. I’m also happy with the fill flash exposures I got. I’m glad that after the many months of limited use, I was still able to get the 7D to do what I wanted.
I did notice that after shooting with the micro 4/3 format for a while, I really now dislike the 3 by 2 format of the DSLRs. They really don’t work well with most portraits. The frame is generally too long, I find. The 4 by 3 works great for portraits and I got used to it. I struggled somewhat to get a composition I liked with my Canon. For the first 2 portraits, I cropped it to 4 by 3 format in post. The last image I kept at 3 by 2 since the slender form of San Juanita seemed to work better. All and all, not a bad first outing. I went to a second Austin Fashion Show location after this one which I will talk about in a future post.
It was a fun night and perhaps I will go to a few more events this week. Life is not all street photography and urban landscapes. And as much as I like my Olympus Pens, its fun to break out the other cameras for time to time. Remember, each camera has its strengths and weaknesses. Using the right one aways make it more fun and easier.
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