Portraits: Jenny in Bute Park / The Castle Arcade with the Sony A7 and A7R


Happy New Year!

If you read my previous post (don’t feel bad if you didn’t, it’s fine), then you’ll know one of my targets for 2014 (there are 14!) is to post at least 24 photography blog posts this year. That’s one every fortnight on average…. which in theory seems doable, but all too often, I let this side of my life slide.

Why? Because photo editing takes time, time I have to spend inside, when I could be outside, taking more photos. But it’s a little ironic if I take tonnes of photos but then they just languish on my hard drive… so I thought if I set a tangible goal of a fortnightly post, it might be a push in the right direction.

So…. my first post of 2014 brings you some portraits which I took at the end of 2013… well it was November anyway. I’d just come back from the Caribbean (post coming soon!) and I was feeling a little fed up with the cold and grey Welsh weather, but this portrait session managed to cheer me up.

I was using the Sony A7 and SonyΒ A7R, two of the most exciting cameras to be announced in recent times. They’re the world’s smallest and lightest interchangeable lens cameras to feature a full frame sensor and, in my humble opinion, could be a bit of a game changer. That tends to get said a lot about cameras, but having used several dozen in the past couple of years, I feel more confident about this one.

It might not be perfect (I gave them both 4.5 stars in my TechRadar reviews, but only 4 in my magazine reviews which don’t allow half stars), they do represent a significant shift forward in what we can expect from cameras to come. I, along with lots of people I speak to, are moving away from the bulk and heft of the traditional DSLR, and the mirrorless market is shaping up to be an exciting one – I can’t wait to find out what 2014 has in store for us (and I really mean that).

Back to the important bit now – the pictures. I met Jenny at a friend’s leaving party and she has such as pretty and expressive face that I knew I wanted to photograph her. I waited until the end of the night though to confess that though… I meet/see a lot of people I’d love to photograph, but I always worry I come across as slightly unusual if I tell them I want to photograph them (that’s why I like volunteers, FYI).

Jenny was, as I thought she might be, a great model. She’s also an actress and has done some modelling before, so it’s not really too much of a surprise. We played a little game where I gave her some scenarios (you’re a little girl who’s been told she’s going to Disneyland, you’re a 95-year-old widow who’s just come across one of her late husband’s belongings, and so on – there were others, but I can’t remember them now). It’s a technique I stole from Vanity Fair magazine, but it’s a good way to loosen someone up, even if the resulting pictures don’t even work – I’ll be trying it again for sure.

As the light faded (believe it or not, the photos outside were taken pretty much at sunset), we decided to head towards the Castle Arcade… my usual back up location if all else fails. It was a little bit special though because the Christmas lights made for some drop dead gorgeous background bokeh (hope you agree).

I was fortunate enough to be able to use a couple of great lenses for this shoot – a 35mm f/2.8 and a 55mm f/1.8, which at the time of writing, isn’t even available to buy yet (I’m lucky like that sometimes).

For some reason this is turning into one of the longest blog posts I’ve written in some time, so I’ll stop and let you enjoy the pictures. During my editing, I experimented a little with different styles – mainly a lazy Sunday afternoon giving me the opportunity to do so… feel free to let me know if you like (or don’t like) the style.

As always, comments, suggestions, thoughts and other missives are welcome in the box below.

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