5th Element {Portraiture | Noctilux f1}

end of time
end of time

I am often baffled at how the f1.0 produces the most amazing subject isolation. Unlike zoom lens where you turned the background into cream, the 50mm f1.0 retains the background visible shapes and you can get very decent size of the person with just a few steps away.


A handheld shot at 1/60, iso 320. The image retains the ambiance that is often felt at these beautiful dim lighted places.
Its friday, shoot long and prosper.

The city of Ember {Portraiture|Noctilux f1}

Carbon & yosemite

The noctilux F1 continues to amaze me with its seemingly out of the world rendering. At the end one must ask, does the price justify the results?

the wanderer

Shooting with the noctilux F1 takes on a different kind of eyes. You need to pay attention to the background and to the formation of bokeh that might occur, often making your wildest guess as to what the results might be.

the wanderer’s stare

Using the M9/ME CCD sensor only adds surprises to the results. The M9 sensor is a bad performer in high iso, but with a F1, you only need to do ISO 250-400 max.

grace of light

I found myself torn between focusing on the model as well as trying to envision how the background bokeh might be. Its easy to lose yourself in either one and end up with average photos that focuses too much on bokeh or ignoring its possible distractions.

malaysia top barista, kfchan

Even the most mundane background produces a kind of art around the subject.


The noctilux is not a sharp lens by any modern top lens standard…

binary man

but it can render nothing that the modern lens have.


Being real {portraiture | noctilux F1}


misa yap
misa yap

Occasionally I come across a friend that has no fear of doing a portrait session without makeup and without editing. Miss Taylor Yap here used to be a freelance model but now pursues a full time job in auditing. If i may be frank about auditing, i find that it is a lifeless job where you spend hours and hours afterwork at client’s site. ┬áSince i am using noctilux i am hoping that some of the softness of the lens would make this “nude face” photo-session a less intimidating session for the model.

the laughs
the laughs

Its 2.30 pm in the afternoon and its the worst time of the day to do any shooting. I had to hide among shades and try get some interesting shots. Miss Taylor here wore an interesting tops that have multiple holes. I know its kind of a trend nowadays, but coming from my generation, people would have thought she is in destitute of clothing. Haha, anyway her equally scratchy pants complements the tops.

that thing
that thing
easy smile
easy smile

The shoot ended around 30 minutes as we both feels that the weather and heat is really too much. I hope you enjoyed the images.

Two cheats in Portraiture {Portraiture|Noctilux F1}

Prime Arrancar #1
Prime Arrancar #1

There are two things that can make your portraiture stands out. Two things that resembles more like cheats than skills. I have tried all kinds of portraiture techniques, styles and lens and i believe these two factors are the “cheapest” way to improve, its almost cheat.

The first one is BOKEH.

Bokeh allows your portrait to stand out instantly. This is because bokeh only affects the lights in the background or those highlights behind your portrait or those way in front. In a way its like adding elements to your images that surrounds your main subject. This is where most kit lens sucks and sucks big time.


You can forget about bokeh if you have a slow lens. Even a 2.8 is crap nowadays. Get a 1.4 and we start talking. Bokeh is a by product of big aperture lens but its a totally separate factor to consider. Large aperture affects the DOF of the subject that you are focusing, this makes whatever in focus sharp while the others are blurred. This allows you to have subject isolation powers that will immediately pop your image, even if its a bad one.

Did i mentioned “cheapest”, i really mean its the laziest way you can improve in portraits. Period. If you don’t have both of these, you better have very sharp, contrasty lens, good studio setup or a beautiful scenery that adds interest to your images, else its gonna just looks like its some iphone images.

Have fun with your gears. Shoot long and prosper.