Image Focus

Jan Tichy | Dancer

The girl in the image is a very talented dancer. When I shoot dancers or models, I just let them move and express themselves. I try not to give them too many instructions and instead, aim to follow and capture their emotion.

I always have a vision of the perfect light. Generally, I want it to be entirely on the subject’s face, landing in a certain way. This is when I provide small instructions as I can see what the subject cannot. But for this shot, the dancer already has an instinct for how to move, which offered me the freedom to keep shooting continuously.

The light, in this case, was two powerful LED lights with 120cm parabolic softboxes, which created a beautiful soft light. I took the shot with my Alpha 9 II and the FE 85mm f/1.4 G Master lens. The 85mm focal length is not an everyday focal length – it’s not like a 35mm or 50mm lens that you could carry with you and use every day. I love the 85mm because it has a perfect perspective for portraits, so it doesn't distort heads or bodies like a wide-angle lens does.

portrait of a lady holding her hands to her face

© Jan Tichy | Sony α9 II + FE 85mm f/1.4 GM | 1/1000s @ f/1.4, ISO 100

The image quality from the combination of the Alpha 9 II and the FE 85mm f/1.4 GM is excellent, as it helps to give everything in the frame extra focus. In this image, you can see how the detail in the eyes is super sharp. I use Eye AF for a portrait like this, as it is practical and works perfectly every time when I’m wanting to get the subject's eyes in focus. Sony’s Eye AF technology is second to none!

What I love is that there is still character and softness to the image. There's a beautiful, very soft bokeh, and the way that the 85mm G Master lens renders the out-of-focus areas, starting just behind the sharp areas is fantastic.

What I am looking for in an image like this is an attraction; something that draws me in, like I’m seeing it for the first time. So, I will often shoot a few similar compositions and examine them while editing. I focus on looking for that one thing that attracts me to the image, and I take my time when looking for that spark. It could be the eye contact, the lighting, the colour, the texture or even something in the composition. In this case, it is a combination of all these things, with an added extra – an aggressive crop that adds dynamic whilst simultaneously creating both tension and mystery.

The Alpha 9 II allows me to do what I want with my images. I'm usually happy with a single click – which you can’t always say with a camera – as I feel the Alpha 9 II can capture an image just like the way my eyes have seen it.

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Jan Tichy

Jan Tichy | Czech Republic

"Photography gave me the greatest gift – seeing the world with a unique perspective. There is so much beauty and magic around us that is worth capturing. Just keep searching for it and always be ready"

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