Steven Brokaw Photography

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Nikon Is The Way, All The Way - A Place To Start

I get asked all the time, OK, OK not all the time but occasionally, what I for model photography, and what are my default camera settings.  I’ve mainly done editorial fashion and model photography for about 3 years.  As such I’ve found there are two lenses and a beginning setting I go to regularly.

I’m a Nikon user – why you ask?  I have no clue except I’ve used Nikon’s since I was a kid and I just stuck with it.  You’ll find the equivalent Canon equipment will generate the equivalent results.  Can’t speak about the opening settings however, since like I said, I’m a Nikon user.

Anyway, without further ado, I use the AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 G ED VRII and the AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 G ED almost exclusively.  If I had to choose between these 2 beauties, I probably use the 50mm 75% of them time.

I have a wide range of Nikkor lenses from 28mm to 85mm on the prime side, and zooms up to 300mm.  Almost all my lenses are in the f/2.8 or wider aperture.  I also have a number of Tokina lenses.  However, with these focal lengths available I still find myself going back to the 50mm & the 70-200mm all the time.

One of the reasons I like the 50mm is that it has lightning fast focus, and I tend to do most of my photos in the full length or 9x12 crop.   I zoom with my feet, and I have a studio with adequate space for moving around.  Also, the 50mm is lighter.  The rest of the time I use the 70-200mm f/2.8, but this tends to be for the head or head/shoulder shots.  I’ll occasionally step way back from the model and use the longer lens if I want and compression.

As they say on TV, your results may vary.  Others I know like the 85mm, the 105mm or primarily the 70-200mm f/2.8.   The main thing is to find what you like / what works for you and hit it HARD.  These two lenses are what I like.

Now, from a setting standpoint I default to a starting point.  Again, results may vary, but I ALWAYS start at the following default setting: manual mode, WB set to flash mode, f/9, ISO 160 and finally 1/160 for my shutter speed.  I use a Sekonic light meter and adjust my lights to this setting.  I adjust during the shoot from this starting point.  Two caveats, I shoot with a Nikon D600 full frame kit and I shoot probably 75% of my model photography in studio.

Throughout the session for get different lighting I adjust ISO first going from 100 up to 200.  Rarely more sensitive than 200.  I then adjust aperture next moving from f/8 through f/13.  Rarely wider than f/8.  I like a deep depth of field so I stay tight.  Also, this gives me a bit more leeway on my focal point.  Finally, I adjust shutter speed up to my Nikon’s maximum synch speed, but rarely slower than 1/125.  I never take it out of manual mode.

And that’s it.  Simple huh?  I have found that if I stick to these settings and lenses I can devote all my concentration on my model, the lighting and avoid chimping.  So my advice, find what works for you and work it.  However, if you want a starting point give these lenses and settings a go.

A lustful thing - the AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VRII.  

A lustful thing - the AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VRII.  

It's small but it does the job.  The AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G 

It's small but it does the job.  The AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G 

Nikon Speedlight & Amanda

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