On the Threshold of Winter (with the Asahi Takumar 85mm f/1.9)

I shot a performance of composer Michael Hersch's On the Threshold of Winter opera for the Peabody Institute in Baltimore. It was one of my first times shooting with the Asahi Takumar 85mm f/1.9 portrait lens, adapted as usual to my Sony a7ii via a $10 M42 screw-mount adapter. I was so happy with how it handled low light. The beautiful set design also helped...

Asahi Takumar 85mm f/1.9. Shutter 1/160, ISO 1250. The aperture was probably around 2.2 or so - it doesn't need to be stopped down much for nice sharpness.

This particular Takumar lens dates from the 1960s. Later versions of it got the Asahi "super-coating" and in the 1970s it was made in an f/1.8. From what I've read and seen, the f/1.8 is a little better - they improved what was already a great design. The differences seem pretty minor to me though, and I was content to save a little by going with the f/1.9 - I got one in pristine shape for about $300 from an American seller on eBay. Another shot with the lens was used by Vanderbilt University for the poster promoting the opera's upcoming performance there.

I love the bold word layout the designer used. The figure in the background is a work by sculptor Christopher Cairns. Shutter 1/125, ISO 1000, aperture around 2.5.

Soprano Ah Young Hong after getting her hands dirty. Asahi Takumar 85mm f/1.9. Shutter 1/125, ISO 1000, Aperture probably around f/2.8.

I also used my native Zeiss lenses for wider shots. The following was one of my favorites, which came at the end of the opera.

With the Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 ZA. Shutter 1/80, ISO 1250, aperture 4.0. The lighting was pretty much just a spotlight on the singer, which made composition fun - lots of black negative space to play with. Placing her in the upper half of the frame makes her look elevated somehow, running contrary to the obvious sense of exhaustion.

Another shot with the 55mm f/1.8 was used by the Baltimore Sun for their very enthusiastic review of the opera...

Shutter 1/60, ISO 800, aperture 2.8. Exquisite colors as usual from the 55mm.

Ah Young Hong

Promo shots I did for opera singer Ah Young Hong. This one was with the Helios 44-2 58mm, which can be very nice for overexposed shots.

Shutter: 1/40th, ISO: 1000. F-stop probably somewhere around 5.

We loved this outtake, done with the Helios 40-2 85mm next to one of the Juan Munoz sculptures outside of the Hirshhorn Museum.

Shutter: 1/500th, ISO: 80, f/1.5 to get the full swirly Helios bokeh.

One of the shots we were going for was something to use on the poster of an upcoming opera. The tone needed was dark and gritty, which was tough since our photoshoot was in the day and dark alleys weren't an option. But we found a good indoor wall of big stone bricks:

And with just a bit of editing the shot was grungy enough...

Asahi Takumar 135mm f/3.5 lens. Shutter: 1/50th, ISO: 1250, F-stop around 5.6.