Jonathan Fleming's Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘atx

A Little Photographic DIY

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It was out on the town again yesterday for Suki’s week 27 image for my 52 week project. This week I wanted to try adding an accent light into the mix, one that would provide some highlights around Suki and give the impression that she is being lit from behind by background elements. You can see a hint of this effect in the image above. Snoots are great for this. But I realized before we headed out that I don’t have a snoot for my speedlights! So I constructed my own snoot out of the finest of materials:

Here it is. Made of solid, 100% magazine paper, sealed at the seams with ultra-high-strength scotch tape and costing me a whopping fraction of a penny, this rig was placed behind Suki in the photo of her above. The snoot concentrated the light into a tight beam. Instead of spreading all over, the light just hits her back side and appears as highlights around the edges of her fur. It sort of gives the illusion that the headlight from the cable car behind her is lighting her. It’s a subtle detail for sure, but it definitely adds a great element to the image.

Here’s an example of the way a snoot shapes the light coming out of a flash head.

You can even shape the front end a little to create a sliver of light like so.

The biggest challenge for this last shoot was actually the crowds of people around us as we worked. We were approached constantly by people wanting to meet Suki and ask questions about her. Gathering in small crowds around us, they would step in and try to meet her between takes. Amazingly, she was able to focus despite all the distraction.

After all that work, it was time for a leisurely stroll through the Embaracero Center in San Francisco. I enjoyed a cappuccino while Suki sniffed every corner of the area. Such a great area of the city for photographs!

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Camera Specs for top image: Nikon D300s + Tokina 50-135 f/2.8 @ 125mm f/4, 1/80 second ISO640. (Aperture priority -0.3EV)  SB-900 through softbox camera left (TTL +1.7EV) SB-800 snooted behind subject (SU-4 optical slave, 1/8 power).

Bottom Image: Nikon D300s + Nikkor DX 10.5mm fisheye

Behind the Scenes

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This week’s project shot of Suki was pretty difficult. I didn’t have any time to take the shot all week, and this holiday weekend has been booked with activity. Finally had some free time in the afternoon this Sunday, and a bunch of friends wanted to get together for some hiking. So we decided to bring Suki along, and figured we’d get a shot of her while on the trail. Well, we got to the end of the trail, and I still had nothing! So I handed an SB-900 to my cousin, and took an impromptu, dramatically lit shot of Suki for week 21 of 52. See the final image on my Flickr page.

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Nikon D300s + Tokina 50-135mm f/2.8 at 135mm f/18 ISO100 1/320 Second // SB-900 gelled warm, TTL, +2.0EV

Written by Jonathan

May 30, 2010 at 11:31 pm

Tokina 50-135mm f/2.8 AT-X 535 PRO DX

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(Taken with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3)

My wife is keenly aware of my equipment wish list, and came home from work yesterday with several photographic goodies for me, including this fast telephoto from Tokina. My fast zoom kit is now complete, with three constant aperture lenses covering an 11-135mm (16.5-200mm full-frame equivalent) range.

What I love about my three-lens system is how compact the optics are compared to their full-frame counterparts. This 50-135mm f/2.8, for instance, is a lot smaller than I thought it would be at 5.32 inches in length, weighing 1.86 lbs. To get similar focal length coverage with a constant aperture on a full-frame Nikon camera, you’d need a lens like the $2400 Nikkor 70-200mm VRII, which is a whopping 8.1 inches long at a hefty 3.2 lbs. To me, this is a big advantage of the DX system: smaller, lighter optics that make for better mobility and portability. Not to mention affordability: I picked up all three of my third-party constant aperture zooms for less than the price of the new Nikkor 70-200 VRII alone (Tokina 11-16, Tamron 17-50 VC, Tokina 50-135).

I shot a bunch of images last night to make sure I had a good copy of the Tokina 50-135, and am astounded at the results so far. This is one sharp optic! It relies on my camera’s focus motor to drive focus, so it doesn’t focus as fast or as quiet as an AF-S lens. I find the focus motor in my D300s to be pretty fast, however, and had no problems tracking my dog around the house in low light.

(Nikon D300s + Tokina 50-135mm f/2.8 at 85mm f/5 ISO400 1/60 Second)

Like my Tokina 11-16, this lens features very high quality construction, with a rugged all-metal casing and exceptional fit and finish. The zoom and focus rings are well-damped and move with buttery-smooth precision, and the included (but not removable) tripod collar is also a plus for me. What’s missing? VR and AF-S, but at the price I (er…the wife) paid, I think I can live without those features for now. I really hope Nikon releases some DX lenses in this range, but I’m not holding my breath!

There’s relatively little information on this Tokina on the internet incidentally, which I find strange since it’s so excellent. In fact, from the research I did before receiving it as a gift, it appears that Tokina discontinued this lens.

Update:

Want to see more images taken with the Tokina 50-135mm? Head on over to my Flickr page. I just got back from a trip to Japan, where I used this lens extensively. You can view my Japan set by clicking here. Enjoy!

A Sunset in San Francisco (more shooting with Tokina 11-16)

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Nikon D90 + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 at 16mm f/11, ISO200 1/250 Second

Nikon D90 + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 at 16mm f/11, ISO200 1/250 Second

The sky was looking promising last night after work, so my wife and I headed out to Ocean Beach in San Francisco before the sun went down, spending most of our time on the beach in an area of ruins; the remains of the once glorious Sutro Baths.  It was also interesting to sit and people-watch, as couples snuggled together for the sunset, and others ran around on the beach, enjoying the the warm temperature.

Nikon D90 + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8

Nikon D90 + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 at 11mm f/4.5, ISO320 1/60 Second, Handheld

The sky was so beautiful, and the weather was perfect. We stayed and hiked around till past dusk, snapping off shots and just relaxing and taking in the beauty of light, held and radiated by sweeping clouds.  This area was truly a photographers playground, with so many angles and composition possibilities. We’ll have to return again and again!

Nikon D90 + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8

Nikon D90 + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 at 13mm f/16, ISO 200, 30.0 Seconds

My wife and I have been having a blast going on photo outings.  Often times she’ll make the suggestion “hey, let’s go shooting!” Which for me, is always beautiful thing to hear.  In fact, having her with me makes things a whole lot easier when I’m trying to get shots. She’s become very familiar with all of my gear (probably because before I bought the gear I talked about how much I wanted to buy said gear), and therefore I can, for example, execute lens changes quite fast with her assistance.

Last night was a perfect example. “Honey, I need the 70-300!” She quickly pulls out the long zoom, and at the same exact time as I rotate my lens off my camera mount she removes the cap off the mount of the long zoom lens and sticks it onto the back of the lens I’m holding. She then takes my lens while handing me hers, and I quickly mount the new one. We can usually do this in a pretty fluid motion.

Most importantly though, it’s the time we spend together as a couple that I cherish even more than the photography.