The Opticians

I received a brief from Live Magazine. One of the branches of David Myers Opticians (the branch in Penwortham) needed some images for their upcoming advert and editorial. I didn’t really fancy just shooting the shop front, or just the frames for that matter. I wanted a fairly striking image of their frames in use.

Tony modelled the male frames, and Nicola was chosen as the female model, as she has very arresting eyes and the longest natural eyelashes I have ever seen!

The area I was to work in was basically 5 feet by 5 feet, with a bench seat along one side. Not a lot of room at all, but we have to make do with the tools we are given    🙂

I wanted a nice soft light, so as not to get harsh or overpowering highlights on the frames. The Lencarta Safari Classic was used in conjunction with a 120cm folding octabox and a 70x100cm folding softbox, both around two and a half feet from Nicola’s face. The octabox was camera right, and you can probably make it out in Nicola’s eye. The softbox was camera left to fill the shadow from the frames themselves. Both “boxes” were as high as possible, given the fact it was an eight foot ceiling.

Safari output was at minimum.

Nikon D3 1/125th sec ISO200 24-70mm at f7.1

This particular image presented more challenges than you may realise at first glance. It wasn’t the lighting or the model that was the problem; it was the image concept itself. After talking to Rob, the manager, I had decided to obtain an “advertising crop”, meaning an image that would be good to go as an eighth page advert, that would only require the text adding to it to make it a fully feasible advert in its own right. I liked the frames Tony had already used in a couple of earlier shots, where I’d noticed there was enough of a gap at the side to be able to see Tony’s eye. Mindful of the rule of thirds, correct placement of Tony’s eye and frames would leave two thirds(ish) of the image free for text overlay.

Lighting wasn’t a problem, as the lights remained the same and I simply had Tony turn to face a little more towards the left and the 70×100 softbox. He had to sit down on the bench so as the lights were actually much higher (relatively speaking) and therefore avoid any reflection in the lens. So far, so good, and all fairly elementary stuff.

So, what was my challenge?

To get the frame composition and close up I wanted, meant I needed to switch to the 60mm Micro Nikkor, the older model. A great little lens, but rather iffy on auto focus. It’s a fairly well documented “feature” regarding the hit and miss approach of the autofocus on this lens, which is slow anyway, as it isn’t an AF-S lens like the new version. Manual focus is fine, and I quite happily switch between the two during a lot of the assignments I have, even with the 24-70mm AF-S, but that’s just a personal quirk.

Normally, manually focusing the 60mm Nikkor isn’t an issue, as the camera is tripod mounted and neither the camera nor the subject are moving. It’s more of a problem if one or the other isn’t static, and certainly somewhat migraine inducing when neither are static, as was the case here.

I pre-set the focus and shot a sequence every time Tony seemed to be in the correct field. I have to give Tony his due, most of the movement came from me trying to kneel at the correct height.

Nikon D3 1/125th sec ISO200 60mm at f7.1

The following image is the one chosen for their advert, and they have retained several others for their upcoming marketing campaign.