Image Focus

Marian Sterea | Big Black Hat

I took my inspiration for this image from the look of French fashion of the 1960s. I wanted to create an image that was very minimalist by design, an image that would flatter the subject’s femininity.

I shot the image in my studio in Constanta, and the model is actually a make-up artist that I’ve worked with before; she had exactly the look I wanted for the image.  We chose a clean cut, simple, stylish, black turtle neck, accessorised with a huge rimmed black hat, which we had especially made for this shoot. I knew that this outfit would help to emphasise her features and look great in the final image.

The other feature of the shot is the background colour. I wanted a colour that would complement the colour of her skin, and draw the viewer’s attention to her. That’s why I chose to have a blue gradient background, which I created using a small Dedolight covered with a Colour Temperature Blue (CTB) gel. By using continuous lights, rather than flash, I was able to visualise the final shot whilst I was working. I started with lighting the background and creating the gradient and the model’s silhouette. Then I chose a reflector for the Dedolight that would soften the light on the models face. One thing that I had to make sure of was that there was some light on the blouse on the models neck so that there was some separation between that and the hat.

portrait of a lady wearing a big black hat

© Marian Sterea | Sony α1 + FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA | 1/200s @ f/1.8, ISO 500

With the outfit and lighting resolved it was time to pose her. I directed her to pose like the fashion models of the 1960s, with all of the lines, and dark space created by the large hat, directing the viewer’s attention directly to her face.

I shot the image with Sony Alpha 1, with the Zeiss Sonnar T* 55mm f/1.8 ZA lens. I set the aperture to f/1.8 to create a depth of field that creates the sharpest point in the image on her eyes. To do this with ease, I used the Eye AF feature of the Alpha 1, which meant I could concentrate on directing the subject to achieve the pose and expression I wanted, rather than having to ever worry about the focusing.

To make sure I had the image, I shot in very shorts bursts of maybe two or three shots. Then I would redirect the model and shoot again. With every shot perfectly in focus thanks to the Eye AF, I knew I could pick whichever image I considered the best, rather than having to check I had the sharpness I wanted in the eyes.

Between the lighting and in-camera control, the final shot needed very little post-processing; I used Capture One and Adobe Photoshop to correct a few small blemishes and I softened the skin ever so slightly. The whole editing process took less than 10 minutes.

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Marian Sterea

Marian Sterea | Romania

“The wedding photographer is not just a witness, it’s not someone that just records everything that happens without judgement. The wedding photographer is a storyteller!"

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