Shooting fashion portraits in Sicily with the Canon EOS R6

Tancerz baletowy, Lee Jay Hoy, pozuje przed klasycznymi budynkami w Palermo na Sycylii.

Fotograf mody Wanda Martin była pierwszą profesjonalistką, która fotografowała aparatem Canon EOS R6 – uwieczniała tancerza baletowego – Lee Jay Hoya – w klasycznym otoczeniu Palermo na Sycylii. Zrobione aparatem Canon EOS R6 z obiektywem Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM, ogniskowa 24 mm, 1/2000 s, f/2,8 i ISO 320. © Wanda Martin

The work of fashion photographer and Canon Ambassador Wanda Martin is inspired by Romanticism, so when commissioned to shoot a fashion editorial with ballet dancer Lee Jay Hoy, she was drawn to the lavish and ornate buildings of the Italian city of Palermo, the capital of Sicily.

"Palermo has such beautiful classical buildings – exactly the kind of environment I like shooting in," says Wanda, a Hungarian photographer based in London with many high-profile editorial and commercial clients. "I'm inspired by portraiture from the 17th to 19th centuries, especially the Pre-Raphaelites. Like those artists, I tend to use natural or ambient light for interiors – the atmosphere of those paintings is what I'm aiming to capture."

Dwoje tancerzy baletowych opierających się o ścianę.

Elementy Palazzo Conte Federico z Palermo powstały w XII wieku, dzięki czemu stanowią idealne tło dla inspirowanych sztuką portretów tworzonych przez Wandę. Zrobione aparatem Canon EOS R6 z obiektywem Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM, 24 mm, 1/100 s, f/2,8 i ISO 1000. © Wanda Martin

Wanda Martin korzysta z aparatu Canon EOS R6 do fotografowania tancerza w bogato udekorowanej sali.

Fotografowanie tancerzy na atrakcyjnym tle Palazzo stanowiło test autofokusu, szybkości i wydajności aparatu Canon EOS R6 w różnych warunkach oświetleniowych.

Capturing fast-moving ballet dancers in low light, and at times having to freeze the dancer's movements, requires a fast camera with excellent AF, low-light capabilities and good dynamic range. Wanda, who usually shoots with a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, was invited to put the Canon EOS R6 through its paces.

The latest addition to Canon's Full Frame mirrorless range not only boasts a maximum frame rate of up to 20fps1 (12fps with the mechanical shutter) but also performs excellently in low light, offers enhanced face, eye, and body tracking AF, and delivers 8-stops of Image Stabilisaton depending on the lens used.

Drawing inspiration from classical buildings and ballet

Wanda's two main shoot locations were the opulent, sumptuously furnished Palazzo Conte Federico and the Teatro Massimo, Palermo's grand 19th century opera house and the largest theatre in Italy.

Wanda had two RF lenses in her kitbag – the Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM and the Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM, two of Canon's trinity of essential pro lenses for EOS R System cameras.

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Wanda says she always prefers using zooms. "I like working fast, and these professional zoom lenses give you the versatility and dynamism to go from portrait to full-length in a heartbeat," she says. "The two RF lenses were fast, with f/2.8 maximum aperture and powerful optical Image Stabilization. They just help you stay creative and react immediately in all conditions, and create beautiful and unbelievably sharp images."

Wanda prepared for the shoot methodically, as she always does, but was open to letting it develop in unexpected ways. "I always have a vision, a mood and a story I try to capture," she says. "I usually put mood boards together, but the shoot depends on the model's personality and the chemistry between us."

Tancerz baletowy – Lee Jay Hoy – pozuje na podłodze pięknie udekorowanej sali.

Wanda mówi, że uwielbiała współpracować z Lee. „Jest bardzo aktywną, interesującą postacią. Czerpiemy inspirację z baletu klasycznego, ale ze współczesnym podejściem”. Zrobione aparatem Canon EOS R6 z obiektywem Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM, 24 mm, 1/160 s, f/3,2 i ISO 1250. © Wanda Martin

As expected, the lighting was a challenge in both locations. In the Teatro Massimo, Wanda could use the stage lighting setups, but backstage there was only ambient light and she was shooting at ISO6400 and above. The Canon EOS R6 has an ISO range expandable up to ISO 204,800, offering incredible performance in such low-light situations.

Wanda's style is to shoot images that are atmospheric and still, but she also took images of Lee jumping or pirouetting in both the Palazzo's rooms and on the theatre's stage. "I don't usually work with dancers, so it was a challenge to capture the movement and the fluidity," she says.

Tancerz baletowy, Lee Jay Hoy, uchwycony w powietrzu podczas skoku w bogato udekorowanym pomieszczeniu.

„Mogłam łatwo śledzić oczy, ciało i głowę mojego obiektu” – mówi Wanda. „Funkcja śledzenia twarzy pozwoliła mi skutecznie uchwycić dynamiczne, pełne emocji pozy”. Zrobione aparatem Canon EOS R6 z obiektywem Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM, ogniskowa 24 mm, 1/1300 s, f/2,8 i ISO 2000. © Wanda Martin

Freezing action with 20fps and 8-stops of IS

Having used cameras such as the Canon EOS 5D Mark II (now succeeded by the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV) and the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III, Wanda immediately felt at home with the Canon EOS R6. "I felt very comfortable and could start shooting with it straight away," she says. But the camera also offered features she hadn't used before and expanded her creative options.

"Although I'm totally used to the weight of EOS-1 series cameras, it was a refreshing experience to shoot with such a light camera," she says. "I could imagine the Canon EOS R6 as a camera I could always carry with me – it's perfect for documentary or portraiture."

The Canon EOS R6's face-tracking autofocus worked perfectly, following Lee's every movement. Building on powerful AF systems seen across the Canon professional imaging range, the EOS R6 has Dual Pixel CMOS AF with face, body and eye tracking and up to 100% coverage vertically and horizontally when using the automatic tracking modes. There are up to 6,072 AF areas for making precise manual selections and you can use the AF joystick to quickly home in on a focal area during a dynamic shoot.

Ballet dancers move quickly – the perfect pose or a mid-air leap is often captured in just a couple of frames – but the ability to shoot at up to 20fps1 with the Canon EOS R6's silent electronic shutter gave Wanda more options. "The challenge of this shoot was capturing fast movements," she says. "Being able to work with speeds up to 20fps made it easier to capture that one decisive moment."

Beauty in motion: first video shoot with the Canon EOS R6

Fashion filmmaker and Canon Ambassador Javier Cortés films a dance journey through Sicily with the full-frame mirrorless Canon EOS R6.

The camera's 8-stops2 of Image Stabilization, possible depending on the lens used, also allowed Wanda to shoot with much longer exposures and without a tripod. "I was told you could shoot handheld for at least two seconds and I said, 'No way!' In the Palazzo, I managed to shoot handheld for four seconds and the background was still sharp. I couldn't believe it."

Tancerz stoi w drzwiach pięknie udekorowanej sali, z ramionami rozmytymi wskutek ruchu.

Wanda użyła 4-sekundowej ekspozycji, aby uchwycić wrażenie ruchu tancerza. Mimo że zdjęcie zostało zrobione z ręki z tak długim czasem naświetlania, tło jest nadal ostre. Zrobione aparatem Canon EOS R6 z obiektywem Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM, 15 mm, 4 s, f/14 i ISO 100. © Wanda Martin

Tancerz baletowy – Lee Jay Hoy – leży na kanapie, patrząc w stronę aparatu.

Wymarzone ujęcie Wandy w stylu starych mistrzów. „Odwracany ekran bardzo ułatwiał szybką pracę z innej perspektywy” – mówi Wanda. Zrobione aparatem Canon EOS R6 z obiektywem Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM, 24 mm, 1/85 s, f/2,8 i ISO 2500. © Wanda Martin

Pushing the boundaries of creative freedom

Wanda also had the opportunity to use a Vari-Angle screen for the first time, and it helped her get one shot she'd been dreaming of. "The Old Masters used to paint their muses lying on a sofa in a classical position, and I had the idea of photographing a male model in a similar way," she says. "Lee lay on a sofa and there was some nice golden light hitting his face and upper body."

When looking over the images captured in Sicily, Wanda felt particularly happy with the quality of the files, finding the dynamic range "impressive, with all the details in the highlights and shadows." This was the case even in backlit images and shots with areas of bright light in otherwise dimly lit rooms.

Dwoje tancerzy baletowych pozuje na scenie Teatro Massimo na Sycylii.

Aparat Canon EOS R6 doskonale się sprawdził nawet w trudnych warunkach słabego oświetlenia w Teatro Massimo. Zrobione aparatem Canon EOS R6 z obiektywem Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM, 24 mm, 1/800 s, f/3,2 i ISO 3200. © Wanda Martin

Fotograf mody Wanda Martin z aparatem Canon EOS R6.

Wanda odkryła, że model Canon EOS R6 poszerzył jej kreatywne możliwości i umożliwił realizację artystycznej wizji. „Wyzwanie polegało przede wszystkim na uchwyceniu dynamiki i ruchu tancerza, z zachowaniem malarskiego charakteru ujęcia, który tak lubię, i zachowaniem odpowiedniej perspektywy. Jestem bardzo zadowolona z efektu pracy”.

Most importantly, Wanda says the Canon EOS R6 gave her greater creative freedom and allowed her to push her boundaries. "I like not to think about the technicalities too much. I don't want to worry about whether it's too dark, or if my images will be too noisy or blurry. I need a tool in my hands that makes my life easier and helps me capture a story I want to tell – and as fast as possible.

"With the EOS R6, you can shoot in low light at a very high ISO, you can lower your shutter speed and still shoot handheld, and I also just love the versatility of it being a perfect video camera too. I found everything I really need in a camera."

David Clark

Wanda Martin's kitbag

The key kit pros use to take their photographs

Zestaw sprzętowy Wandy Martin


Canon EOS R6

Next-generation full-frame mirrorless camera, outstanding for both stills and video with impressive low-light performance and intelligent AF. "I especially loved the high ISO performance and the face-tracking AF," says Wanda.


Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM

Canon's fastest ultra-wide-angle zoom, boasting a Nano USM motor, 5-stops of Image Stabilization plus 3 Aspherical and 2 UD elements for stunning sharpness. Wanda says it helps her create "beautiful and unbelievably sharp images".

Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM

One of Canon's trinity of essential pro RF lenses, the Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM boasts a fast aperture and Image Stabilization plus a Nano USM motor for silent focusing. "I like working fast, and professional zoom RF lenses give you the versatility and dynamism to go from portrait to full length in a heartbeat," says Wanda.

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    1. *Shooting speed may vary depending on the battery type, the use of a battery grip or Wi-Fi, and operating temperature. For further details see specifications.
    2. 8-stops based on the CIPA standard with RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM at a focal length of 105mm