Jonathan Fleming's Blog

A Photography Blog

Posts Tagged ‘nikkor

Home Improvement Time!

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The wife decided to start sprucing up various rooms in our house this week. Had a friend come over and help paint the walls of one of our rooms in Tiffany blue. I played the lazy photographer husband while they did all the work =)

Gotta hurry! We have some friends coming in from Japan this weekend who will occupy this room during their stay.

Even Suki got involved…well, no more involved than I was actually. No, she’s not sleepy here. It’s just that every time I set my camera to rear curtain sync, she blinks! Oops!

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Nikon D300s + Nikkor AF 10.5mm DX // Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8

Written by Jonathan

August 11, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Suki and Me… [and video on the D300s!]

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Some people who only know Suki from her photos tend to think that she’s a larger dog. I’ll admit that I try to use angles and perspectives that make her appear larger than she is, but Shiba Inus are definitely small dogs. Not lap dog small, but not big either. I say they’re perfectly sized! The image above should give you a clear view of Suki’s relative size. Suki and I were strolling through the city when this reflective glass caught my attention. I actually like how the dirty glass distorted the photo and made it hazy and low-contrast. Looks sort of “filmy.”

See? Suki is pretty little. This image is sort of an optical illusion, however, as the parking meter is a few feet closer to the camera than she is, making it appear much larger than her. The whole reason we were taking a stroll through town with my camera was, of course, to catch an image of her for week 30 of my 52 week project. We used the art we found on this wall here for the final image. Check it out here!

And now for more randomness. Got together with some good friends last night. When the dancing started, I decided to skip the stills and give video a try again on my D300s:

I’m obviously not much a videographer, but for casual clips, it’s great having video in my DSLR for the simple fact that I can use any of my lenses. Notice the shallow depth of field I achieved using my 50mm f/1.4 wide open for the video, which made focus very difficult but added a lot of depth to the recording (just make sure you switch the video to 720p resolution). Now I wish I had brought my fisheye to the party!

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Images and Video: Nikon D300s + Nikkor AFS 50mm f/1.4G

Written by Jonathan

August 2, 2010 at 11:59 am

Paisley’s Photo Shoot

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Spent this past Sunday afternoon with this adorable little girl and her family. Can someone be any more photogenic than this? My strategy for this shoot was: no strategy. Just follow little Paisley around and see what happens. The result was an amazing little adventure all around the house, climbing different surfaces, discovering her favorite toys, and capturing the cutest little expressions.

Paisley is just gushing with life, joy, intelligence, energy, and curiosity. She has the most wonderful spirit I have ever seen in a child. The first shot I took of her that day I immediately showed to her. She understood right away what the camera was all about, and every so often during our time together, she’d stop, walk towards me, and make me turn my camera around to show her the result. It’s like she was my model and my art director =)

Kept the gear simple, using one lens the entire time: The new Nikkor AFS 50mm f/1.4G that my wife just bought me this past week. Great timing, as it’s the perfect lens for the job. If you’re a crop sensor shooter that likes taking portraits, especially in available light, the 50mm is a must-have. Brought in a camera-mounted flash for fill at times, and that was it!

Please See more images of the shoot on my website here: Paisley’s Photo Shoot

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Nikon D300s + Nikkor AFS 50mm f/1.4G

Written by Jonathan

July 26, 2010 at 10:47 am

My Anniversary Gift!

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This morning, while getting ready for work, I noticed that my wife left something behind with my name on it by the door. A shiny new Nikkor AFS 50mm f/1.4G. I wish I had the day off so I could spend more time with it, but for now I just quickly took a snap of Suki waiting patiently to be let out into the yard. Thank you Bridget! Happy anniversary =)

Nikon D300s+ Nikkor AFS 50mm f/1.4G at f/1.4, 1/160 second ISO200

Written by Jonathan

July 22, 2010 at 6:59 am

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

Don’t Start with a Plan

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When I first started Suki’s 52 week project this year, I tried my best to have a very specific concept in mind for each image, planning each shot as meticulously as I could before we even headed out the door. I’m nearly halfway through the project now, and I’ve learned that having a plan is not always the best way to get a great shot. Reminds me of what Jay Maisel, a highly regarded NY based photographer once said:

Not knowing what you’re going to shoot is the great adventure. If you go out knowing what you’re going to shoot, the great adventure is gone. Most people work to have a plan; I’ve worked to not have a plan for shooting when I go out.

I love this advice, and I’ve done my best to incorporate the principle behind it not only in my 52 week project, but in my photography in general.

Nowadays, the only planning I do when I go out to take a photo of Suki is deciding the location. Once we’ve settled into a spot, I then start scanning the area and coming up with ideas. It forces you to be observant, to look intently for interesting compositions, lines, and light. Instead of locking down on a specific plan, you find yourself exploring with a free and clear mind, and exploration and adventure is what makes photography great.

My best images of Suki this year are the ones where no planning was involved, where I’d just say “hey, let’s go to [insert location here] and try to get some sort of shot of Suki.” The images you see in this post, for example, are from a series I shot of her last Sunday during an early morning stroll. No plan involved. Just me, some camera gear, and a Shiba Inu. We walked and walked until I saw an element of the environment that struck me. It’s a great way to approach your photography. Just make sure you always have your camera with you!

My Favorite Lenses

So lately I’ve decided that my two absolute favorite lenses in my bag right now are…..[drum-roll]…. The Nikkor 70-300mm VR (used in the top image) and the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 (used in the third photo from the top). Yup. My longest telephoto and my widest wide-angle. Both allow me to greatly exaggerate the perception of distance in an image. Want to really add some impact and dimension to your photos? Move further away from your subject and rack out your telephoto lens. Using an ultra-wide? Move in super close to your subject. Experiment and see what happens!

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Camera Info:
Nikon D300s
1st image: Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR, 260mm f/8, 1/400 second, ISO200
3rd image: Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8, 11mm, f/16, 1/320 second, ISO200
CLS triggered SB-800 + SB-900 used in both images

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!