Table top I

beauty, erotic, Personal Pictures

I will continue my single image posts until I run out of stock :p
Result of the ‘At the Mansion’ shoot with Anna O., in Ronse Belgium.
Styling and photography by me.
Make up and model: Anna Orlova

Limited edition prints available.

Table Top Nude I

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It is ok to like 😉

About the technique, I still work mainly (if not only) with natural light. This image has been made with the help of a tripod, because of the relatively long shutter speed, and in an attempt to keep a clean, frontal composition. I have multiple images of this session, but I think this one best expresses the beautiful shape of Anna’s body. No light source except the window light. Some light is bouncing back from the wall just behind me.

Canon 5D II – Canon EF 24 mm f1.4 L II – 1/10sec – f3.5 – ISO 100.

Ludwig

Battle of the 50’s Part II – Canon 50 mm f1.4 USM vs. Sigma 50 mm f1.4 DG HSM Art

Personal Pictures, photo gear, tests

A lot of good rumors about the Sigma 50mm Art that was announced for the end of April. I have decided to order one as soon as it was available here in Belgium, and I wanted to do a comparison between this praised newcomer and the 50 mm f1.4 I have been using since about two years. (see battle of the 50’s for a comparison between Canon’s cheap (fantastic plastic) 50 mm f1.8 and the second in line 50mm f1.4 from Canon as well)

So this time a comparison between the Sigma 50mm f1.4 DG HSM Art and the Canon EF 50 mm f1.4 USM.
Both aimed at the full frame market, a rather old design for the Canon, brand new for the Sigma, part of the ‘Art’ series of new lenses from the latter.

In my photography I often have to deal with difficult light situations (I mostly work with natural light only) in dim lit interiors. I so have decided a couple of years ago to mainly go with fixed focal length lenses with big apertures. I currently have a Canon 24 mm f1.4 L II, a 50 mm f 1.4 (Canon and Sigma, although the Canon has already been sold and will be transferred to its new owner as soon as this test is over) a Canon 85 mm f1.8, a Canon 100 mm f2:8 macro (NEW) and a Canon 135 mm f2.0 L. A lot of glass and a lot of weight in my photo bag.

Additional weight for this 50 mm lens from Sigma too, compared to the Canon f1.4 (290 g) the Sigma comes at 815 grammes, meaning a lot more weight to carry. In combination with the Canon 5D mark II I use, this combo weighs about 1700 grams all together. My wife complained about the weight when I had her review the images of my last shoot.

The design of the Sigma lens is definitely more attractive, with is matte finish and sleek all black no colors approach. It comes with a hood and caps, and a square semi-hard lens case. The price here in Belgium is 839 € (Art & Craft pre-order) while the Canon comes at 339 € at the same shop.

All images for this test have been taken in my backyard or home studio, no special things going on here, except for young vegetable sprouts struggling against the spring rains we had lately.

As far as needed, all images are taken with tripod, live view magnification for focussing and with the same 5D II camera. Self timer to prevent touch shake.
The images show the entire scene on top, 100% crops from unedited images (except standard sharpening in LR5) below. The aperture setting is mentioned on every crop. All Jpg’s are saved at 100% quality. Take care, some of these images are big! All these images are for informational purpose only, no legal claims made!
You should really look at the images full size to be able to judge on the results obtained!

Sharpness center and edge:
Left to right: Canon center sharpness, Sigma center sharpness, Canon edge sharpness, Sigma edge sharpness.
Full size on click, 11.9 Mb Jpg file.

Sigma vs Canon 50mmtest-sharpcomp

My observations:
Center sharpness Canon: soft wide open, reaches full sharpness at f2.8, stays sharp till f8.0, a little diffraction softening at f16
Center sharpness Sigma: similar sharpness wide open as the Canon at f2.8, small increments of additional sharpness till f8.0, clearly visible diffraction effects at f16
Edge sharpness Canon: strong image distortions in this part of the image at f1.4 and f1.8, as if the image has had a rotational blur, gradually improving image quality, acceptably sharp at f8.0, soft degradation at f16
Edge sharpness Sigma: similarly sharp at f1.4 as the Canon at f1.8, but no distortions, f4.0 similar to Canon at f8.0 and sharpest at f8.0 and better image detail as the Canon at f8.0. More diffraction degradation at f16 than Canon.

Note the strong vignetting on the Canon f1.4 USM when used wide open. Less visible on the Sigma.
Vignetting is becoming invisible at f4.0 for the Canon, at f2.8 for Sigma.

Minimal focussing distance. Sharpness and magnification:
the minimal focus distance for the Canon is 0.45 m, for the Sigma it is at 0.4 m, so a bigger magnification is possible.
Another set of images, both showing the magnification comparison, and a crop showing sharpness with different apertures.

Sigma vs Canon 50mmtest-minfocus

my observations:
similar as previous test, very weak performance at the image edge for Canon, at least one stop better sharpness for the Sigma in both center and edge.
The Sigma lens has however more problems with purple fringing when used wide open (note the hairs on the plant stem). This reminds me of the ‘quick’n dirty 85mm lens test’ I did a couple of years ago, where similar fringing problems where appearing with the Sigma 85 mm f1.4

Chromatic Aberration and color fringe:
I remember from the previous test that the Canon proved horrible in the shots with the branches agains bright background. Let’s see what the Sigma does in comparison. I had no clear sky as the previous time today, but I kind of see the same things happening here.

Sigma vs Canon 50mmtest-CA center

Sigma vs Canon 50mmtest-CA edge

The Canon f1.4 USM suffers from severe fringing in high contrast areas, when used wide open. (strange that this phenomenon did not show in the plant close up) This is even apparent in live view, making it hard to focus correctly. When stopping down to 2.0, this greatly improves, and then we see similar things in both lenses, the Sigma not noticeably performing better in this aspect, showing purple fringing in front of the focus area, green fringing behind the focus plane.
In both examples in this test however (overcast sky, dull weather) I have noticed very little CA in both lenses, a little bit of cyan-orange at f8.0 in the Canon image close to none in the Sigma. I suppose that in higher contrast situations, that might be worse. (to be confirmed).

Worth noticing in this respect is that the Sigma 50mm Art lens profile is not yet currently available in the standard Lightroom 5.4 upgrade, nor could I find a link to a profile for this lens on the web (may 13, 2014)

Longitudinal CA:
Chromatic aberration that is visible in the unsharp areas in front and behind the sharp area. Not the magenta shift in front of the sharp area, the green shift behind. Both images taken at f2.0. Remarkably higher in the Canon. Note the big difference in sharpness and contrast in the sharp areas between the two of them. Best viewed at 100% of course.

Sigma vs Canon Longitudinal CA

Flare:
Canon to the left, Sigma to the right.

Sigma vs Canon 50mmtest-Flare

My observations: Do I really need to? It’s obvious I guess.

Bokeh:
Canon to the left, Sigma to the right. I think Sigma’s bokeh is softer and smoother. In the Canon unsharpness, there is still some structure and noise. Not 1/1 images but big enough to analyze.

Sigma vs Canon 50mmtest-Bokeh

Thank you for reading, I think I will keep my Sigma, and trade on the Canon.
You are welcome to share this comparative review, I take no responsibilities of any kind 😉

come back again for some real world image samples of this lens in my shoots!

best,

Ludwig

Anna at the Mansion – Part I, the Salon. NSFW

beauty, erotic, Personal Pictures

Hi,
I had another shoot at the mansion some weeks ago. Anna is a international nude model, and from time to time she is working in Belgium for a couple of days. I had the possibility to work with her for a short day in Ronse. We did a shoot at the mansion before noon, had a break at my place, then had a second shoot in what I want to call ‘the garden of eden’, a new location I discovered lately, in Ronse as well. I will show you the results of this cooperation in multiple posts. First part is called the Salon, one of the bigger pieces of the Mansion, on the ground floor, and now almost renovated completely. The owners of the house are slowly gathering furniture that fits together with the interior, and we were lucky to find this lovely small bench.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to buy some more gear, and I wanted to further expand my low-light possibilities. I have had a hard time making sharp images several times in these ‘mansion shoots’ due to low light conditions. The lenses I have are good, are having the benefits of wide open apertures, but none of them features image stabilization. I have decided to try on the Canon 100 mm f2,8 L IS for this reason. It is one stop slower than my 135 mm, but it provides 4 stop image stabilization, so I gain about 3 stops in shutter speed, provided that my subject is not moving. I have managed to keep Anna stay in place. 😀 Another benefit from this lens is its macro capability, so no more struggling with minimal focus distances. This lens focuses so close I can get a single eye filling the frame.

I think you’ll be able to figure out which images are with 100 mm lens, all the others are wide angle, with my 24 mm.

About the NSFW in the title, If you are offended by the nudity in my images, I’m sorry I didn’t mean to, but I think it is tasteful and beautiful, so I will very probably post more (covered) nude images in the near future.

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I hope you liked the images. There’s more with Anna to come soon.

best, Ludwig

Going commercial? Kim at the Mansion – color.

beauty, Personal Pictures

Hi there,
I’ve been wondering for a while now if I should start promoting my model shoots commercially. Yes I have done some shoots that have made me gain some money from them, but mostly my ‘natural beauty’ shoots are initiated by myself. I have the location, I look for a model, we get an agreement and an appointment, and we get together.
We discuss shoot contents over some moodboards I have at hand, and I shoot under my own command.
That last sentence is the most important reason for me not to start too fast shooting commercially. (By commercial, I mean privately ordered beauty shoots, not publicity work or fashion or anything else) The fact that I can decide on the style, the make up, the model and the location is a big plus for creating my own style. Whenever I’m working in any kind of assigned shoot, I’m no longer the sole decision maker, and I’m afraid that that could interfere with what I call my own personal, slowly getting defined style. As soon as the model starts interfering, and even saying “hey, but I would like an image like you made with that other girl” I’m not longer the boss of my shoots, and I will no longer be able to decide on anything I want (as far as I’m not interfering with the limits of my model of course).

On the other hand, a little extra money from my shoots would be more than welcome. I have been investing a lot in equipment and time lately, and I would like to have some kind of ‘return on investment’ in the months to come. A problem with that is that demand for the kind of shoots I do (or even a regular prom shoot session) is virtually inexistent here in Belgium, so I’ll have to ‘convince’ my customer potential that a shoot with me, and the resulting images are worthwhile.

Anyone need a gift for mother’s day? Shoot plus pillow book maybe?

LudwigDesmet_KimT-Pillowbook

some more results from the shoot with Kim. Color images this time. Enjoy!

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Kim at The Mansion – Sepia

beauty, Personal Pictures

Hi there,
In my previous two posts I already used some images from my Natural Beauty session with Kim. Here are some more.
This shoot session resulted in so many nice images that I have plenty more to share.
This time a selection of sepia tinted images. I have a developing preset in Lightroom that I use for the sepia conversion, so that all images I develop this way nicely fit together in a larger collection.
It is basically a standard black and white conversion with a split toning effect added to it.

I hope you like the images, see them as an Easter gift!
Enjoy Kim at The Mansion – Sepia. Images clickable for a bigger version.

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Images taken with Canon 5D II and 24,50,85 and 135 mm fixed focal length lenses. Developed in Lightroom 5.

Thank you for passing by,

ludwig

Natural looking portraits – Shoot with Kim part II

beauty, Personal Pictures, personal tips & tricks, Tips and Tricks

I sometimes get the remark that my models don’t smile enough. As a reaction I created a Facebook Album with all model laughs I captured in the last 18 months. You cannot prevent smiling yourself by looking at them.
We have the natural reaction of making someone smile at us when we want to take a picture. It might be good to look at, but it is not at all natural behavior to have a smile on your face trough the day. (except when you are madly in love, maybe)

It is more of a challenge to have people look natural in their portraits.
Here are two tips that might help you get a natural looking portrait.
1. Make them interact with themselves, not with you.
Make yourself invisible to them, make them forget about you, make them think of something else. One great way to do that is having your model look at herself in a mirror. They might feel a little uncomfortable at first, but I noticed that most of my models are very well able to look at themselves in the mirror without any problems. You can still give them instructions, but they are no longer directly facing a stranger with a big camera in front of him, they are facing themselves, and that is a lot more familiar. In looking at herself, she will also create a mood of intimacy and comfort as a bonus.

LudwigDesmet_KimT-5470

2. Make them connect to themselves, not to you.
This might look similar to 1, but it is different after all.
When you see that your model is having difficulties looking into a camera neutrally without turning into a grin face in an attempt to prevent from laughing, it might be a good idea to try this:
Have her keep her eyes closed for some seconds, and then look at you. The time taken will allow her not to connect to the outer world, (unlike the mirror, where she still connects to her body/face/how she looks) but to her inner thoughts and soul. This will quickly make all facial expressions fade away, giving you the perfect neutral face, neutral or natural, whatever you prefer.

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Try it, it’ll work.

Images are from my session with Kim, she never posed before, we worked for about 2 and a half hours in The Mansion and this resulted in many great pictures of her. You can click on the images to see a bigger version.

thank you for reading.

Ludwig

Nude Studio Setup – 1 light

Personal Pictures, personal tips & tricks, Tips and Tricks, Uncategorized

Continuation of my series of ‘portfolio shoot images’ Behind the scene’s.

For this setup I used only one studio flash, with reflector.
In order to create a really small light bundle, you need to work with solid elements blocking the light.
For this I use some of those huge styrofoam boards (they can be bought in the build supply shops, they are used for insulation, crappy for this purpose, but very handy in studio) of 120x220x6 cm. I paint them black on one side, and around the edges. I made some simple stands from fibre wood panels to hold them upright.
They weigh virtually nothing and are easily stowed away.

here you can see one white side front, one back side front (I pushed exposure a bit here, because they are really nicely black):

LudwigDesmet-studio-6597

So a very simple setup here:
one flashlight on the left, with standard reflector, two styrofoam panels, black side towards the flash (you don’t want light bouncing of the white side, don’t you?)
model standing right in the middle, a little further back. Because the reflector is a quite big light source, you’ll need to put your panels really close to eachother (2 cm apart for instance) and you’ll still have the light spreading out further away from the panels.

Portfolio studio setup2

two images with this setup:

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thank you for reading, see you soon for a new post.

Ludwig

Sensor cleaning

photo gear, Tips and Tricks

I’ve had my camera’s about 2 years/3 years now, and I never had the nerve to clean the sensor. I have always been afraid something might happen to the sensor surface while cleaning it. Till now.
Some weeks ago I went to a local shop buying the necessary equipment.
I received a bottle of Eclipse, optical cleaning fluid (www.photosol.com) and a box of Vswab Ultra MXD-100 from VisibleDust (12 pcs). Attention, you should always get the right swabs for your size of sensor. Full frame, aps-c x1.6 or aps-c x1.5 or aps-c x1.3, depending on your type of reflex camera. The bottle is good for at least a hundred sensor wipes, the box of swabs will be quickly gone, as I discovered quite soon. The swabs are individually packed in plastic foil, and should only be unpacked just before use. (the image below is after cleaning 2 sensors)
I’m not sure it’s the best tools around, but it’s the stuff they recommend. Since I have no experience with other makes, I can’t judge. One remark, it might be a good idea to use one of those static brushes, to wipe of loose dirt first, but I don’t have one, so I couldn’t use it.

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What I could judge, is how dirty my sensors were before cleaning.
The best thing to do to reveal dust on your sensor, is photographing an even surface (or a grey cloudy sky) and make sure you have your lens off focus (only possible in manual focus mode) dial in your smallest possible aperture value, and adapt shutter speed to have a slightly overexposed image. It should look something like this:
(ALL IMAGES CLICKABLE FOR BIGGER VIEW)

Ludwig_desmet-sensorclean-4572
this is an image of an overcast grey cloudy sky, f22 – 0,5 sec at ISO 100.

In Adobe lightroom 5, you can easily judge on how much dust you’ve gathered on your sensor by selecting the spot removal tool, and then checking the box visualizing spots just below the image. this turns your image into a black and white image, with all dust visible. (depending on the position of the visualization slider, you’ll see even the smallest dust spot)

Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 10.54.33

For those not working in Adobe Lightroom, in photoshop, you can similarly visualize the dust spots by putting a curve on your image, and putting the white and black point just left and right of your histogram. Since you have a low contrast image, your histogram should be rather small.

This is the first image of the other camera, with the above explained curve applied:

Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 11.16.04

So these definitely need cleaning.

How to proceed? (this is for Canon 5D II, but it should be fairly similar on any other system)
1. make sure your battery is fully charged.
2. Get your lens of of the camera
3. find the menu item that says sensor cleaning -> manual cleaning
4. the camera warns you that the sensor will be exposed for manual cleaning.
5. Make sure you work in a clean environment, and have everything ready (enough light to clearly see where you put your swab down, cleaning fluid, sensor cleaning swab, …)
6. push the ok button on your camera. The mirror locks in the up position, the shutter opens. This remains so until you turn off your camera. If your battery is well charged, that should give you plenty of time to clean your sensor.
7. put some drops of cleaning fluid onto the first swab, insert it gently into your camera house, and put it down on one short side of your sensor. If you bought the right set of swabs, it should neatly fit the width of your sensor.
8. gently sweep across the sensor till you reach the other end, flip it over and sweep back. (in this way, you use both sides of the swab, without the risk of re-disposing any dust from the first used side. It took a while till I found out that that is probably the best way to do it. you’ll see in the different stage images.)
9. gently lift the swab away from the sensor (when you have reached the starting point of course)
10. dispose the used swab, no use in re-using the swabs, they are full of sticky dirt now.
11. switch of the camera, this should close the shutter and lower the mirror
12. put a lens on, and check the results. Repeat if necessary.

I used four swabs per camera, that’s because I’m a total beginner in sensor cleaning. I feel comfortable now to say that 3, maybe even 2 swabs should do to clean a sensor.

result after cleaning: You’ll still notice some dirt spots, but I can live with that for now (it was late yesterday evening, and I had to eat 😉 )
Also have I set the visualize threshold high, so you can see even the smallest spot of dust.

Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 11.07.33

Camera 2, before cleaning:
Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 11.09.22

And after cleaning:
Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 11.09.37

Not perfect, but for a first attempt very much ok with me.

see you soon, I’ll be posting another ‘at the Mansion’ shoot very shortly,

take care

Ludwig

Justine at the Mansion

beauty, Personal Pictures

I met Justine a couple of weeks ago. She was keeping an eye on an artwork in a temporary exhibit walk in the city of Ronse. I asked her if she would like to be a model for my series ‘Natural beauty’ at the Mansion, and she was really enthusiast about the idea. She visited the exhibit at the Mansion a couple of days later, together with her mom. We fixed some shooting days soon after.

The Mansion is still my number one location for these shoots, it is beautiful, it has a lot of possibilities, nice light and what is new these latest weeks is that it gets furnished again, giving it a new feeling of life.

We had a very dark gray day making it extra difficult shooting inside. Wide open apertures and long shutter speeds.
All natural light. Canon 5D II and Canon 24 – 50 – 85 mm lenses.
Enjoy the images.

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thank you for watching.
Soon to come, Justine autumn shoot

Male model – Urban style

beauty, Personal Pictures

Hi,
It took a while since my last post, sorry for that. The exhibit is running fine but it is taking a lot of my time in-between classes and jobs. I get good reactions, I sold about 10 limited edition books for now, and we have two more weeks coming. The exhibit ends on nov. 17th. Hurry if you still want to get a look inside this wonderful early 20th century house. Contact if you need more details, but you should be able to find them in my earlier posts.

A while ago I did another model shoot, this time for a male model. Not my usual thing, but when people ask me, then – why not? I permitted myself some developing styles I normally don’t use. A male model can have some more contrasty – edgy style developing than a female model (in my opinion of course) We worked in different locations, some of my usual ones, but also outside at the Ronse train station. Actually I can work about everywhere as a photographer, especially if my model is fully clothed, outside is fine, even in colder weather. The model is Bjorn, thank you Bjorn.

I hope you like the results. If you have any questions or remarks, pls drop a line.

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