The time I took portraits of the actor Norikatsu Kodama.
Norikatsu has been a friend of mine for over 10 years, and in the past has appeared in movies that I was in charge of filming. I’d like to present the portraits I photographed, and while doing so, I’ll introduce the equipment and camera settings I used during the photo session.
- Location and beforehand preparations
The location for the photo session was a conference room in Tokyo. I planned to use lighting, so I chose a room without a window so as to eliminate natural light. In addition to his casual wear, Norikatsu brought a suit, jacket, and other such changes of outfit. I brought equipment including a tripod and lighting in addition to my camera. We did not need to rent a studio or conference room for the photo session. When photographing, you can use a park, the side of the road, or your home if that place allows you to take the portrait you have in mind.
For this photo session, I wanted to experiment with many different lighting techniques, so I chose a location free from the effects of natural light, allowing me to concentrate on the shooting.
Here I will introduce the equipment I used for the photo session.
First, I used a 5D Mark II camera combined with a SIGMA 24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM lens.
For a sub-camera, I used a Sony α7II and a Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS for the lens. For the tri-pod, I used the Manfrotto MVH500AH,755CX3 photography kit, which I also use for filiming. For lighting, I used the MLS900FT. For the MLS900FT, I used the MLH1HS snap head and mounted it on the MS0490A stand.
- About the MLS900FT
The MLS900FT is a very powerful and functional LED light. It has a broad range of light intensity, and its color temperature is adjustable from 3200K to 5600K.Therefore, the user can choose whether the light illuminating the subject has a cool color or a warm color. Color temperature will greatly influence the ambience of a picture. When checking a portrait that was taken outside on a computer at home, for example, sometimes the white balance differs from what the photographer had intended. In such cases, adjustments can be made using Lightroom or Photoshop. However, in the case of indoor photography with the use of lighting, the light illuminating the subject will influence the color temperature.I turned off the fluorescent light on the ceiling of the conference room when taking the portrait, and used only the MLS900FT for the photo session.
- Portrait photography tips
We spent about 2 hours on the photo shoot.
I took pictures with many different lighting angles, but ultimately I was pleased with the pictures I took using frontal lighting, so I conducted the photo session with the MLS900FT mounted on the accessory shoe mount of the camera.
The camera remained mounted on the tripod. No matter how well a photo session is illuminated, blurring caused by an unsteady hand will ruin a portrait.
On this photo session, I used only one light. The F number, ISO, and shutter speed settings could be changed to meet each requirement, but on this photo session, there was a high risk of blurring if the camera were held by hand.In addition, the photos were taken using a two-second timer. The most critical factor in avoiding blurry pictures was to not touch the camera when the shutter was released. With the camera mounted atop the tripod, the process involved determining the composition of the shot and taking the picture using the two-second timer. Using a remote control made it possible to take picture without touching the camera, which eliminated concerns over blurring. It was also possible to take pictures without waiting for the two-second timer, so that lowered missed shutter chances.
As Norikatsu is an old friend of mine, we chatted throughout the photo session, and had a good time.
Here I’d like to present four of the pictures.
As Norikatsu is an actor, he felt no shyness or reservations about changing his expressions or poses. As was the case in the past, I didn’t have any problems getting him to perform for the camera.
However, for this photo session, rather than have Norikatsu disappear into one of the roles he’s played on film, I challenged myself to capture some sides of him that have never been seen before.
Lastly, I’d like to present the camera settings I used at the photo session.
They differed slightly for each photograph, but I mostly used the following settings:Focal length：105 mm
Camera mode：Aperture-priority AE
Shutter speed: 1/4 – 1/8 seconds
Aperture setting: F5.6
ISO sensitivity: 400If the photo session had taken place in a studio, I would have had more control over the details, such as using several lights instead of just one, or using backdrops to change the scenery. Therefore, the camera settings would have been different.
I used only one light in a conference room for this photo session, but I enjoyed taking a trial and error approach based on the subject, my equipment, and the location.I was happy to hear from Norikatsu that he enjoyed the photo session, and we’ll take photos again at a different location.
Photographing portraits is fun. Also, being limited to only one light allows for a wider range of expressions.
Studied contemporary art at the International photography center at New York University. He is presently the chief editor at Pictbox, a site for uploading original works. He is also photography director of the filming team 155 works, where he is involved with video and music video editing.
※ Sugiura’s photo ideas, etc. can be seen in his articles at Manfrotto Imagine More