The Silent Photo Walk

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120 f/4 VR

Today’s post includes images from this past Sunday, when I went on a photo walk with a friend of mine who recently took up photography as a hobby. We started in San Francisco’s Mission Bay area. What’s up with the title of this blog entry? I’ll explain a little later in the post.

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120 f/4 VR

On this bright and sunny day in San Francisco, I decided to try something a little different and shoot the entire walk in JPEG (gasp!). I realized that since I shoot RAW almost exclusively, I’ve never really had a chance to test out my D700’s JPEG engine. I wanted to see, for example, how the camera’s D-Lighting handled high contrast situations and get a better feel for Nikon’s highly customizable picture control settings.

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120 f/4 VR

(My friend insisted we take Suki along. I take her everywhere anyway, so that wasn’t an issue) =)

There’s something kind of liberating about getting your shot processed in the camera and just being done with it. I did some cropping on a couple of these images after uploading them to my computer. I added a little vignetting here and there, and that was it. Easy peasy!

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120 f/4 VR

Since the camera was doing all the processing, I found myself thinking more carefully about what settings I was using, what my white balance should be, what saturation and contrast settings I should use to achieve a certain look.  Turned out to be a pretty interesting and enjoyable exercise.

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120 f/4 VR

Colors look great out of the camera. The D700 produces an excellent JPEG file, that’s for sure. It seems to handle really difficult high contrast scenes well too, doing a great job preventing highlight clipping while preserving shadow detail when the lighting gets ugly. Pretty impressive out-of-the-camera results.

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G

Besides my funky JPEG project for the day, our photo walk had another interesting twist: it was silent, as in no talking. Huh?! Well, it was silent by necessity. My new-to-photography friend is deaf, so all our joking, camera talk, and general conversation was done in ASL. I must say, teaching someone about photography in sign language is a very interesting challenge. We had a blast =)

On my recommendation, my buddy here recently picked up a 50mm prime lens for his Canon DSLR. Part of the reason for our photo walk was to help him put the new lens through its paces. In harmony with that (and to lighten up my camera so I could sign with one hand and shoot with the other if need be), I put my zoom lens away and mounted my own 50mm for the rest of the day.

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G

If you’re just starting out in photography like my friend is, do yourself a favor and pick up a 50mm fast prime to add to your kit. Both Canon and Nikon make 50mm 1.8 lenses that not only perform very well, especially for low-light photography, but are light-weight and very inexpensive. Nikon also makes a very inexpensive 35mm f/1.8 that’s really a must for every DX shooter.

So with our 50’s mounted, we chased Suki around at a local dog park for a while:

We also spent some time in San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza area. Great place for a photo walk:

After I took the following shot, I got a better understanding of how I must look when I’m taking photos of Suki. I usually get the camera even lower than he is here, so I must look really ridiculous!

Suki looks thrilled, doesn’t she?

Taking a break at Blue Bottle Coffee. You don’t think I headed out to the Ferry Building just to take pictures, do you? 😉

No coffee for you, Suki!

Heading back to the car after dinner. Photo walks…. gotta love ’em.

Nikon D700
Nikkor AFS 24-120mm f/4 VRII
Nikkor AFS 50mm f/1.4G

27 thoughts on “The Silent Photo Walk

  1. Nice shots. Extremely inspiring to do these photo walks. I do that sometimes in New Delhi and its a great way to practice photography as well make a picnic out of it. I am assuming that the subject in picture is Suki- never seen such moody shots! Good job.

  2. Great walk and lovely pictures you got! I never used RAW on my E-P1, so I’m thinking of trying RAW from now on contrary to you;D
    I love the 4th photo from above; the building looks really cute, like toy building:))
    Oh, I’m very interested in the coffee shop! From the name and the label, I can smell that it’s a nice coffee shop!!:DD

    1. You’d love Blue Bottle. They make every individual cup by hand! Really, really, really good coffee. Speaking of RAW, I’ve heard great things about Olympus’ JPEGs…maybe you don’t even need RAW…but its always great to try something new! =P

  3. Wow! You know how to sign? That’s super cool!

    I see you got a famous shiba butt shot. =P Unfortunately, most of my shiba pictures are of what they think is their good side (not quite our thinking of good side).

    I never noticed how Suki’s white chest looks like those rosettes they pour in the coffee shops. Totally cool!

    1. Suki looooves turning the other way when I get in her face with the camera. She knows how to push my buttons, that’s for sure! Oh yeah, and we call Suki’s chest area her “cream filling.” It’s always hyper-white, especially after a bath =)

  4. i really like your nikon jpeg pics! the colors are great and has a nice tone to them. gotta love that 50mm!! i’ve absolutely no objections about shooting jpeg, esp if you get the exposure and WB right, there wouldn’t be much editing needed afterwards (and takes less space). raw does not necessarily equal good photos, right? =)

    1. You’re right! In fact, RAW puts an extra burden on you to take the data captured by the camera and develop the photo. So if you don’t really know what you’re doing, it definitely doesn’t guarantee a good photo (probably the opposite!). I think there’s a time and a place for both formats.

  5. hehe, i’m the reverse — i always shot jpeg, and only very recently (within the last month) started shooting raw exclusively. anyway, such lovely pics of SF and suki, who is adorable.

    i can tell i’ll probably be picking up some locale gems in SF from your blog. can’t wait. 🙂 (although my fave is blue bottle in the mint plaza.)

    1. Thanks for the visit and comment! Interesting that we played with these two formats in reverse hehe.

      I love exploring my own city, that’s for sure. SF is full of cool local spots =)

  6. That’s an interesting post Jonathan, because I’m a JPEG person myself, I really like to have the extra shots for photowalks like these. I guess I’m not comfortable working with RAW files yet, maybe someday you can explain about RAW files more on your blog and convert people like me to shoot RAW exclusively.. hahaha.. love the pics by the way, and Suki is looking amazing as always, I would love to shoot her one day.. with my camera of course 🙂

    1. You know, after writing up this blog post, I’m not so sure just how “exclusive” my RAW shooting will be from now on! I think I’m going to be more open to either, depending on the situation. I see JPEG shooting as just another tool in the shed now, an option that I can employ when I see fit. =)

      You should meet up with us one day. You’ll see how hard it is to get a shot of a Shiba Inu haha

      1. I’d love to!, oh and I didn’t know Suki is hard to work with.. especially after looking at your 52 weeks series, she had lots of cool poses.. how did you direct her to do that? hahaha.. maybe it’s because of your patience dealing with her after all.. whatever it is I’ll find out soon when I see you guys. 😀

  7. Awesome post man! Lucky you had some good weather on this day haha. Sweet photos… I can only imagine how difficult it is having to shoot with one hand and the other on Suki’s leash lol.

  8. Whoa! This is a great idea! I haven’t shot JPEG ONLY in quite a while. I might give that a try. By the way, are all of these photos taken in JPEG only (including the Suki shots?

  9. Great shots – and pretty cool you know sign language.

    I’m glad to see some 24-120 f4 shots again 🙂 I found your review of that lens a while back and I ended up buying it for my D7000, but that’s not all, cause once I found your 52 weeks of Suki posts, I actually went through all of them – plus 10 pages or so of everything else on your blog. It took me a few days but it was a pleasure to see all your photos. Both Suki and Bridget seems very photogenic – and I’m so envious that you got a 24 f1.4 anniversary gift from her, she’s definitely a keeper 🙂

    1. Klaus, thanks for having a look at my work with Suki and taking the time to read through my blog. I’m glad you enjoyed it! For sure, Bridget’s interest (tolerance?) in my love of photography is greatly appreciated =)

      I’m sure the 24-120 does great on the D7000!

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