Jonathan Fleming's Blog

A Photography Blog

Posts Tagged ‘strobe

One Big Light, One Little Shiba

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Nikon D3x | 24-70mm f2.8 

No light, no matter how big, is ever big enough for a Shiba Inu.

Happy shooting this weekend =)

Written by Jonathan

June 9, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Team Suki

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A fellow photographer, and as I just discovered today, super-awesome illustrator sent me the image you see above this morning. Inspired by my work this year for 52 Weeks of Suki, the original hand-drawn artwork is on it’s way to me in the mail. What a cool gift! She included so many specific details that I bust out laughing every time I look at the drawing. Everything’s there, from Suki’s signature paw print collar and proud demeanor, Bridget’s white coat and scarf (and freckles), to my low and tight shooting technique. She’s even got Bridget flying much of that off-camera flash over Suki’s head, ensuring that there’s not too much spill heating up the lower portion of my frame. Brilliant! =)

A big thank you to my friend Cindy for this lovely work of art!

Written by Jonathan

December 10, 2010 at 1:24 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

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

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

Bring the Studio With You!

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One of the things I’ve learned  from running around the city taking pictures of Suki for my 52 week project is that natural lighting doesn’t always cut it. Bringing some basic lighting equipment along with you when you go out, however, can let you take control of a situation in which the existing light just won’t give you a nice photo. Take this series of images, for example. Strolling around one of my favorite areas of the city, Suki jumped up on this long platform along the sidewalk, and I immediately had a shot in mind.  I lined up my camera and took the shot below, a test image to see what the camera was thinking about the scene:

Meh, no shot here. The lighting is flat, and not coming from the direction I need it. Notice that the bulk of the light  in the scene is coming from behind Suki. As a result, she’s dark. With no directional light on her, the subject of the photo, she appears flat and one-dimensional. Boo…

Fortunately, I had my SB-900 speedlight with me. Fired it wirelessly at Suki from my left through a small piece diffusion material, and the difference was dramatic (top image and below). Notice that she now has increased color, dimension, clarity, and separation from the background.

This is what I love about Nikon’s CLS, or Creative Lighting System. You can carry portable speedlights with you anywhere, and it’s like bringing the controlled elements of a studio out into the less-predictable field. Firing multiple lights wirelessly and getting your desired exposure is incredibly easy with CLS, as the camera does most of the thinking for you. It also helps to have a subject that is used to having her picture taken!

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Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC // SB-900 Speedlight off-camera

See another shot using this setup HERE

Photo shoot: Jasmine Libatique

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Got a call yesterday from Jasmine Libatique, a local singer/songwriter here in San Francisco, requesting a photo shoot for her upcoming album entitled Dreaming Away. Her album is still in the recording stage of development, but she wanted to start compiling some concepts for her album artwork.

San Francisco’s Mission District is filled with cool urban art, and Jasmine selected one of the Mission’s many murals to incorporate into the shoot. This will be the first of likely several different concepts we will attempt before she makes a final selection of images to include in her album.

It was a very last-minute shoot! Had to rush home after work and quickly grab whatever gear I could get my hands on before heading out to the Mission District before the sun went down. My SB-800 unit failed on me due to bad batteries during the shoot. I was using it as a commander so I could get my command pulses firing behind or above me to my remote SB-900. Without it, I had to bounce the command signal from my camera’s pop-up off my free hand towards the remote unit. It actually worked! It also made me think a little more about how nice it would be to have radio triggers.  Anyway, despite the rushed nature of the job, we had a great time!

Want to get a preview of Jasmine’s music? Head on over to her Fanpage, where you can listen to all the songs on her upcoming album. Become a fan!

Also, check out more images from this shoot on my website!