Jonathan Fleming's Blog

A Photography Blog

Posts Tagged ‘family

Growing Up Too Fast

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Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 + SB-N5 | 1/20 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200

My great nephew Julian is now a touch over one month old, and wow, kids grow fast! Last night, he met up with the entire family for the first time. Of course, uncle Jonathan has a camera in tow.

The dimly lit house we gathered at was a great place to test out the new flash unit I just received for my Nikon V1. The lack of a built-in flash in the V1 seemed like a curious omission from the camera at first. Nikon instead opted for  a separate unit, the SB-N5 Speedlight, which attaches to the camera using a proprietary connector.

Proprietary connector?! My first reaction was “why not a regular old hotshoe I can mount my SB-900 to?” Then again, an SB-900 is nearly double the size of the camera body itself. Not a combo I’m likely to use anyway. This smaller SB-N5 unit feels way more practical in use, and what makes it rock compared to a typical built-in flash is that it can tilt and swivel, much like its bigger SB brethren.

I set exposure manually at the camera. Wasn’t too worried about the low shutter speeds since the flash would help me freeze movement. From there I just rotated the flash head where I wanted it in order to wash light off part of the white ceiling above me, relying on the camera to vary flash output automatically. The whole experience felt just like using the iTTL flash system with my Nikon DSLR. It worked, and worked well.


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 + SB-N5 | 1/40 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 + SB-N5 | 1/25 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 + SB-N5 | 1/40 sec, f/2.8, ISO 400


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 + SB-N5 | 1/20 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 + SB-N5 | 1/80 sec, f/2.8, ISO 400

Of course, the SB-95 is nowhere near as powerful or versatile as Nikon’s real hotshoe flashes, but for indoor shots with bounce and for outdoor fill, it’s a must for a V1 owner.

Written by Jonathan

December 23, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Party Photography

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—-Nikon D300s + Nikkor 10.5mm f/2.8 at f/5.6, 1/80 sec ISO800

One question I’m often asked is something like : “How do I get sharp photos when taking pictures of my friends dancing indoors? What lens should I get for this purpose?”

Well, in most cases, the answer has less to do with your lens and more to do with whether or not you’re using flash. Just so happened to have hosted a dance party last night at my house, so I took the opportunity to demonstrate what I mean, using a variety of lenses and shutter speeds, and of course, my hot shoe flashes. The dancing took place in my living room at night, which means no daylight pouring through the window to give me f-stoppage. The room is lit by two floor lamps, providing, I dunno, just about f/0.1 inside. Seriously though, even using my fastest lens, I ‘d probably squeeze out a shutter speed of about 1/80th shooting wide open at f/1.4 at ISO3200 in this room. Ouch…not nearly fast enough to stop action under these conditions.


—-Nikon D300s + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 at 11mm f/5.6, 1/125 sec ISO800

Freezing motion in bright day light out doors is relatively simple, right? You can easily hit say 1/640 or 1/1000 and higher, even stopped down, effectively freezing motion. Can’t really do that in a room like this. There’s simply not enough ambient. Using flash lets you shoot at lower shutter speeds and still freeze action.

Wait a minute! How is it that you can freeze motion with low shutter speeds when you use your flash? Another question I get asked a lot. They key, again, is in the pop of light you’re throwing at your subject. The shutter may be going at say 1/80 or even 1/15, but that flash is hitting your subject at like 1/1500th, fast enough to freeze them in their tracks. If you want to imply motion in your dancing shots, you can drag the shutter at around 1/10 to 1/15 (make sure you camera is set to rear curtain sync):


—-Nikon D300s + Nikkor 10.5mm f/2.8 at f/5.6, 1/15 sec ISO800

Or select higher shutter speeds to freeze them completely:


—–Nikon D300s + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 at 14mm f/5.6, 1/80 ISO800

Another note: you gotta go manual exposure in scenes like this. Throw your camera into aperture priority, for instance, and it will select what it thinks is an appropriate shutter speed to expose the scene. Well, you’re pointing your camera at darkness, which means it’ll select shutter speeds that are far too low. Use shutter priority and you camera will open up your lens to its maximum, limiting your depth of field options. For the entire night, I dictated the shutter speed and aperture and let the camera’s intelligent flash system work its magic. Worked well in this case too because in such a small, dimly lit room, almost all of the light is coming from my flash units.

Another question I get asked: “My lens doesn’t have VC/VR/IS. Can I still get sharp shots with it?” Yes! None of the lenses I used last night are stabilized:


—-Nikon D300s + Tokina 50-135 f/2.8 at 95mm f/5.6, 1/80 sec ISO800


—-Nikon D300s + Tokina 50-135 f/2.8


—-Nikon D300s + Tokina 50-135 f/2.8


—-Nikon D300s + Nikkor 10.5mm f/2.8

It’s important to remember that neither lens nor sensor based image stabilization systems help freeze subject motion. They only help reduce blur induced by small movements caused by the photographer hand-holding the camera. They key, again, is the flash.

Of course, when people are standing still, it’s even easier. =)

Written by Jonathan

August 30, 2010 at 9:03 pm

Being a Tourist in My Own City

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[ Canon S90 at 6mm f/3.2 1/30 second ISO160 ]

Wow, had such a great time this weekend! Two great friends from Japan visited our home and stayed for a few days. We took them on a tour of the city, heading to the usual “tourist spots” as well as places we locals like to visit. Running around with them made me realize that I can’t even remember the last time I drove around SF just to see the sights. It was pretty fun actually! Ready for a long post with tons of images spanning the course of 3 days? Ok, here we go!

Day One…

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Nomar

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This weekend I did a little photo session at a friend’s house. They have a little 14 month old boy named Nomar. He’s adorable, has a great personality, and we had a lot of fun. Bringing Nomar’s favorite toy, a little Luigi, made him a very cheerful little guy, and really helped during the shoot.

He and his mom photograph really well! For the more “formal” family shots on the couch, I used a 3′ by 3′  Lastolite skylite panel  on a C-stand, with two speedlights firing through it. A reflector on the floor gave some fill from below.

Nomar was even goofier when with his Dad, mostly because mommy was behind me making him laugh. He seemed to be really fascinated by my camera too.

Of course, his Dad knew how to make sure he had a blast during the session too. I used the skylite panel and a tri-grip diffuser over the window to soften the harsh light for the natural light photos.

I thought it was pretty cool that father and son had matching outfits. Very cool!

Nomar’s other favorite toy besides a plush Luigi? His mother’s cell phone!

Don’t break it now!

In all, I have about 80-90 photos ready for the family, which I’m still processing. These are a few “previews” from the shoot. So much work to do!

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Camera Specs: Nikon D300s + Tokina 11-16 f/2.8, Tokina 50-135 f/2.8, Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 VC, Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G