Posted on FaceBook looking for volunteers to model for me for free and I give them the photos for free and some people agreed to that so I want to be prepared and at least take the right gear to the scene. Here is what I have:

Camera: Nikon D-810
Lenses: 35mm, f1.8 , 85mm, f 1.8 and 24-70mm f2.8

And here are some sample shots I like to be able to practice on them?

enter image description here

This shot originally from here - the main site link is dead but the photo appears in many other places without attribution.

and this type...full body length:

enter image description here

from here

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From here - may not be original source.

It is only 2 months I have owned my first camera so not too experienced but my thought was to take the 85mm f1.8 and put the camera on f 1.8 and focus on the person and shoot :) But what is your suggestions for taking shots like this based on the gear I have

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It's generally considered appropriate to cite the sources for those images as, based on your question, we know they're not yours. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 11:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ See: meta.photo.stackexchange.com/a/1806/472 \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 11:21
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ You're going to want to use a small lightweight lens for when you have to leap out of the path of an oncoming freight train! \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt Grum
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 12:41

2 Answers 2


I think you'll be best off with the 24-70mm zoom. You're going to want a smaller aperture than f/1.8 anyway -- at 10 feet, the 85mm set to f/1.8 will give you only a few inches of depth of field. Your example images have a lot more DOF than that. Using the zoom will give you a lot more flexibility with respect to focal length, and also let you change focal length instantly, so you can experiment to get the look that you're after.

One thing you haven't mentioned is lighting. The subjects in your first example are pretty clearly lit by something other than the overcast sky in the background, and I'd guess that's true of the third example as well. Adding lighting to the mix may be more complexity than you're ready for if you're just starting out, but without at least considering lighting you might wonder why your shots don't come out looking the way the examples do even when you match the other aspects of the shot. Take a look at the Strobist web site's "Lighting 101" for a great introduction to lighting.

At the very least, if you're shooting in natural light you'll want to be prepared for different lighting conditions. Visit the site ahead of time and find some spots that will be sunny and some that will be in partial and full shade, so you can control the light. Choose the time of day according to the kind of light you're hoping for. Think about what you'll do if it's a sunny day or an overcast day.

  • \$\begingroup\$ yes, just whatever sun light is, Ok I will take the 24-70 one as the main lens on the camera, It is just hard to get bokeh for it so far for me where as with 85mm I take a picture and instantly it is somehow bokeh! \$\endgroup\$
    – Brandon
    Commented Feb 5, 2015 at 14:08

The most suitable lens of your kit is the one that took the best/most promising images when you scouted the rail road track location beforehand.

The first image has an interesting background with buildings and a bridge in addition to the railroad. It adds to the image. A wider lens can include more of the background and the surroundings.

The second one only has the rail road in it. The surroundings aren't particularly interesting. A longer lens sells the effect of her walking down the very long rail road track better than a wider lens.

As you can see "on location" quite unsurprisingly depends on the location. Visit the location a few days earlier to check if there's something like a bridge or if it's mostly just railroad. I guess you know the location and you have probably seen it several times before, but have you seen it through the lens? Scouting the location twice can make sense if you visit it at different times of the day, with the sun at different positions throwing different shadows.

Even if you lived next to these tracks for a couple of years, go out there with your camera and lenses to see what works and what does not.

Just some thoughts on the images you posted (not sure if this should be a comment):

  1. It is technically well made, but the angle makes me feel like everything falls over (to the left). The angles on the left make it a very dynamic scene, but the intimate moment on the right doesn't tell the same story. It doesn't quite work for me.
  2. If she looked back at the camera, it would turn this good image into a great image.
  3. The electric guitar doesn't make too much sense. The dark top corners are distracting. And the face expression is...er, is there an expression at all? Worst picture of the 3.
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes my location is mostly similar to the second image, surrounding are not pretty or interesting. I really like your idea about second image too, if she looked back would make it better. \$\endgroup\$
    – Brandon
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 19:19

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