Jonathan Fleming's Blog

A Photography Blog

Posts Tagged ‘shiba

A Shiba’s Life

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Life is pretty good for this Shiba Inu. The day begins on whatever soft surface she decides to sleep on through the night.

“Please don’t bug me with that camera.”

Next is usually some dog-centric outing, like a run along the beach:

In return, she has to tolerate her photo-geek dad chasing her around with cameras and lights. I think she gave me as much attitude as she could in the photo below. Can’t you see it on her face?

And of course, the day always ends where it began:

Yup, a good life for a Shiba.

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Images: Nikon D700 | Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G AFS

Written by Jonathan

November 27, 2011 at 11:27 pm

Return of the Suki

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I am happy to report that Suki has completely recovered from her recent illness.  A long stroll in Golden Gate Park ensued, with no itching and scratching I might add:


Fuji X100 (all images)


Fuji X100 | 1/25 sec, f/2, ISO 3200

I am Suki the Shiba Inu, and I am way too cool for the cone of shame.

Written by Jonathan

July 13, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Fuji X100: Crazy Dynamic Range

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Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/600 sec, f/11, ISO 200

One of the things that frustrates me most about compact cameras is that their dynamic range is so limited compared to DSLRs. Not so with the Fuji X100. It  sports a larger, APS-C sized sensor for dynamic range no small-sensor compact or even m4/3 camera can touch. In addition, when you set the camera to auto-dynamic range and let the it control your ISO, the X100 works some serious magic, expertly juggling highlights and shadows in extreme lighting conditions with surprisingly natural results.

This weekend I threw some tough, contrasty scenes at the X100 to see what it could do. The image above is a good example. There’s some really hard sunlight hitting the side of the building, and the side facing away from the sun was in shadow. Notice, however, that there’s detail all over the frame, from the brightest portions of the sun-facing windows to the insides of those dark balconies. I think a couple of the windows at the top of the building are clipped, but it still looks very natural.


Fuji X100 – 23mm,1/680 sec, f/2, ISO 800

I purposefully looked for hard light next to dark shadows this weekend. I know for sure that my EPL2 would  have clipped highlights like crazy in the image above, but again, detail everywhere with the X100.


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/80 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200

Even though light from the ground is illuminating the underside of this palm, the leaves were still much darker than the sky. Great balance here straight from the camera.


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/900 sec, f/2.8, ISO 400

The pavement here is really hot in contrast to the dark tones on the train, yet there’s still detail on both areas of the frame.


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/450 sec, f/11, ISO 800

How’s this for contrasty? If you look really close, you can see that the hard shadow on the right of the frame is not clipped, there’s some detail from the blue window frame in there. Wow.


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/2,200 sec, f/5.6, ISO 800

This one was taken in mid-day sunlight. You might notice the seemly odd ISO choice of 800, however. The camera is automatically underexposing to protect the highlights  (sky and and sidewalk) and using the high ISO setting to bring out shadow detail. It works extremely well. Nikon and Canon DSLRs do something similar with their Active D-Lighting and Highlight Tone Priority systems, respectively.


Fuji X100 – 23mm, Program AE, 1/640 sec, f/9, ISO 400


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/800 sec, f/8, ISO 800


Fuji X100 – 23mm,  1/1,800 sec, f/8, ISO 800


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/1,100 sec, f/11, ISO 800


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/640 sec, f/2, ISO 400

You know, I don’t typically seek out contrasts in tone like this. Doing so was a fun exercise.


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/500 sec, f/2, ISO 400 -2/3EV


Fuji X100 – 23mm,  1/450 sec, f/6.4, ISO 400


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/480 sec, f/4, ISO 400 -1EV


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/400 sec, f/2, ISO 400 -1/3EV


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/60 sec, f/5.6, ISO 640


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/250 sec, f/2, ISO 400

Just some random portraits from the weekend. Skin tones look absolutely dead on with the X100, even using Auto White Balance.


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/70 sec, f/8, ISO 200


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/450 sec, f/8, ISO 200

Still tweaking the camera’s image settings to get the JPEGs looking the way I want them. I think I’m almost there.

More random shooting from the weekend:


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/170 sec, f/2, ISO 400 -2/3EV


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/110 sec, f/2.8, ISO 400


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/950 sec, f/2.8, ISO 800 -1.3EV


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/600 sec, f/2, ISO 200


Fuji X100 – 23mm, 1/320 sec, f/2, ISO 400 -2/3EV

That’s it! Just another quick note: I’ve heard lots of bad things about the camera’s firmware and menu interface. To be sure, it does seem quirky at times, but I can’t say I’m all that bothered by it. Somehow I just have a blast with the camera every time I pick it up. I do get the sense that this is not a camera for everyone, however. I think its really a matter of knowing thyself before you buy.

One thing kinda bugs me though:

The camera has film simulation modes. Provia is supposed to be a standard mode, Astia is supposed to reproduce softer tones with less contrast and saturation. Strange thing is, pictures I take in Astia are definitely more contrasty and saturated than images taken in Provia. What gives? Did a switcheroo happen when the firmware was written? Is Provia supposed to be Astia and Astia Provia? Wierd.

Written by Jonathan

June 13, 2011 at 1:00 pm

The Blue Bottle Kiosk

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Olympus E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7

Time off work for a visit to the doctor’s on a Friday. Gotta love it. After my appointment, I had some time to kill before picking up the wife from work, so I decided to coffee up.

Tucked away along a small city street in the heart of Hayes Valley lies a Blue Bottle Kiosk. No big signs proclaiming its whereabouts. It’s Blue Bottle for crying out loud! All the locals know exactly where it is.






After I ordered a cup, I turned around and saw….a Shiba Puppy! Though Shibas are increasing in popularity here in SF, it’s still pretty rare that you see one on the street. This is Ichigo, a 7 month old, male Shiba:



I wish I had my Shiba with me, but this little guy would have probably tried to run from her =P
Unlike Suki, Ichigo is very shy, so I couldn’t go right up to him. I took a few snaps and–

“Sir, your latte is up!”

Yummmm….and served in a 100% biodegradable, custom-logo-printed, natural-colored hot cup. When you’re done, you can toss it right in the green compost bin along with its corn-based, polylactic acid lid. How very green…and expensive,which probably filters down into the price we pay for this brew!

Oops, cash only, and of course I didn’t have any. The super-cool barista apparently thought I had a pretty trusting face, so she let me take my coffee and go grab cash at the nearest ATM. Oops again. Card wasn’t working…so I had to huff it to my nearest bank. Oh well, photo walk!






Haha, how can you not take a picture of this guy? (right)

All images in this post were taken with my new Olympus PEN E-PL2. Apparently Adobe just made available a release candidate of the latest Camera Raw that supports the E-PL2’s raw files, but I haven’t downloaded it yet, so these are all out of camera JPEGs.

One of the things I noticed about shooting with a smaller camera is that people usually don’t notice you using it. The extra stealth over my DSLR is pretty refreshing out on the street.


….and oops, I took too long getting cash, so Bridget just took the bus to meet me back at the kiosk, where I had more coffee…oh yes. There she is in the background, waiting for me to stop dancing around my double shot with my camera and just drink it already. Mmmm…love coffee.

I wouldn’t typically do a blog post about a trip to the coffee shop, but I’ve been trying lately to focus a little more on the every-day, seemingly mundane things that I do when it comes to my photography. There are a few blogs that have inspired me quite a bit in this regard. Check’em out:

Pink Peony Photography, Karleen Su

A Happy Day, Jacqueline Jaszka

Saaediaries, Kelven Ng

These fellow blogger/photogs are just fantastic when it comes to still life…and putting diptychs together, which I’m totally lame at doing myself. At least giving it a try is forcing me to do more vertical shots =P

Seriously though, all three have a talent I envy for turning the ordinary into something extraordinary, which I think should be the goal of every photographer.

Have a great weekend!

52 Weeks of Suki: Interview

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I recently took part in an interview about my photography for a Czech photography website, centered specifically on my 52 Weeks of Suki photo project. The interview answers some frequently asked questions I receive about the project, and now that I’m only three weeks away from its completion, answering some questions  about my work has given me an opportunity to pause and reflect on what sort of impact this year-long adventure has had on myself as an artist.

If you follow my work but don’t speak Czech, you’re obviously not going to get very much out of the interview.  Running the link through Google Translate helps a little, but you’ll run into some weird translation here and there (example: it translated “I come back from every shoot with soiled clothing” to “I’m always a dirty house”).  Therefore, I’m publishing the full English interview here on my blog. The following is the interview in its entirety:

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Being a photographer, what makes you push the trigger and what are your influences?

I’m very much drawn to exaggerated perspectives. I love using super wide angle lenses as well as long focal lengths to manipulate the sense of space and depth in an image. I also try to seek out colors that resonate well together, like a warm-toned subject against a cool background, which makes for great contrast. Most importantly, it’s beautiful and interesting light that really makes me excited about an image, and I think photographer Joe McNally has probably been the most significant influence in my study of how light behaves. Studying his work has taught me to not just seek out good light, but to create and control it myself.

 

What inspired you to start your 52 weeks of Suki Project?

There’s a group on Flickr called “52 Weeks for Dogs.” The idea is to post a new image of your dog every week for a year. The image has to be taken and submitted to the group within each calendar week as well, which means I have to come up with something new every single week. A fellow Flickr contact invited me to join the group and give the challenge a try, and that’s how it all started.

Are you trying to pose your beautiful dog or do you have a more relaxed approach? Is it difficult to pose a dog? Has something funny ever happened to you while taking a portrait of her?

I often receive comments on Flickr or emails asking how I work with Suki to get images for the project. Some wonder how I get her to “pose,” others ask if there is a safety risk since she doesn’t appear to be on leash in most of the photos. With a few exceptions this year, all of the photos of Suki were the result of a team effort. My wife actually plays a key role as Suki’s handler as well as my lighting assistant during each shoot. Suki is always on leash to ensure her safety, and we either conceal the lead in the terrain or clone it out in post. As far as posing, we just place her in an ideal spot and she’ll sit, stand, and look around while my wife tries to keep her attention. Somewhere in between all that movement I try to time my shots to capture a look that gives the illusion that she’s striking a pose. More often than not, it’s a very difficult process, and I have a ton of failed images of her closing her eyes, looking away, or walking right out of the frame to prove it!

The funniest thing that happens to us when we’re shooting is that people will gather around and interrupt the shoot to ask what we’re doing, what kind of dog she is (for the record, she’s a Shiba Inu), or to comment on how much she looks like a fox.

What has photographing Suki for more than 40 weeks now given to you? Has it changed your perspective of her or your world?

As far as my photography is concerned, this project with Suki has given me everything. It has helped me shape and define my style as an artist. It has helped me increase my skill set because it pushes me to try new things and adapt to different environments and circumstances week after week. I don’t think I’ll ever take another photo that isn’t in some way influenced by my work with her this year.

What are the main differences between taking photos of dogs and people? Are there any?

You have much more control over the final image with a human subject, primarily because you can pose them and give them very specific instructions. You can take your time getting an exact placement of lighting and composition with a person because he or she will collaborate with you and work with you towards a common goal. Of course, on the flip side, Suki doesn’t feel awkward or self-conscious in front of a camera like a human might. Another difference is that to take an eye-level portrait of a human, you don’t necessarily have to be very low to the ground. Taking an eye-level shot of Suki requires my camera position to be almost all the way at ground level. Probably every single shot of her this year required me lying flat on the ground, which means I always come back from every shoot with soiled clothes!

Has the Flickr community helped your photography?

It most certainly has. Without the Flickr community, I never would have started this project with Suki, a project that, again, has had a tremendous impact on my photography. I’ve also been able to connect with many artists who are extremely supportive of both the project and my photography in general. Flickr is a fantastic resource and support system for artists.

What is more important in taking pictures the gear or the photographer?

Well, both need each other to create images, so I believe both elements are very important. Of course, a good photographer will create compelling images with any camera, but the right gear can allow you to push boundaries and do certain things that you couldn’t accomplish otherwise. That being said, I believe a photographer’s main focus should be, not on gear, but on the image. He or she should select the appropriate gear for whatever they are trying to accomplish. The “right” or “best” gear therefore varies from one artist to the next.

________________

That’s it! Hope you enjoyed reading the interview. To see the entire 52 week project in full, head over to my flickr page. You can also see a high resolution gallery of the project at my website’s gallery page at www.jonathanflemingphotography.com.

Also, check out other interviews of some amazing photographers at the website’s interview page.

Written by Jonathan

December 16, 2010 at 9:44 pm

A San Francisco Sunset

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Nikon D700 + Nikkor 16-35mm f/4 VRII at 16mm f/8, 1/20 second ISO800

For some reason, really breathtaking sunsets are not very common here in San Francisco. The last two sunsets in a row here, however, have been stunning. I took the image above and below this evening with Suki at my side. The plan was to actually use this rare back drop in an image of Suki for week 44 of 52 for my project, but it wasn’t meant to be.


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 16-35mm f/4 VRII at 35mm f/8, 1/20 second ISO800

My wife was on her way to meet me with my lighting equipment, but she got stuck in traffic. I watched in agony as the beautiful light became perfect for a sunset portrait, and then quickly faded away. The peak of the sunset’s beauty lasted only minutes. It would have been silly to just sit there and watch without taking the camera out, so Suki I and strolled out onto the sand, and I fired off a few frames as the sun disappeared behind the horizon.


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII at 55mm f/8, 1/20 second ISO800

This image is from last night, taken from the window of one of my bedrooms. I had a meeting to go to, so I couldn’t head to the beach that evening. I swore then that I’d get a shot of Suki out there the next day. Didn’t work out!


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII at 98mm f/5.6, 1/30 second ISO400

Here’s Suki looking out the same window. I put a chair there so she can keep an eye on the neighborhood, one of her favorite things to do.

Anyway, we’re going to try again tomorrow to get a nice sunset portrait of Suki for week 44. The weather is very erratic here in San Francisco, however, so there’s no guarantee I’ll have such a beautiful backdrop to work with. That’s the thing about photography. More often than not, getting the shot you want requires a great deal of persistence! It’s frustrating and fun all at the same time.

Written by Jonathan

November 4, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Suki and the Trolly

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Watch out Suki! Well, she’s actually not in any real danger here. This particular spot where we took Suki’s latest image for my photo project, combined with a real long focal length, gives the impression that Suki is in danger from on-coming traffic. In reality, she’s quite safe, comfortably surveying the scene from a sidewalk.

The image above was actually a test shot that I ended up liking. I noticed that Suki kept getting distracted while I was shooting. In this case, a loud sea gull pulled her attention away from the camera.

In this image, it was a group of tourists across the street yelling “look at that doggie! Hi doggie!!!!” that made her turn her head. While I thought this was pretty annoying at first, the resulting curve in her posture turned into a really appealing pose for the image.  Besides, most of Suki’s best images are taken when she’s not looking at the camera.

Nikon D300s + Nikkor AFS 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 VR

Written by Jonathan

August 10, 2010 at 10:42 pm