Monsters of Portrait. The Sigma Stars. Sigma 85 1.4 and the new debutante Sigma 135 1.8. Eri, Laura, and Caroline.

Sigma has been producing revolutionary lenses which has competed with the big guns: Canon, Nikon, and Zeiss.  Sigma created quality and sharp lenses at significantly lower costs (though their newer lenses are creeping up a little in price).  The Sigma 85 1.4 art and even more so the Sigma 135 1.8 art lenses have been long awaited by photographers.

I have used the Sigma 85 Art side by side with the Canon 85 1.2 L II lens.  The Sigma 85 Art lens has been able to keep up with the bokeh monster.  The Canon 5D Mark IV rejuvenated my Canon EF 85 1.2 LII and now I see that this lens is super sharp with great bokeh!

Meet Eri. Leighton Meester look-alike but great in her own right.  Eri has great personality and huge potential to be a star.  She is an actress and world-traveler at heart. She was wonderful to shoot with and gave us her own unique look.  This was shot with an 85 1.4 Art lens at f1.4.  The sharpness at f1.4 is incredible and the bokeh is definitely super nice as well.


The subject isolation and background blur is creamy.  This was also shot at f1.4.  Why do I shoot at 1.4?  Because I like it!  LoL.  I like the character of the photos rendered with shallow depth of field.  There is a time and place for shooting at smaller apertures but my style has been to shoot dramatic images.


Eri and the Sigma 135 @ f1.8.  This one is obviously posted in BW.  Subject isolation and bokeh are wonderful.  The AF is fast and accurate right out the box.  I bought the lens right before the shoot!


Meet Caroline.  Model.

Also meet the new Sigma 135 1.8.  The lens is super sharp.  The bokeh rendering is quite good too.  The next three photos were shot with the Sigma 135 Art lens.  I know have a Sigma duo that will be when I shoot portraits.  Its the Sigma 85 and 135 Art.

RONM7462RONM7535 aRONM7507

Meet Laura.  Very young Paraguay model.  Ginger and sweet.  This was taken with the Sigma 85 1.4 at f1.4 with the 28 inch Speedbox/CL200x from Godox in Central Park.  Sharpness is good and the bokeh looks very creamy.



Macy and Lena. Monsters of Portraits. The Canon, the Sigma and the Nikkor. Portraits with the Canon 85 1.2, Sigma Art 85 1.4, and the Nikkor 105 1.4E.

February 18 is the first warm Winter Saturday we were able to resume shooting portraits this 2017 in NYC.

Perfect time to test out two new lenses and an old favorite.  For this shoot I used the new Canon 5D Mark IV, the Canon EF 85 1.2LII, the new Sigma 85 1.4 Art lens, and the Nikkor 105 1.4 lens using the older Nikon D800.

My friend Shirly suggested we use our normal shooting grounds in  Central Park West.  I was initially concerned there would be no trees to add to shade and dimension, but the pond reflection and beautiful natural light in general were perfect for the shoot.

The Canon 5D Mark IV is Canon’s newer iteration of its 5D line.  A lot of reviews online bash this camera for not being innovative enough.  Well, I am extremely happy with the camera.  Specs wise it doesn’t seem to be much jump from the Canon 5D Mark III, but after using it, all of the new features overall feel like this is a totally new and amazing camera.  This is my current favorite so far, out seating my Sony A7RII for now.

Meet Macy.

Canon 5D Mark IV  EF Canon 85 1.2LII USM @ f 1.2 // 1/5000s ISO 125  //XPLOR600

Macy is an amazing model.  She gave me all the looks and poses I wanted, sometimes almost reading my mind and posing with just a little non verbal hint.  The first photo is using the EF 85 1.2.  I used  strobe from either Cheetahlight or the XPLOR.  The strobe is manufactured by Godox and rebranded by Cheetah/Flashpoint.  I was able to shoot in bright day using hypersync.  Hypersonic allows you to shoot higher than the native flash sync speed of your camera.  Canon 5D Mark IV syncs natively @ 1/200s.  All photos were edited in my normal workflow.  I had a hard time before focusing my 85 1.2 @ f1.2.  For some reason my 5D Mark IV brought new life to my EF lens and most of my shots at 1.2 were razor sharp.  When I compared the sharpness to the supposedly almost as sharp as the Otus lens Sigma 85 1.4 ART lens, the EF 85 1.2 was comparably as sharp.

Canon 5D Mark IV Sigma 85 1.4 Art Lens @ f 1.4 ISO 100 //  1/3200s  //XPLOR600

The Sigma 85 Art Lens is a beautiful crafted lens.  It is also beefy and heavy.  Pairing the lens with the Canon 5D Mark IV felt well balanced.  The lens is sharp at 1.4.  I primarily shot at the widest apertures as I love portraits with very shallow depths of field.  I feel that the lens renders images quite well.

The booked from this lens is creamy as well.  Shot below is a different view with the same focal length and aperture.

MACY 5.jpg
Canon 5D Mark IV Sigma ART Lens 85mm 1.4 @ f 1.4 // 1/3200s ISO 125


Nikon D800 Nikkor 105 1.4 @ f1.4 //  1/4000s ISO 100 // XPLOR 600

The Nikkor 105 1.4 lens was sold as the bokeh machine, the cream maker, and super sharp.

Well.  Its true.  I found the Nikkor 105 1.4 to be sharp even at its widest aperture.  The portrait above was shot with my aging Nikon D800 (Nikon please release the successor to the D810!) and Nikkor 105.  I shot Macy using similar lighting methods and equipment during the shoot.  The image was processed in photoshop in my normal workflow.  Needless to say, the Nikkor 105 1.4 delivers.

The image below is of Lena Kreschuk.  She is a favorite and regular model for us.  The Nikkor 105 was used in this shot.  The background was obliterated into cream.  This shot was done with diffused light.  I had help from Shirly and Bryan, my two best shooting buddies.  In addition, the Nikkor 105 was sharp at f 1.4  It would be difficult for me to decide which lens is my favorite.


Nikon D800 Nikkor 105 1.4 @ f 1.4 // 1/5000s ISO 200 // Natural Light with Diffused/Reflected sunlight

More shots below with equipment information.

lena-1Canon 5D Mark IV EF 85 1.2LII US // @ f1.2 // 1/2000s ISO 125 //  Natural reflected and ambient lightmacy-3-2-logo

Canon 5D Mark IV EF 85 1.2LII USM @ f1.2 // 1/5000s ISO 125 // XPLOR 600

Canon 5D Mark IV Ef 85 1.2 LII @ f1.2  1/5000s ISO 125  


Lena in Fall. Sony and Zeiss Beauty.

The NYC  Marathon is tomorrow.


We met with Lena in the Columbus Circle area close to Central Park.  The preparations are on the way for the NYC Marathon.  The fall colors with the hustle and bustle of the city mixes with the nice weather.

We initially shot in the underground area but ventured out to find the fall golden light.

Sony A7RII Zeiss Batis 85mm

I used the Sony A7RII with the Zeiss Batis 85mm as always.  I didn’t have my lighting equipment but thought a reflector would fill in.  I was able to get different lighting this time.  I shot against the sun with the reflector filling in some of the shadows.  The above photo was natural lighting model facing the sun.  Most of the other photos had the reflector on.


This photo above is my favorite of the set.  I love dramatic photos.  A models expression lends to the power of an image.  Light and composition enhances the images emotion.  dsc05677

I love black and white images.  Lena was able to convey the type of mood I wanted to express in these black and white images.  It can be difficult to take photos without other people.  The sense of isolation and self is expressed here.


This last photo was taken in landscape format.  A great portrait is captivating by the eyes that capture yours.

Enjoy the fall photos.  More to come!

Anna Belis. Miss Portugal -Tourism Universe. My love affair with the Zeiss Batis 85.

Sony A7R II Zeiss Batis 85mm @ f1.8 1/400s ISO 80

I have been meeting more people to work with on Instagram.  I find that more creatives in my art share, produce and collaborate in this social medium.  I rarely get requests from pageants.  I actually wasn’t sure if Anna’s account was real at first.  But, thankfully she was a real person who was not only beautiful, but talented (master ice skater), friendly, and was a pro in front of the camera.

My use of the Sony A7R II and the Zeiss Batis 85 has been well documented in my blog.  I truly love this combo.  Lately, I have been shooting with the Sony system and the Canon 5Ds with the 200 f2 L IS USM.  The two systems combined give me the best images of art.

I am primarily a portrait photographer and the focal lengths of 85mm and 200mm give me the best images.

Sony A7R II Zeiss Batis 85mm @f/2.8 1/200s ISO 100
Miss Anna Belis sent me a message on IG, saying she was Miss Portugal Tourism Universe and loved my work.  I took her up on her offer to collaborate and a day later we were shooting in one of my hidden spots in Central Park.  My good friend Marlon Clarke tagged along.
Sony A7R II Zeiss Batis 85mm @f2 1/200s ISO 80

I use the Cheetahlight 360 and use a clam-shell type lighting for the majority of my portraits.  I feel that this lighting gives me the best over-all look and feel in a photo.

Canon 5Ds EF 200 f/2L IS USM @ f2 1/400s ISO 400
This last photo is from my Canon 5Ds and the 200 f2 lens.  I want the  new 5D Mark IV.
It was a pleasure working with Anna.  Please follow her on IG.
More photos to come!

Sara. The Start of Fall.  Zeiss and Canon portraits.

We met up with Sara Allison at one of my favorite spots in the city, Central Park West. 

Sara is a wonderful person with a golden, warm singing voice. She’s an actor and performer, as well as a friend to one of our previous portrait subjects.

My current set up has been a dual system between Sony and Canon lately. I have been using the Sony A7RII with the Zeiss Batis 85 and the Canon 5DS with the Canon 200 F2 L IS.

For my lighting I use the Cheetah light 360 with a 42″ reflector.  For the image below, I used the clamshell type lighting but at a slight angle.
The following shots have been done with the Canon 5DS and the 200 F2L IS. Notice how the background just disappears into a creamy veil. This set up is particularly great for portraiture. The lens is quite sharp and the 5DS renders beautiful images with high pixel counts for absolute detail.

Anastasia. Coming to the End of Summer; The Sunflower portraits.

Canon 5Ds 200f2// f2 1/3200 ISO 320

We’ve always wanted to do a Sunflower themed shoot.  Our images for inspiration were of a damsel in a summer dress frolicking in a sea of yellow Sunflowers.

We did have our beautiful model, but we had more sun and heat.  The sunflowers had started to wilt and instead of metaphorically raising its head high, they were faced slightly down.

This didn’t stop us from enjoying the view and taking beautiful images.

Canon 5Ds 200 f2//f2 1/2000 ISO 125

Our featured model was Anastasia.  She has been a great model who’s always given us great images.

For the shoot, I used my Canon 5Ds with the 200 F2, and the Sony A7RII with the Zeiss Batis 85.  I love the combo which I have been using frequently.

Sony A7R II Zeiss Batis 85 F1.8//  f2 1/2000 ISO 200

With the sun bearing down on us with full force, we used a 42″ diffuser to tame the light.  Times like these we wish we had assistants to hold equipment.  Having a larger diffuser would have given us more coverage.

Sony A7RII Zeiss Batis 85 1.8// f1.8 1/1600 ISO 400


We found some shade in a corner before the corn maze.  We found some wild flowers and did some portraits.

Canon 5Ds 200 f2// f2 1/2500 ISO 250

Bees and insects were plentiful.  But that didn’t stop Anastasia from giving us her best looks.

Canon 5Ds 200 f2/ F2 1/2000 ISO 320




Gillian. Canon 200 and the Zeiss Batis 85, Portraits.

DSC03559 BW Logo
Sony A7RII Zeiss Batis 85 @ f1.8
Meet Gillian.

Our youngest aspiring model, pre-med student and genuinely nice person.

We met with Gill in Soho, one of my favorite places to shoot.

For this portrait shoot, I used the Canon 5Ds with the 200 F2, and the Sony A7RII with the Zeiss Batis 85.  The Canon 5Ds hasn’t seen as much coverage as the 5DsR is more in the spotlight for its “sharper” image output.  Using the Canon 5Ds has been a great experience leaving my more than capable 5D Mark III benched.

The Sony A7RII is the second body I used.  I have been using this Sony camera for a while, and while the Canon 5Ds has seen more usage lately, when I do use the Sony, I am reminded on how well this camera is for portraits.  The Zeiss Batis took a small back seat when the Sony 85 1.4G came out.  I still think that the Zeiss Batis 85mm is a great alternative to the more expensive G master lens.  I feel that lighter and smaller lenses on a smaller body makes sense and solidifies my reason for buying a smaller system.

Canon 5Ds // Canon 200 F2 @ f2
The Canon 200F2 is a great portrait lens.  The background compression and sharpness are amazing qualities of the images this lens produces.

Sony A7RII // Zeiss Batis 85 @ f1.8
The Sony A7R II continues to amaze me with the file quality and amazing images.  The Zeiss Batis widest aperture is at f 1.8.  Even though there are other 85’s which have apertures of 1.4, the Zeiss does not disappoint and still renders images with that dreamy look for portraits.

Please enjoy these portraits, as I have more portraits, images and projects to come.