This super fun portrait shoot was one for the books.
One of the main reasons I chose the Pentax K1 II as my next camera is because it is just about the perfect camera for not only landscapes, but portrait shoots too. I had the opportunity, and the honor to be asked to capture the happy moments of a soon to be graduate from the Oklahoma State University. I packed up my gear, and hit I-35 to Stillwater, OK so that we could capture the joy and excitement of this huge occasion.
I have to admit, I had been giddy with excitement about this shoot from the moment I was asked to do it. The student, Ashlee is a long time friend and so it was an honor to be a part of this huge part of her life, I was also excited because it would be the first time for me to use the K1 II and the glorious Pentax FA 77mm f1.8 Limited on a portrait shoot.
For this shoot I used just a few pieces of equipment. Lets take a quick look.
It was a truly gorgeous Oklahoma day when we completed this shoot. The two days beforehand were really quite horrific so doubts about the day of the shoot were starting to creep in, but Mother Nature done us a solid and she gave us hardly any wind, and beautiful sunny skies; it really couldn't have been any better.
Now sunny skies can be a photographers worst enemy because of shadows, and that is why I learned how to use off camera flash. Flashes and strobes allow you to fill in the harsh shadows that the sun can create. OCF (off camera flash) is a game changer, and it is something that I suggest every photographer should learn how to use.
I personally use the Flashpoint XPLOR 400 Pro. It is a wonderful monolight that is more than powerful enough to overpower the sun in most situations. It's easy to use, it recycles incredibly fast, and the light is consistent. Flashpoint make their R2 Pro triggers for Pentax too which is amazing.
We started out the shoot in front of the beautiful Edmon Low Library on the campus of Oklahoma State University (as you can see in the images above) The building is a landmark in the town of Stillwater and it provided a nice backdrop for these portraits. I fired up the K1 II and we got to work. Right off the bat I was seriously impressed with the K1 II and the smc FA 77mm limited. The lens focused really fast, which surprised me as it is a screw drive lens, the camera was also fast and accurate. The XPLOR 400 pro was popping left, right, and center, and we were able to get some great shots before we moved on to our next location. Theta Pond.
Just look at that bokeh and the specular highlights. Simply gorgeous. The smc FA 77mm f1,8 Limited is a lens like no other I have used. It produces beautiful images with film like qualities. As you can tell in the above picture, we were in some heavy shade, but the K1 II and the FA 77mm Limited performed flawlessly.
At f1.8 the lens is perhaps a little soft, but at f2.2 it's razor sharp. I think i'm in love. It's the perfect portrait lens, and it just gets better when used with flash. Next stop, the Edmon Low fountain.
Who says you can't have fun during a portrait shoot! Shame on them. We had a blast making the next few images. Ashlee really let her spirit shine in this image. I absolutely love environmental portraits! There's nothing better.
For this shot I switched out to the Pentax D FA 28-105mm F3.5-5.6ED DC WR HD. A basic kit lens this is not. This lens is ridiculously sharp, and it is weather sealed to the nines! It produces such gorgeous colors, and it's fast to focus. It's another perfect lens to pair the K1 II up with. We still used the XPLOR 400 for this shot and as you can see, it lit the scene perfectly and helped capture the enormous amounts of fun Ashlee was having. The water was super cold though, so we moved on to the library lawn.
Now this image was a challenge, but so much fun. It was amazing when we captured what we wanted. The lawn got a healthy sprinkling of sequins and it probably looked like diamonds on the ground to the passengers on the plane that was flying over head! :)
This image was also shot with the Pentax D FA 28-105mm F3.5-5.6ED DC WR HD. The autofocus is faster than that of the 77mm Limited. No monolight was used here either. I cranked the ISO up to 800 (still looks as clean as ISO 100), f stop was f5, shutter speed was 1/1250 sec, and we were at 40mm. I cannot even begin to tell you how tack sharp the eyes are in this image. I was simply blown away when I was reviewing the files. Sure, it took a few attempts to get this shot, but it was so worth it!
The champagne show was up next! I was a little nervous about this one as we had one chance to nail it! Still using the 28-105, and no monolight, I set the camera to high speed burst mode (4.4 fps on the Pentax K1 II) and away we went. The cork popped and the champagne was flowing! We were able to capture this image with no problems at all! This camera is a beast.
The weather sealing made me feel at ease with the liquids flying everywhere, and the way the camera locks on and stays there is a pure joy. At this point I had totally forgotten about my X-T3 and I knew I had made the right decision to jump into bed with Pentax.
As we were winding down for the day, we decided to head inside to find some shade from the sun. Ashlee wanted some shots in the buildings and offices that she has spent so much time in during her time at OSU. She worked closely on many things with the Student Body President and we were allowed to shoot some images in their office.
This image was shot with the FA 77mm limited at f1.8, XPLOR 400 Pro to camera right, one shot, and it was nailed. The amount of detail, the sharpness, the colors, just perfect! This camera and lens combo can capture it all.
Walking back to our vehicles we decided to capture some fun shots while Ashlee was wearing her Oklahoma State Univesity Alumni shirt. We found the perfect covered outdoor corridor for this shot. I just had to use the FA 77mm here because of its ability to really generate that subject isolation. The monolight was to camera left, f1.8, 1/2500 sec, ISO 100. BAM! Another stunner of a shot. The K1 II can do this all day long without ever breaking a sweat! It. Is. Awesome!
Until Next time
This shoot went better than I could have imagined. using a new camera and a new lens combo for the first time can always be a little nerve wracking, but from the first click of the shutter, and the first slap of the mirror, I knew all would be well. The Pentax K1 II has exceeded all of my expectations for portrait photography. It's a true marvel. Pair it up with the FA 77mm f1.8 limited and you will create magic every time you use it. They are just that good.
I simply cannot wait until my next portrait shoot with the K1 II. I will of course be posting all about it. Until next time my friends.