Jonathan Fleming's Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘cafe

The Saturday Morning “Ritual”

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Olympus PEN E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7  1/4000sec  ISO200

Before I get started with today’s entry, I just want to say thank you to everyone that took the time to read my previous blog post and leave a comment. My post entitled Revisiting Film Photography was featured on Freshly Pressed, the front page of WordPress.com. I was so excited to see all the comments start pouring in, not simply because I relished the extra attention to my site, but because of the content of the comments themselves. You shared your personal experiences with me, and it’s been fascinating to see the discussion that I started continue to grow through your stories.

Some of you reminisced about the shooting film back in the day, expressing a newfound interest in that dusty old SLR in your basements that you haven’t used in years. Others of you haven’t given film a try yet and expressed curiosity about using the medium. Some of you admitted to knowing little of photography and yet expressed interest and appreciation through your comments, while others you are active film shooters who shared your own great experiences with the format. Thank you all! It has truly been a pleasure reading your personal experiences!

So, Film vs Digital, what’s my final word on the subject? If you look at all my recent work, it’s pretty obvious that I do a lot of work with digital cameras. Is my recent experience with film going to change all that? Probably not. But the truth is, I just love photography. I’ll take pictures with anything that, well, takes pictures. I see the Film and Digital formats simply as two different ways of making art. So, film or digital? Answer: Yes.

Ok, back to this post:


Olympus PEN E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7  1/1000sec  ISO200

As much of a Philz and Blue Bottle addict that I am, I’ve been trying to visit some different cafes here in San Francisco to see where else I can get a stellar cup of coffee. We started the weekend this morning at Ritual Coffee Roasters on Valencia street.

With large, east-facing windows gracing the storefront, tons of beautiful light flooded the cafe. How could I possibly resist taking my camera out?


Olympus PEN E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7  1/250sec  ISO200

Here’s where Ritual’s drip coffee is individually brewed to order. Wait a minute now…maybe I should head to the hardware store, pick up some copper pipe and just make my own filter-holding contraption!


Olympus PEN E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/2  1/800sec  ISO200


Olympus PEN E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/2  1/500sec  ISO200

If I’m visiting a coffee-house for the very first time, I always try their drip first. If you can make me a killer drip, I’ll keep coming back for sure. The roast I chose was La Esperanza, described as “sweet and creamy, with flavors of butterscotch, Danish pastry, dried stonefruits and a lavender finish.” A one pound bag of whole bean Esperanza will set you back a whopping $22.50.


Olympus PEN E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/2  1/4000sec  ISO200

My friends had lattes, complete with the obligatory frothing art on top =)


Olympus PEN E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/2  1/4000sec  ISO200


Olympus PEN E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/2  1/2500sec  ISO200

Verdict? The drip was awesome, among the best I’ve had in fact. But I paid handsomely for it, so regular visits here will not be a wise “Ritual” for my bank account.


Olympus PEN E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/2  1/60sec  ISO200

We didn’t stay long at Ritual, because we needed to get breakfast elsewhere. The coffee perfectly complimented the famous morning buns at Tartine Bakery. Sorry Tartine, but your drip coffee leaves a lot to be desired. Every time we go, we see a bunch of other people in there, standing in line with their cups of coffee from other cafes. Hilarious =)

Written by Jonathan

April 30, 2011 at 11:34 pm

Lazy Weekend With the 85mm 1.4

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Nikon D700 | Nikkor AF 85mm f/1.4D

Started last weekend right with a trip to the cafe. Whoops, two posts in a row that show pictures of the same exact place! Shows you how often I go out for coffee I guess.

Since I’m shooting a wedding pretty soon, I decided to ask a favor of my cousin Josh, a New York based photographer. He was kind enough to ship some key gear out to me, including his most cherished Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D. That’s love right there.

Normally I take my E-PL2 with me for weekend errand running, but I was eager to give this 85mm a try, so along it came to Blue Bottle.

Ok, first off, I’m not used to this focal length. My mind’s eye tends to see wider, between my favorite 24mm through around 50mm.  When I use my 24mm f/1.4 or 50mm f/1.4, for instance, I can compose at either focal length in my head before I even raise the camera to my eye. I can even “see” 200mm in my head, since that’s my other frequently used focal length. When I first started shooting with the 85, however, I kept expecting it to be wider than it is.  I’d raise it to my eye and always find myself to be too close to my subject, cutting off areas I wanted to have in the frame (the top photo is an example), so I found myself taking a few steps back every time I raised the camera to my eye. Felt goofy and pretty awkward at first, hah.

It’s that guy again with the hat and the book stand! He must come here every day or something….

I can see why many dub this lens the “cream machine.” At f/1.4, wherever you put your focus point comes out sharp as anything, with everything behind it liquefying into some mighty attractive-looking bokeh. If I ever decide to buy this lens for myself, I’ll leave it at f/1.4 every time.

It’s a great lens for portraits…..of your friends making silly faces. Sorry Dez ;)

Taking a walk with Suki, I was again having a weird time with the 85.  I’m used to getting in close with wider glass when shooting her, so again I found myself raising the camera up, oops, taking a few steps back, composing again.

This thing excels out on the street. Color, contrast, sharpness…the last thing you need to worry about with this optic is whether or not it performs well.

This lens is a legend. If you think you want one, go for it! As for me, I’m not sure I need to own one right now, since I can just borrow it (heh heh).  Thank you Josh…sorry in advance if I delay a little in sending it back ;)

__________________

Nikon D700 + Nikkor AF 85mm f/1.4D

Written by Jonathan

April 11, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Blue Bottle Mint Plaza

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Olympus E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7

Early one morning, I  hit up the Mint street Blue Bottle cafe with some friends.  Just outside we were greeted by some empty tables and these high school chemistry lab chairs, which cracked me up. They did seem to fit the cafe’s styling though.

The cafe is small, but surrounded by huge windows that reach all the the way up to the super-high ceiling. The early morning sun was pouring through the windows from the east, while at the same time bouncing off the exterior of the building, hitting the grey building across the street, and radiating back through the windows again. This created lighting that any photographer would drool over.

We arrived just as they opened, so the place was pretty empty. This one man got comfortable right away, putting his hat up, placing his book on a stand, and enjoying a hand-made brew. Wish I had more time to just chill at cafes…we were getting our coffees to go!

Good friends, good coffee, beautiful lighting. What a perfect morning.

Photos courtesy of my Olympus PEN E-PL2 with a Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens, a combo that just keeps growing on me. It’s just so easy to take this camera everywhere. I can pull it out in public places without even being noticed as I snap away.

These are all out-of-camera JPEGs. I recently installed an update to Adobe Camera Raw that’ll allow me to start playing with the camera’s RAW data. We’ll see what becomes of it =)

Written by Jonathan

April 8, 2011 at 8:39 am

A Night at the Jazz Cafe in Berkeley

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[ Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 50mm f/2.8 1/25 second ISO800]

This happened a little while ago, but I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to post about another of my wife’s recent performances. She spent some time this year training at the Jazz School in Berkeley, California. The training included a performance at the school’s Jazz Cafe, where she had the opportunity to put on a show in front of a full house, together with three very talented instrumentalists.

I roamed around with my latte in one hand and camera in the other, snapping away as the performance continued:

[ Nikon D300s + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 at 11mm f/2.8 1/40 sec ISO1600]

[ Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 50mm f/2.8 1/50 sec ISO1600 ]

[ Nikon D300s + Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G at f/2 1/160 sec ISO1600 ]

Bridget sang two beautiful jazz pieces!

[ Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 50mm f/2.8 1/60 sec ISO800]

Some other people sang too, but I didn’t come for them ;)

[ Nikon D300s + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 at 11mm f/2.8 1/30 sec ISO1600]

The crowd actually goes way farther back than I’ve shown here. It was packed inside! Many in the audience were friends and family that showed up to support Bridget’s portion of the performances.

[ Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 50mm f/2.8 1/20 sec ISO800]

I’m always all for my wife pursuing her love of music whenever she can. I know that in photography, you gotta keep shooting to keep improving, and  it’s important spend as much time as you can taking the kind of photographs that you enjoy taking in order to keep your passion for the craft alive. Same thing in the art of music it seems. Bridget seems to get better and better with every performance. One thing is for sure: wherever and whenever she performs, I’ll be right there with her, camera in hand.

Jazz at Epicenter Cafe

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If you live in San Francisco and love Jazz, great coffee, good food, and a nice selection of beer and wine, you must check out Epicenter Cafe. It’s a great place to kick back with your laptop and browse the web, get some studying done, or just hang out with friends.

The interior has a very “South of Market” industrial look to it, with modern furniture and art, waxed concrete flooring as well as exposed concrete pillars, electrical conduits, plumbing and air ducts.  During the day, tons of light floods in through large, floor-to-ceiling windows.

The live music, however, is the most important element! Every Sunday evening, the cafe hosts a “Jazz Jam,” which is basically the Jazz version of an open mic.  If you can play/sing Jazz and read a lead sheet, you’re free to perform. There was a great group there yesterday evening:

Chris (on trumpet you see below) is a friend of mine. We met with a bunch of other friends to see him jam with the other instrumentalists.

My wife also brought a few charts along and performed two pieces. I decided to video record the performances instead of taking stills. Used my D300s fitted with the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC for the two clips. I must say, Vibration Control makes a huge difference in steadiness when recording video while hand-holding a DSLR. Check out the clips below!

The first clip is her second performance, where she sang “On Green Dolphin Street.” Video was recorded in 720p resolution. The second clip is the song “September in the Rain,” accidentally recorded in a lower resolution. Oh well!

Jazz jam sessions are rare in San Francisco, so my wife and I were really excited about this opportunity. The band was thrilled with her performance (as was I), and invited her back with specific requests as well. Good job, honey. Truly beautiful!