I’m a natural light shooter most of the time so when I was asked to shoot on-set stills for a music video for the musical artist, Party Favor, I was both excited and nervous. Being on the set for “Reach for Me” posed two big challenges: I had to work with the light I was given, which was usually pretty low, and my subjects were constantly moving, so the potential for motion blur was significant and not the look I was going for. I can’t use flash, I can’t use a tripod, I can’t ask the model to pause or remain still, I have almost no control over the situation. I am there to document and create great still image content and definitely not to get in the way.
The music video was shot at night and featured model/actress Kat Ginsburg, it had a very dark, fast paced feel and I wanted to duplicate that feel in the still images. The director, Satien “Sat” Mehta, used two Quasar Light Bars and one Sky Panel as the only light sources. There was next to no natural light. I had to work quick get my shots while the cameras were rolling. Once they had the shot they moved on to the next. If I missed it, i missed it so I needed a camera and lens set up the was fast and versatile.
Brian Beckwith, and Brandon Parker, the DP’s shooting the video, used 3 fast primes; 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm, all shot wide open for a super shallow depth-of-field. It was my job to match the look and feel of those lenses but with a still camera. I was shooting handheld so I needed fairly fast shutter speeds, a camera with great high ISO, and a lens that could handle focusing in low-light, has great contrast, and creates beautiful bokeh. My go to lens for this was the Tokina opera 50mm f/1.4 lens. The lens is a great focal length in this situation because just a few steps forward and a few steps back back totally change the feel of the lens. It’s like a wide and a tele in one. A zoom would have been great but I really needed the extra 2-stops the f1.4 gave me.
The lens is amazing. The focus is snappy and locks on quickly. The images are clean and showed no signs of distortion or chromatic aberrations. And the separation at f/1.4 is ridiculous!!! Your subject really pops. The lens really pulls your subject out from the out-of-focus areas. The bokeh is smooth, point light sources are round, and the images exhibit a real sense of depth. Honestly it’s one of my favorite lenses and I can trust it to perform in all sorts of crazy lighting situations.
Jacen Carpenter, Tokina Ambassador