Jonathan Fleming's Blog

A Photography Blog

Posts Tagged ‘70-200 f/2.8 VRII

Small Flashes Love Dreary Weather

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The wedding I shot this past weekend was a wild ride. Some unexpected circumstances arose that forced us to cancel our original plans for some on-location formals between the ceremony and reception. With the reception rapidly approaching, and no time to travel anywhere beyond a couple of minutes from the reception hall for some portraits, we scrambled to find a place that would work.

Fortunately, my wonderful wife located a small community park tucked away in a neighborhood a few blocks from the reception hall. We all headed there, not knowing what to expect. Gotta be ready for anything in this business!

As it turns out, the park didn’t look very promising, at least at first. As I entered, I was greeted by some rusted old fences, areas under construction, and a tattered restroom hut. But as I pushed a little further, I found a long stretch of grass with some nice trees far in the distance.  Good spot to hunker down and quickly work through the formals. Moving fast was key. The entire family was there along with the bridal party, and it was cold….and the reception was to start in like 20 minutes. Yikes!

The weather was bad at the park. The late afternoon was foggy, dark, cold, and the lighting was completely flat. Some in the group were concerned about how the scene would impact the pictures.  Indeed, it was easy to look down range at this field and just see a dark, dreary scene. As I pulled my SB units out of my bag, however, I saw an outdoor studio.

Hot shoe flashes thrive in dark, shaded areas.  I was able to shoot the top two images wide open on my 70-200 2.8, and the resulting shutter speed pushed the remote SB-900 flash that I was using as my main light into hi-speed sync. This dramatically cuts the unit’s power, which was already being cut by running the flash through an umbrella. But since I didn’t have a strong amount of ambient to compete with, the strobe didn’t struggle to give me adequate output. Sweet!

Three lights were in play for most of the shots: An on camera SB-900, used as a commander for two remote units and for on-camera fill, set to TTL. The main light is a single SB-900 through a 42″ translucent umbrella, also set to TTL. A third SB-900 is zoomed to 200mm and firing at my subjects from behind for some rim lighting, set to a different CLS group (Nikon speak, sorry if some of these acronyms are not making sense), firing manual at…hmm…I think it was 1/8th power or so. All of this lighting came together to give my final series of images the clarity, punch, and dimension that the scene wasn’t giving me on its own.

It was  all over in a flash (har-har), and it would have been great to work the location even more than we did, but we still came away with some great images for the family…images that I’ll be really busy processing over the next few weeks.

Congratulations to the beautiful newly weds, Michelle and Rodney!

See these images in high-resolution

Nikon D700 | Nikkor AFS 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II

Rained In

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We had an engagement shoot scheduled this past weekend at the Palace of Fine Arts. Unfortunately, we caught the tail end of a few weeks of very heavy rain here in the San Francisco bay area. Geared up and waiting for our couple to arrive, I took a couple snaps of my voice-activated-light stand. Look at her…braving the rain, portable soft box in hand. Such a trooper.

The sun tried to fight the dark clouds, but the rain and wind picked up as we waited. By the time the couple arrived…it just wasn’t going to happen. Doh!

We did, however, spend some time exploring the newly renovated Palace. Such a beautiful place. Looking forward to sunnier skies this weekend!

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII

Written by Jonathan

March 29, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Don’t Forget to Look

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Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G

For me, holidays off work are go-out-with-the-camera days, so no sleeping in this past Friday. Got up bright and early and headed out on a mission: to take the 51st of 52 images of Suki for this year’s project. We started in North Beach where I took the image above. I must have still been waking up, because I took the shot and wondered why my shutter speed was so incredibly high during the dawn hour. Ah…ISO6400. It’s usually a good idea to set your camera to its base line before every shoot.

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII

I had some concepts in mind that I tried in various areas of the city with Suki, and for the life of me I couldn’t make them work. Just one failed attempt after another. Started feeling like the guy on the left here. So I put the Suki project out of my mind for a while. Took a break. Grabbed some coffee. I decided to just start taking pictures of stuff and get inspired as I go. Note to self: get coffee BEFORE going out on a photo walk next time.

Normally when I’m out with the camera and the dog, I seem to keep the camera fixated on her. Guess a year of taking photos of her for the 52 weeks project will do that to you. For most of the day yesterday, I removed myself from that tendency and started to really look at what was around me. My goal for the day was to focus on patterns, texture, and color, and to look for these elements everywhere. It really requires that you slow down  and take time to really look at everything in your environment.

When you do, you start to notice some cool really stuff sitting there right under your nose, waiting to be photographed:

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G

Started out with the 24mm f/1.4, but quickly realized that I’d need more versatility for taking pictures of random subjects, so out came the 24-120 f/4:

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24-120mm f/4

There is something very eye catching about the natural contrasting with the man-made. In concert with lighting that reveals texture, you can make nice images of things you’d normally just trample on and not even notice.

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24-120mm f/4

While certainly not a dedicated macro lens, the 24-120 can get you pretty close to your subjects. The VR is great to have for hand-holding these closeups too.

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24-120mm f/4

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24-120mm f/4

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24-120mm f/4

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24-120mm f/4

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24-120mm f/4

This wide shot above captures some cool lines and really takes the whole scene in, but it’s good to keep looking, dive deeper into the scene, and pick out something to anchor the eye on. Every photo needs a subject:

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24-120mm f/4

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII

Photos of Suki sort of flowed much easier after my photo walk:

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24-120 f/4 VRII

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G

Many of these images have been added to the “Random Moments” gallery on my website, so if you want to see them in super high resolution, head on over the

I think that pretty much sums up today’s blog post. Pretty random!


EXIF on these photos? Just mouse over the images.

Written by Jonathan

December 26, 2010 at 1:40 am

City in Orange

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Nikon D700 + Nikkor AFS 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII at 150mm f/5, 1/60 sec ISO200

The city of San Francisco is aglow in orange right now, and not for Halloween. One particularly beautiful display of orange lighting, celebrating the world champion San Francisco Giants, can be seen at City Hall. With all the Giants fever sweeping accross the city right now, I felt the need to incorporate the orange lights of City Hall with a shot fo Suki for week 43.

Suki is a pretty small creature, so finding an angle that let me shoot from below her to include City Hall’s dome was no easy task. Even when I did find a pretty good composition, I still had to get all the way down on the ground with the camera. Lots of fun!

Nikon D700 + Nikkor AFS 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII at 78mm f/2.8, 1/25 sec ISO800

Yes, I was out there making images during game 4. I just love photography that much. Of course, I still had the game streaming to my iphone to keep me updated on my hometeam.

Nikon D700 + Nikkor AFS 24-120mm f/4 VRII at 24mm f/11, 6.0 seconds ISO200

Took this image not far from where I parked my car. How could I resist? The golden orange light against the cool blue sky was just begging to be immortalized.