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Why So Photographic?




Images & Article By Jody Cortes



After attending last year’s WPPI, I was able to obtain and test some new tools for simple, studio portraits. Using a V-flat quick and versatile, I can create a simple backdrop as well as modify light. My test included the new, affordable V-Flat Pro, which is white on one side and black on the other. Partnering with Fotodiox Pro’s Selfie LED Ring Light creates classic fashion lighting with ease. The final piece was to test the portrait capabilities of my Tamron AF 70-300mm VC USD lens I purchased the year before. It is a quintessential part of my work with the event photography team at San Diego Comic Con. Here we focus on capturing panel discussions and behind the scenes action where this Tamron is my go-to lens. It is super sharp at long distances, lightweight and fast to focus. My goal is to create a simple, yet professional portrait set up that could be used at these events.

The subject of the test was my friend Jesse Oliva, who can make himself a haunting look-alike of Heath Ledger’s Joker in the Dark Knight. The ideal focal length for his portrait was 85-100mm. I was able to shoot through the Ring Light and not have to keep moving it around. Being mobile is another key aspect of event photography and I wanted to translate that idea into this portrait. If successful, I can easily re-create the look on location. While Jesse transformed himself into the Joker, I set up the V-Flat in less than 20 seconds without reading the instructions! That’s how easy it is to use.

So then… I wait. Perfection, takes time…

When Jesse was ready, I placed him next to the V-Flat. The ring light was easily attached to the front of my Tamron 70-300mm VC USD and I took a few test shots. I decided I preferred a darker look, so I switched to the black side of the V-Flat. The Ring Light switched from full to one side, resulting in classic Rembrandt Lighting. Playing with contrast and drama, I could make it really bright or bring it down to candlelight dimness as needed. Tamron’s Vibration Compensation in the 70-300mm helped compensate for the lower light conditions. I only had to change the setup from white background to black to get the shot. The V-Flat worked perfectly as a background; I shot with it in an L shape to have black on the background and along one side. With some adjustments to the color temperature on the Ring Light, I was able to avoid blowing out Jesse’s makeup, which was chalk white.

© Jody Cortes
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© Jody Cortes
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© Jody Cortes
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© Jody Cortes
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Working the frame; getting a bit closer to look at the detailed facial features. Upon review, the images were crystal sharp and worked as a great combo with the ring light and V-Flat. My favorite part is that this set-up is portable. As per the samples you can see, the Tamron AF 70-300mm VC USD was right on the money.

© Jody Cortes
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© Jody Cortes
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© Jody Cortes
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© Jody Cortes
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This test was successful! I am very happy with the results and need to invest in more Tamron lenses to make my life and work easier. It’s all in an affordable price range never sacrificing quality. I never edit much on location and my images have to be sharp -- I can’t miss a moment.

To follow model Jesse Oliva on Instagram: agentsofkhaos

To see more from Jody Cortes: Hyperionimages.com