Jonathan Fleming's Blog

A Photography Blog

Posts Tagged ‘california

The California Coast

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A few snaps from a trip up the California coast line. The morning always starts with an outing with the dog, this time at the beach. Really helps get Suki tired enough to relax in the car during the long drive.

The foggy coastal morning along with the shapes and textures on the beach seemed perfect for some black and white shooting. At this point, Lightroom 4 doesn’t support RAW files from the XPRO-1, so these images are all processed in-camera using either the red or green filtered black and white film simulation modes. Though I figured I’d probably switch over to color as the sun burned off the fog, I ended up staying in black and white for the rest of the trip:

Trips like this make me so glad I live by the coast =)


All Images: Fuji XPRO-1 + 35mm f/1.4 XF R and 18mm f/2 XF R lenses

Written by Jonathan

May 15, 2012 at 11:33 am

Passing Through Nevada City

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Fuji X100 | 1/350 sec, f/5, ISO 800

After attending to some important business in Auburn this weekend, we decided to take a 15 minute or so break in Nevada City before heading back to San Francisco. Temperatures in the upper 90s were a stark contrast to the typical cooler summers I’m used to.

Nevada City brings back memories of my childhood. Our family tradition growing up was a camping trip every summer in the Tahoe National forest, and it always included stopping through old little towns like this one on the way back home.

I originally took all of these photos in color using my X100’s standard (Provia) film mode. When I got home however, I realized that this series is just screaming for a black and white conversion:

Unprepared for the high heat, and unable to enter an air-conditioned cafe to cool due to Suki being with us, I lasted about 15 minutes before seeking refuge in the car.

Fuji x100 | 1/350 sec, f/5.6, ISO 800

Until next time, Nevada City! Though I have no idea when that will be. The campground we used to go to every year has been closed for several years now…


Images: Fuji X100, all JPEGs (Black and White: Silver Efex Pro II)

Written by Jonathan

August 28, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Road Trip!

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Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G

Yup, I’m blogging from the open road. Internet has been spotty, but I’ve figured out ways to get some images up from the first leg of our trip to see some friends in Arizona.

Gear is pretty simple. Packed my newly aquired Fuji X100, along with my D700 and one lens, the 24mm f/1.4. The D700 came along for one very specific purpose, which I’ll post about later. I used it only a couple of times, and the rest of the trip has been all X100.

We began with a long drive all through the night, so the sun was rising by the time we hit the desert. It was incredibly beautiful, and pretty surreal. Seeing ghost towns and rusted old trains in the middle of nowhere…spooky!

This road was actually on the map! Crazy fun drive.

Ouch. When you’re the only gas station for miles and miles, I guess you can really gouge.

Most of the road trip looked like the above, but when we arrived in Arizona, we were met with a ton of natural beauty:

Fuji X100

Fuji X100

Fuji X100

Fuji X100

We took turns driving non-stop for 16 hours. Only a few days into the trip and I’ve taken about a thousand pictures. More to come!

Written by Jonathan

June 22, 2011 at 6:04 am

Me, Suki, and the Forest

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One foggy morning in San Francisco this week on a much needed day off work, Suki and I headed out of the house. Hoping to get a nice shot of her for my 52 week photo project, we headed for a local park. Though located right in the city and surrounded by neighborhoods and shops, once you enter Mt. Davidson park, you forget you’re in a city at all.

Strolling through the forest made me feel like a character in an episode of Lost! Because of the dense fog and light rain that rolled over the city earlier in the day, the forest was very damp. Trails were muddy, and the trees dripped water down on us constantly. Suki and I both got pretty dirty as a result. It was also extremely humid, which made the climb to the top of the mountain particularly uncomfortable, especially since I had photo gear. The top image was taken using an off-camera SB-900 unit through a shoot-through umbrella, which I carried and set up in the mud all by myself (and no, Suki did not help me).

Suki was fascinated by the forest. She loved to run ahead and check out what was further down the trail. If I lagged behind, she’d turn around and wait for me, giving me this look that seems to say “hey, what gives? Hurry up will ya!”

Notice how dirty her face is from sticking her nose in the wet plant-life that surrounds the trail. Good thing I had clean rags in the car!

Shot Data:
Camera: Nikon D300s
Top: Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 at 13mm f/4, 1/200 Sec ISO200 (CLS triggered SB-900)
Shot 2: Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 at 11mm f/3.5 1/500 Sec ISO200
Shot 3: Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 at 11mm f/6.3 1/80 Sec ISO200
Bottom: Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR at 300mm f/5.6 1/500 Sec ISO800

She & Him at the Fox Theater

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I’ve had a major crush on Zooey Deschanel since first seeing her in the movie Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe, and that’s when I thought that all she did was act. After discovering her musical talent, I flat out fell in love with her. Her style, her voice, her everything! So I was thrilled to be able to snag tickets to her concert at the Fox Theater in Oakland over the weekend.

We arrived early enough to get a spot up front, although off to the side of the stage. I brought my DSLR along, but I found out upon arriving at the venue that no cameras were allowed during the performance. I was so disappointed! Convinced that it would be the ultimate tragedy to not be able to photograph dear Zooey my first time seeing her in the flesh, I smuggled my little Canon S90 in and used it during the performance. Certainly not the most ideal equipment for the job, but its performance was impressive for a compact.

Shot between ISO800 and 1600 all night. Noise was definitely apparent in the photos, but it was a more pleasing grain than any compact I’ve had prior to the S90. Of course, running the images through Lightroom 3 Beta 2’s amazing noise reduction tools was a big help. Since I was further from Zooey than I expected to be, I appreciated the extra 45mm of reach the S90 gives me over my Panasonic LX3 as well.

Taking photos of the concert was a real challenge, however, as I had to spot meter (easier to do on the LX3), time my shots when lighting and subject placement were both ideal, AND keep an eye over my shoulder for Fox Theater staff. A few less careful photographers around me were scolded by security and forced to put their cameras away. I somehow never got noticed. Whew!

Once thing I really wish is that Zooey moved around the stage a little more. She sort of stayed in the same spot the whole time. Oh well. Maybe she’ll loosen up a little bit on She and Him’s next tour!

Ok enough of my babbling. Here are a few more images from the night (below). Enjoy!

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Canon Powershot S90

Top Image: S90 at 22.5mm f/6.3 ISO1600 1/60 Second

A Day Off with Suki

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Nikon D300s + Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G at f/2.2 ISO200 1/100 Second

This shot is among my favorite photographs of Suki ever. The saturated color, the way the elements in the frame seem to converge right on Suki’s head, her pose, the lighting: I’m so happy with the way it turned out! I took this last week on a day off. It was early in the morning, since Suki and I headed out to the Marin Headlands at around 5:00am to try to capture some pre-sunrise images of the Golden Gate Bridge. I knew exactly what I wanted to shoot: fog rolling in over the city and through the Golden Gate during sunrise. Well, there was fog alright…so much fog that it reached over the highest peaks of the Marin Headlands. When I arrived in Marin, I could barely see 20 feet in front of my car. The images I wanted to capture? Weren’t gonna happen.

Suki! Get off the driver seat! Nikon D300s + Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G + SB-900 Camera left through windshield

That’s the thing with landscape photography. For the most part, you’re at the mercy of nature. You have to keep going back to the spot where you want your shot to happen over and over until the conditions are right. Maybe I’ll have more success next time!

Retreating from the fog in the headlands, Suki and I headed down to a small harbor on the other side of the Golden Gate. We walked together for a while, and as the sun rose, I decided set up my tripod right at the water’s edge and see what if I could come up with some nice images of the Bridge from below the fog. I set up, pulled my tripod mounting plate out of my camera bag to attach it to my camera, and whoops! Dropped the little guy on to a rock, helplessly watching it bounce, bounce again, and again, and then plop! Right into the water. Gone was my support system. Foiled again!

Here's my tripod...utterly useless without the mounting plate, which I lost in the San Francisco Bay minutes before taking this photo

After sulking for a little bit from being defeated by first the fog and then my own clumsiness, we headed out to Sausalito for coffee and a stroll through the neighborhood. The dense fog and cloud cover meant beautiful, even light for the rest of the morning, perfect for shots like the one of Suki above! The colors from fallen leaves, flowers, and other plants were rich and saturated.

Nikon D300s + Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G at f/2 ISO200 1/125 Second

Suki waited impatiently with me at a cafe while I phoned a few local camera shops to see if they sold the replacement quick-release mounting plate for my tripod head. I was fortunate to find one in stock, and Suki and I drove back over the bridge to San Francisco to pick it up.

Nikon D300s + Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G at f/2.8 ISO400 1/160 Second

Over the course of the day, I really fell in love with the 35mm f/1.8G all over again. It’s a pretty sharp lens wide open, but stop it down even a little and things get super sharp. It’s the least expensive lens in my kit, but it’s lightweight and performs great! Plus, I noticed that in using a prime as my sole lens in the morning, I seemed to put more thought into composition than I normally do. I tried more angles and moved around my subjects more. Until now, I haven’t really used the 35 all that much since I bought it. What was I thinking!?

Nikon D300s + Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G at f/2.8 ISO200 1/320 Second

In the early afternoon I took Suki to the dog park, her favorite place in the world. Doesn’t she look happy?

Nikon D300s + Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR at 185mm f/8 ISO200 1/640

Every time I’d kneel down to take a shot, this dog (below) would run up to me and check me out. I think he took quite a liking to me!

Nikon D300s + Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-f/5.6 VR at 220mm f/9 ISO200 1/640 Second

Nikon D300s + Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR at 70mm f/4.5 ISO250 1/640 Second

This is how the day ended: back at a cafe with Suki, sipping on coffee. I need more days off!

Nikon D300s + Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G at f/2 ISO200 1/640 Second

Written by Jonathan

December 11, 2009 at 10:20 am

Portrait of a Friend, and Goodbye Summer Night Shooting

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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. 😉

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!