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Get creative, change it up with a 35mm lens

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Most photographers reach for an 85mm or a 70-200mm lens when shooting portraits. These lens are great for compressing the image to help make a heavier subject look slimmer. Since this is the norm, why not try something different? Here’s how to get creative and change it up with a 35mm lens to capture a unique portrait.

Get close, I mean really close

While on break at a workshop, I collaborated on a portrait idea with my buddy Ray Nason. Ray — who was at the workshop representing the MAC Group — is the photographer we rely on for creative and technical advice. So, when I wanted to experiment with perspective distortion, Ray was more than willing to step in, offer advice and model.

The trick to get this creative shot is to use a 35mm lens and get close, I mean really close. Shooting slightly at a higher downward angle, Ray leaned in to help add to the warping or transformation, known as perspective distortion.

Edit to match the look

This portrait style is unique, so to match the look in post, I developed the image in Luminar and add some structure and detail to enhance Ray’s beard. Redirected the light with a Vignette Filter, then changed the color with the Color Temperature filter. I saved the settings as a new Look, then applied it to the remaining images. Once I had the base, I changed it up slightly on each image to see which one I liked best.

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Technical settings using a Tamron 35mm

On the technical side, I used a prime Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Lens on a full frame Nikon D810  — I think I’m falling in love with this lens. I started with an aperture of f/5.6 then tweaked it by adding a third of a stop to f/6.3 at 1/160s at ISO 200. We used speedlights and shot on a black background.

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Final images from the set

So, if you’re looking to add something a little different to your portrait portfolio, get creative and change it up with a 35mm lens.



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