Jonathan Fleming's Blog

A Photography Blog

Posts Tagged ‘embarcadero

Going Wide

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Nikon D700 + Nikkor AFS 16-35mm f/4G VRII at 20mm f/4, 1/80 second ISO3200

What a great time to be a Nikon shooter. The company has been releasing an exciting variety of new high-performance glass into its lineup, and I couldn’t help but be a part of the action! Just picked up the new Nikkor 16-35mm f/4 VRII, and I’m in love.


Nikon D700 + Nikkor AFS 16-35mm f/4G VRII at 16mm f/4, 1/320 second ISO1600

Of course, with an optic this wide, you have to really push in tight for portraits. This is Suki’s “uh, get that big fat lens out of my face” look.


Nikon D700 + Nikkor AFS 16-35mm f/4G VRII at 16mm f/4, 1/100 second ISO400

This is Suki’s “I’m not feelin’ being on top of this garbage can and am certainly not going to pretend that I’m enjoying it, so don’t bother” look.


Nikon D700 + Nikkor AFS 16-35mm f/4G VRII at 16mm f/4, 1/100 second ISO400

…and this is Suki thinking “what’s with the crooked horizon line in this shot? You’re killin’ me!” Ok not really….


Nikon D700 + Nikkor AFS 16-35mm f/4G VRII at 16mm f/4, 1/60 second ISO800

See? Suki is not as easy to work with as you might think!


Nikon D700 + Nikkor AFS 16-35mm f/4G VRII at 16mm f/4, 1/10 second ISO800

Anyway, besides being a definite go-to lens for my Suki Project, this thing will have a special place in my bag for travel, as well as city and landscape photography….


Nikon D700 + Nikkor AFS 16-35mm f/4G VRII at 16mm f/4, 1/30 second ISO6400

….or environmental portraits. I was also thinking of the 14-24 f/2.8 from Nikon, a legendary ultra wide, but size, weight, and cost considerations put me off. No regrets =)

Being a Tourist in My Own City

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[ Canon S90 at 6mm f/3.2 1/30 second ISO160 ]

Wow, had such a great time this weekend! Two great friends from Japan visited our home and stayed for a few days. We took them on a tour of the city, heading to the usual “tourist spots” as well as places we locals like to visit. Running around with them made me realize that I can’t even remember the last time I drove around SF just to see the sights. It was pretty fun actually! Ready for a long post with tons of images spanning the course of 3 days? Ok, here we go!

Day One…

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Life Without My Mid-Range Zoom

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Found an optical defect in one of the inner elements of my Tamron 17-50mm /f2.8 VC a couple weeks ago. As soon as I discovered the problem, I shipped the lens over to a Tamron service center. I promptly received notice from Tamron that the issue would be repaired under warranty, but I’m still waiting for the lens to return. At first I thought I’d have a real tough time without the lens, but I must say that so far, I don’t miss those mid-range focal lengths very much at all. I think it’s because the 17-50mm range just doesn’t give you a whole lot of control over the perception of space and distance in a photograph.

I usually like to either expand foreground and background elements using an ultra-wide lens, or compress the foreground and background using a long telephoto. An example of the latter is seen in the image above. Shot at 165mm, you can really see how compressed the elements in the frame are, giving Suki a really powerful presence in the photo. In contrast, check out a similar image shot at 78mm:

See? Not quite as dramatic, right? Even Suki is disappointed, as you can see by her facial expression. Now if you really want to isolate your subject from the background, try an even longer focal length:

Same location, only with my lens at 280mm. The background gets so compressed at this focal length that it becomes unrecognizable, which completely isolates Suki in the foreground. This is the kind of creative control that a telephoto zoom lens can give you. So the next time you’re out taking photos, think about what you’re trying to accomplish before you start rotating that zoom ring. Are you zooming because you’d rather stay in one spot instead of moving closer to your subject, or are you trying to alter the perception of space and distance in your image? It’s almost always best to consider the latter first.

Ok, so it’s not that I don’t want my Tamron 17-50 anymore. It’s usually the lens I grab first if I have no idea what I’m going out to shoot. But I know now that I can definitely live without that focal range.

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Camera Specs: Nikon D300s + Nikkor AFS 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR

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