Tag Archives: peyton lake

A Portrait Shoot with the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8

A fast 85mm has long been a favorite among the portrait photographer’s toolbox. Slightly telephoto, this particular focal length lightly compresses the image so that models are comfortably nestled within the background. From a design perspective, large apertures like f/1.8 or even f/1.2 remain cost effective and practical because at longer focal lengths, glass elements necessarily become prohibitively expensive and oversized. Lastly, the 85mm’s working distance lets you stay close enough to the model yet provide a lot more depth-of-field (and bokeh) than your fast 50mm or 35mm.

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15 y/o Mikaila Storrs (left) and 19 y/o Peyton Lake (right) at Newport Beach. Makeup and hair by Jordan Takeda.

So what do we look for when choosing a 85mm portrait lens? Three things spring to mind. First, it has to be easy to handle because the last thing you’d want is a lens encumbering you after the models are made up and the studio is paid for. Try shooting with an EF 85mm f/1.2 all day and you’ll see what I mean.

Next, of course, is image quality but that is often a broad and nebulous term, and 85mms, in general, have been great performers. More specifically, a defining feature of the 85mm is its ability to throw the background out of focus, isolating the subject in a cocoon of soft blurriness. So a good portrait lens should have its own character.

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The girls riding and looking back in a Surrey, a four wheeled bicycle contraption available for rent all along the sunny coast of California.

Finally, since for large aperture primes we’ll be working with a narrow depth-of-field, fast and accurate autofocus is absolutely essential, much more so than for shorter focal lengths. I defy you to eye-focus with a manual lens, on a non-split prism focusing screen, at variable light and working distances. You just can’t do it, consistently, so professionals rely on quality AF at longer focal lengths.

So for this hands-on review, we are using the latest and greatest from Zeiss, their Batis 85mm f/1.8. We briefly looked at its technical specs when we first laid our hands on it, so rather than doing that again here, we’re going to jump straight into the good stuff. We called up Peyton and Mikaila, they drove to Newport Beach from Hollywood and San Diego respectively, and we rented a few bikes along the beach boardwalk. A fun Sunday afternoon in California.

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Peyton Lake as “Harley Quinn in Los Angeles”

I’m not a huge fan of superhero movies. Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight along with Heath Ledger‘s haunting Joker, and Christian Bale‘s anti-hero Batman pretty much defined superhero movies for me. It honestly was one of the best movies of all time.

I am not particularly looking forward to the upcoming Suicide Squad coming out in 2016. I’m not so sure about Jared Leto’s 30-Seconds-to-Mars Joker and especially not sure about Ben Affleck‘s effeminate nipple-clad Batman. However, I will definitely watch the movie for one reason and one reason only… Margot Robbie is the new Harley Quinn.

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Margot Robbie as the Joker’s girlfriend, Harley Quinn

There have been many visually iconic female characters throughout Hollywood’s history. Matilda from Leon/The Professional. Princess Leia from Star Wars. Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. They are arguably more memorable than the movies they appeared in. Okay, maybe not for Star Wars.

But most recently, the internet went berserk when Warner Brothers leaked behind-the-scenes images of their upcoming 2016 movie Suicide Squad. In it, is the gorgeous Margot Robbie who plays the deliciously devilish Harley Quinn.

Inspired by her character’s costume design and naughty panache, we set out to recreate our own Dr. Harleen F. Quinzel on the streets of LA with one of our favorite models, Peyton Lake. We bring you along our shoot in this photo essay.

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Newly Signed Model Peyton Lake

For most of my photo shoots, 95-99% of my images are throwaways. 1-5 in 100 ever see the light of day. But with a small handful of models, almost every image is a keeper. I’ve thought about this and I don’t know what it is.

Modeling is deceptively difficult. It’s not just about a pretty face, a clear complexion, and a 5’10” body. They have surprisingly very little to work with. A hundredth of a second. Two dimensions.

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It’s not about confidence in front of the camera, because most models have that in abundance regardless of whether it’s real or not. It’s not entirely about knowing your angles and poses, as it can only get you so far. Most models will act pretty for the lens, which is fine for catalogues, but this almost always leads to something cliched and boring.

If I had to single out a single commonality among my favorite models, it would be their ability to just be in the moment. There is an honesty to just being in the moment. Since photography is often a lie, whatever truth we can capture instantly becomes gold.

Peyton Lake is one of the few models who really captures our attention. Her look is unique and memorable. She is honest and natural in front of the lens. We are proud to feature her in this interview.

iLHP: Hi Peyton, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Could introduce yourself? 

Peyton: Hi Ed, thank you for having me. I’m a 19 year old from a small town in Alaska called Fairbanks. I’ve played hockey since I was 4 years old. I played competitively since the age of 10 up until this past year, I finished up my youth competitive hockey career in California for the Anaheim Lady Ducks.

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Image processed with the Holga Style Warm Sides preset.

iLHP: Hockey? Right on, I haven’t worked with hockey playing models before. How did you get started in modeling? 

Peyton: At first I was just kind of messing around in front of the camera for friends’ photography classes or just for fun, but now I look at it as something that I want to continue doing and hope that I become successful in.

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Why Do We Still Shoot Black & White Portraits?

Why do we still shoot in black and white? Nobody really shoots film anymore. When do we decide to throw away beautiful skin tones, luscious blonde colors, and late afternoon sunlight? Why would we want to go grayscale?

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If you’ve been following my photography, you’ll notice that I rarely shoot black and white portraits, and this is on purpose. Not because I prefer one over the other aesthetically, but I personally feel shooting color is more difficult and challenging, and it is something I constantly strive to practice.

I’m ambivalent about b&w portraits and b&w photography in general. I’m very confident in b&w. Some of my best published works are monochrome. It is striking, it is clean, and it is minimalistic, all qualities in which I love. But a part of me also feels it’s cheating.  Continue reading Why Do We Still Shoot Black & White Portraits?

5 Reasons You Should Try Digital Holga Portraits

Remember when life wasn’t so complicated, when there wasn’t a million things to remember, and when photography wasn’t a serious hobby but just . . . for fun? Holga remembers.

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A featherweight at 38g. A bargain at $15.

There is freedom in simplicity. You can pour over MTF graphs online and ridiculous DxO Mark scores, or you can do-it-yourself and experiment with something deliciously old school.

As I’ve mentioned recently, I’m in love with this $15-25 plastic Holga lens. We took it out to the LA Arts District, Venice Beach, and Santa Monica Pier for several model test shoots.

The Holga lens is available for a variety of focal lengths and mounts. We used a 25mm f/8 for our Sony A7, but other versions are available as follows:

5. The Lovely 35mm Film Look

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Peyton Lake rocking her AC DCs in the back of a 325i. Makeup by Jordan Takeda. Image processed with the Terry Style Clean preset for Adobe Lightroom.

Digital is clean, precise, and sterile. Film has a texture to it, or as Patrick Bateman might say, “the tasteful thickness of it.” But the problem with 35mm film is the time, expense, and effort of dealing with a physical media, not to mention, the way we consume photography has long changed from printed photo to digital websites.

Continue reading 5 Reasons You Should Try Digital Holga Portraits