Studio experiments with the Sigma 17-50 mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM

Hey guys,

last week I once again went to a photo studio to do some experiments. This time a simple background and “normal” light conditions weren’t enough for me because I wanted to try something new. I wanted to use flashes in another way, and since I’ve become a big fan of strobes used in photography for quite some time already, I wanted to give it a try. For all those who don’t know: Strobes or serial flash is a photographic term for flashes shooting very short light flashes within a short period. This kind of photography makes it possible to combine, for example, quick moves in one single shooting. This technique is often used in sports photography. The most famous photos of this kind show acrobats and dancers. A black background isn’t essential, but recommendable because the single images can then be combined in the best possible way after shooting.

Since the studio unfortunately wasn’t big enough to capture a dancer in full motion or to shoot an acrobat performing exercises, I had to improvise. I decided to get away from sports and work in the field of portrait and beauty photography instead. I also didn’t want to show two rigid photos but first take a sharp photo of the model and then blur the image. You better just take a look at the first photo of the series to see what I mean.

My equipment consisted of the Canon EOS 70D and the Sigma 17-50 mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM, which counts among my favorite lenses with crop sensors. With its widest aperture of 2.8 it’s very light-intense and covers a fixed focal length range from 17mm to 50mm. With 17mm you can take some good wide-angle shots for travel, architecture and landscape photography. With 35mm on an APSC camera or 50mm, respectively, you get good classical focal lengths used for portraits.

As recommended when using strobes in photography, I chose a simple black background and a flash head which I equipped with a beauty dish. In beauty and portrait photography this particular light former is one of my favorites as it creates neither too soft light like a soft box nor extremely harsh shades like a standard reflector. Keeping the room as dark as possible was very important, since scattered light used with the wide-open apertures of the camera would have altered the photo.

First and contrary to my usual practice, I had to place the camera on a tripod in order to focus on a lasting detail. Then the great experimenting began. I tried to find ideal intervals for flashes or for keeping things dark. Within an aperture (which in my case was 3 seconds) a very short flash had to shoot out and freeze the model on the picture. The second flash was supposed to illuminate the model for some longer time while she was moving and thus creating a blurred image. In between the two flashes it was dark for a short period of time. This shooting required countless tries and a lot of patience from all sides. However, I’m pretty happy with the results and for sure I’m going to get back to this topic again very soon.

The Sigma 17-50 mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM was a good choice for this shooting. Whenever I walk around with the Canon EOS 70D, it’s my universal companion with which I’ve taken a lot of my favorite pictures. It’s a great travel lens which, however, also won’t let me down when shooting portraits or in studios. The manufacturer describes the autofocus of this lens as fast and noiseless. In my shooting, however, it turned out to be the only tricky issue. As the background was rather dark during the shooting, focusing the model sometimes took more time.


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