Portrait of a Friend, and Goodbye Summer Night Shooting

Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 VC at 50mm f/5.6, ISO900 1/8 Second
Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 VC at 50mm f/5.6, ISO900 1/8 Second

This is Snowflake Bear, and we take him everywhere! He’s even been to Japan and back with us last year (where our friends called him kuma-san, or Mr. Bear). I usually shoot in RAW, but this shot was processed by and imported directly from of the camera. The D300s produces some beautiful JPEGs I think. I took this photo to test out my Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8’s VC effectiveness in an indoor, low-light setting. This scene was actually much darker than it looks here, with natural light hitting him softly from the edges of a dark curtain over a window to my right. The VC allowed a super-low 1/8 second shutter speed at a reasonable ISO setting and at the longest (75mm equivalent) focal length for this lens, hand-held. Of course, this wouldn’t have worked if he was moving around though. šŸ˜‰

In other news, the shot I took below was a quick one I took on the way to go grocery shopping over the weekend. It’s getting harder and harder to take the cityscape shots at dusk that I’ve been enjoying taking over the summer. The sun is setting sooner and sooner as Autumn sets in, and there isn’t much time lately to run out after work and capture the wonderful, deep blue sky color that lasts only 20-30 minutes after the sun sets.

A street light to my left was causing major flare issues for me that ruined my first couple of shots at this spot (using my Tokina 11-16 ultra wide). Since my wife was along, I actually had her stand to the left of the camera to shade the lens. Not only is she blocking light with her body here, but her hand is actually held very close (in fact just barely out of the frame) to the left of the lens to further reduce the glare.

We were only there for a few minutes and the dusky blue sky was gone. I noticed though, during this very quick shooting session, that the shutter speeds I needed to expose the shot the way I wanted seemed too short. After getting home I realized why: I had the camera set to ISO800 from some hand-held test shots I was taking earlier. Doh! Fortunately, ISO800 is very clean on the D300s, but it just goes to show, always double check your settings!

To prevent this from happening later, I’ve set up two custom shooting banks in my D300s, one for the tripod mounted night shots I love taking, where I shoot RAW with D-Lighting off and ISO set to base with Auto ISO off (among other things), and one for hand-held shooting, activating D-Lighting and Auto ISO etc.

Anyways, back to being sad about the seasons changing. I know that soon, as winter comes, I’ll be getting off work with the sun already below or close to being below the horizon, giving me no time for the shots I’ve been taking lately. There is hope, however. I’ve noticed lately that on my drive to work in the morning, the dawn’s blue sky here in San Francisco is simply incredible. I’m gonna have to start waking up earlier!

Wow, this post is full of my rambling. Oh well!

2 thoughts on “Portrait of a Friend, and Goodbye Summer Night Shooting

  1. Yes! You always capture the beauty of “magic hour” in the evening, which we call the 20 to 30 minutes before the sunrise and after the sunset. The colors during those periods are really magical! Now I look forward to your “magic hour” shots in the morning:))

    BTW the Kuma-chan is soooo cute:))

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