Jonathan Fleming's Blog

A Photography Blog

Posts Tagged ‘images

A Few New Tools

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Nikon D800 +  Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G | 1/100 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 (VSCO’s Kodak Tri-X 400)

The weekend was a little busier than I anticipated, but I still managed to squeeze in some time behind the D800’s finder. I also added Lightroom 4 and the newest, D800-compatible version of VSCO to my software tool-kit. I don’t always process with VSCO, but I always love the result when I do:

We also found this little gem at a camera sidewalk sale today. I can’t believe how incredibly fun it is to shoot with the Olympus XA! This thing is going everywhere with me :)

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Images: Nikon D800 | 50mm f/1.4G | 24mm f/1.4G

Written by Jonathan

April 1, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Megapixel Madness

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Nikon D800 +  Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G | 1/250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100

It’s impossible to appreciate fully by simply viewing the downsized images I’m posting here, but from what I’ve seen so far on my monitor at home, files from the Nikon D800 look downright stunning.  It seems that the big headline feature of the camera is its 36 megapixel sensor. I guess I can see why, because this thing captures an incredible amount of detail:


Same image as above, cropped. Really really cropped.

Besides the amazing sensor, however, other key elements of this new camera system are really impressing me so far. I can see definite improvements in metering, autofocus, and especially in handling over my older D700. I’m in love.

Happy shooting this weekend :)

Written by Jonathan

March 30, 2012 at 11:17 am

Remembering Puppyhood

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I was cleaning out unwanted images from my archives last night when I stumbled upon some old images of Suki when she was a puppy. These are photos that I took long before I started blogging, so I think they deserve their own post today. The original jpegs were pretty flat and needed a little Lightroom 4 Beta love to wake them up, but here they are!

She was such a little rascal back then. In fact, our nickname for her was “Bad Doggy.” Not kidding! Of course, how could you ever be mad at that face?

The images above were taken with my first DSLR, a Nikon D70 with an 18-70mm lens. I borrowed it from my dad to start taking puppy pictures of Suki back in the day, and then hogged it for so long that he just let me have it. Actually, these first few pictures of Suki represent the starting point of my more passionate journey into digital photography, and she and I have both grown a little in our own respective ways since I took them:

I really wish I had more pictures of Suki as a puppy. It was such a short period of our lives, and was documented primarily using the crummy camera built into the original, first generation iPhone. What little we do have, however, we cherish =)

Written by Jonathan

February 21, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Running Shiba, Gunning Nikon V1

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Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 15mm | 1/100 sec, f/4.8, ISO 100

Suki and I have been missing on the blog for a while, but we’re back to talk about the Nikon 1 V1!

I must admit, when Nikon first announced the Nikon 1, their first mirrorless camera system, I wasn’t terribly excited. The camera’s design is on the bland side (especially compared to my Fuji X100), and the sensor, while much larger than the ones you’d find in a typical compact, is smaller than one in my Olympus E-PL2 and other m4/3 cameras. Epic fail, right? Not at all.


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G | 1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200

My initial impression of the V1’s image quality is very favorable. The files are detailed, sharp, and clean. All the lenses currently available for the 1 mount (10mm pancake, 10-30mm, 30-110mm, 10-100mm) seem to perform very well. But what intrigued me most about the V1 wasn’t so much the image quality as it was the system’s speed.


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 | 1/320 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 22mm | 1/250 sec, f/5, ISO 100

The V1 is heavily specified when it comes to speed, especially in auto-focus performance. It has a hybrid AF system that can use phase-detection and contrast detection to acquire and track focus, giving the V1 a significant edge in focus performance compared to other mirrorless cameras. The dog park was a perfect place test this capability out, and I was, to say the least, floored by how fast the AF is.

One thing’s for sure, I never expected to take a shot like this with a camera other than a DSLR:


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 22mm 1/250 sec, f/5, ISO 100

Not only is the AF blazing fast, but the camera is capable of some ridiculously high burst rates. Switching from the mechanical shutter to the electronic shutter, which incidentally has a maximum speed of 1/16,000, allows you to shoot as high as 60fps in full resolution, though at that speed you lose the ability to continuously focus. However, you can do single-point, continuous autofocus at 10fps, which is more than enough to keep up with Suki at the dog park:

In a scene like this, the V1 doesn’t stutter, hesitate, or second guess itself. You hit the shutter release and it just goes. Brilliant.


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 100mm | 1/250 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200

The dog park is relatively small, and I wanted to up the ante. Suki runs much faster in a bigger, more open area, so we headed to the beach for more Shiba Inu running action. To minimize lens changing in such sandy conditions, I used the 1 system’s super zoom, the 10-100mm VR, though I’m sure my telephoto 30-110mm Nikkor would have performed just as well here:


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 10mm | 1/160 sec, f/8, ISO 100


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 100mm  | 1/500 sec, f/8, ISO 400


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 40mm | 1/640 sec, f/5.3, ISO 100

Left: Suki at impulse speed. Right: Suki at warp speed.


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 100mm | 1/1,000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 320

Again, the camera confidently kept Suki in focus, even when she was running straight at me:


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 100mm | 1/1,000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 280


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 100mm | 1/1,000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 250


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 100mm | 1/1,000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 220


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 100mm | 1/1,000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 220

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I haven’t done too much video with the V1 yet, but it’s spec’d well in that area as well: 1920 x 1080 30p or 60i, 1280 x 720 30p with full manual exposure control, as well as some high-speed capability at lower resolutions: 400fps at 640 x 280 or 1200fps at 320 x 120. The high speed is played back at 30fps, giving you the ability to capture slow motion video. The one above was shot at 400fps. Pretty cool stuff!


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 10mm |  1/125 sec, f/4.5, ISO 180


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 100mm | 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 320


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 100mm | 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 560

My x100 has been sitting in my carry-everywhere camera bag all by itself lately. Not any more!  I can now supplement the Fuji’s excellent low light, high ISO ability with the V1’s  high performance video capabilities, fantastic focus and burst speed, and lens changing flexibility. Well, actually…. the Fuji is getting repaired right now (an entirely different story), so the 1 is all that’s in the carry-everywhere bag for now…

Which isn’t all that bad so far. The V1 is flat out fun to shoot with, the build is super solid, the metering is spot on, the image quality is surprisingly good, and boy is it fast. Will return with more impressions =)

Written by Jonathan

December 18, 2011 at 3:21 pm

When the Light is Beautiful

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Fuji X100 | 1/250 sec, f/4, ISO 400 -2/3EV

The most common questions I get in my inbox and in comments on the blog lately go something like this:

  • Is there a post processing trick you use to give your images that dimensional look?
  • What camera settings do you use to get your images to look the way they do?
  • JPEG or RAW?

These questions most often pertain to my work with the Fuji X100, which makes sense since I use it for 90% of what I’ve been shooting lately.  But my answers aren’t very cut and dry. JPEG or RAW? Both, but mostly JPEG with the X100, mostly RAW with my DSLR. Camera settings? It depends, but usually my X100 is at default settings.  Post processing tricks? My post processing workflow is usually pretty simple, especially when I shoot JPEG for my casual work. If I do anything to a JPEG in post, it’s usually adding some vignetting, converting to black and white, and/or making slight tweaks to exposure or tone curves. Emphasis on slight. Nothing crazy.

If these answers aren’t terribly satisfying, it’s simply because I believe the look of my images has more to do with what I decide to point my camera at than with how I process the images or what picture control parameters I have set at the camera. Everyone sees and thinks differently, and my settings and work flow match my own vision and depend on how I desire to interpret a given scene. But what works for me may not work for you.

That being said, for this post I’ve chosen some random images I’ve taken over the last few weeks, either while on vacation or just out and about. I’ll discuss them briefly in order to answer what I feel is a more important question:

What am I looking for when out shooting photos?


Fuji X100 | 1/350 sec, f/5, ISO 800

I’m always on the lookout for dramatic light. When looking to add a sense of dimension to an otherwise flat image on photo paper or on a computer screen, focal length choice definitely comes into play, but light does as well. I try to put highlights next to shadows in my images, which reveals texture and shape and makes simple objects look pretty interesting, even, say, an old broom.

The above image was shot during sunrise on my way to grab some coffee. The early morning sun was low in the sky, casting some dramatic side light through the city. Most of the sun was being blocked by the tall buildings that surrounded me at the time, but slivers of sun light made their way through trees and spaces between structures. From across the street I spotted this broom sticking out from a homeless person’s cart, spot lit with this dramatic beam of light. My eyes were drawn by the texture the lighting revealed on the brick, the long shadow cast by the broom, and how the broom head broke the repeating lines in the background. This is a JPEG file out of the camera, with a little vignetting and shadow darkening applied in post.


Fuji X100 | 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 800

Even something as mundane as a standpipe can look interesting in the right light. Again, highlights next to shadows bring shape and dimension into an image. The above was just a quick snap made during sunset while I was waiting outside a store for the wife to finish shopping. Below? Dramatic sunset light hitting a building. Not much else to it. Find that beautiful light, and go click!


Fuji X100 |  1/450 sec, f/5.6, ISO 800 -1/3EV


Fuji X100 | 1/450 sec, f/6.4, ISO 800

Above, the door of a subway train opens to reveal some fantastic light and shadow on the ground. Click! A couple more shots below:


Fuji X100 | 1/350 sec, f/5.6, ISO 800 -2/3EV


Fuji X100 | 1/220 sec, f/4, ISO 400 -1EV

The most common exposure setting I use is aperture priority, which I tend to stick to because it lets you make depth of field decisions while the camera takes care of the rest. It’s worth noting, therefore, that I’m on the exposure compensation dial a lot in response to these kinds of high-contrast scenes.


Fuji X100 | 1/300 sec, f/2.8, ISO 400

Light coming from behind your subject can give your viewer a sense of dimension and contrast as well. In the image above,  I made sure to compose the brightly back-lit leaves against a darker background (the building), which, in the final image, gives the leaves a more dimensional look, like they’re popping out at the viewer. A little vignetting was added in post to keep the viewer’s attention fixed on the leaves.


Fuji X100 | 1/30 sec, f/4, ISO 200 -1/3EV

In trying to create strong visual contrasts, I’m also on the lookout for colors that vibrate well together. One of my favorite looks is warm-colored light against dark, cool-colored light. The shot above was taken at Blue Bottle Coffee, where I regularly order up a brew made in these nifty siphon pots. The pots are lit by very strong orange light as they heat up, and using the tungsten white balance setting on my camera cools the orange light a little while making the daylight coming through the windows a really deep blue. I shot this one RAW, which allowed me to bring the overall color temperature down even lower in post, further cooling that blue daylight. I often use this technique by putting orange gels over my flash units.


Fuji X100 | 1/950 sec, f/2, ISO 400 -2/3EV

I made Suki stop at the sliver of sunlight above as we exited a local dog park. I think her facial expression says it all.


Fuji X100 | 1/1,000 sec, f/11, ISO 1000

For those who have been wondering about my black and white images, I convert them in Color Efex Pro II.  I also receive many questions about how I focus with the X100. Usually I’ll use the manual focus mode with the rear AFL/AEL button to activate focus. Works like a charm. If I’m chasing Suki around, or in the case above, Suki is chasing my wife and they’re both coming towards the camera, I’ll often preset my focus manually and use the camera’s distance/depth of field scale judge what’s in focus. This lets me catch the action immediately, without waiting for the camera’s auto focus to lock on my subject.


Fuji X100 | 1/250 sec, f/5.6, ISO 400 -2/3EV

I’m often drawn to reflections. Taking a walk among massive buildings covered in glass during sunrise or sunset is the best time to capture images like the one above.

Oh, and one more thing. If your intention is to get better and better at taking photos, you should always have a camera with you. Seriously. My friends make fun of me constantly because I take my camera absolutely everywhere, even when it doesn’t seem to make sense (don’t ask me to explain that). I bring it whether or not I think I’ll be taking pictures. But you know what? All of these shots were taken on outings when I didn’t expect to use my camera very much, if at all. Out on dog walks, taking trips to the store, out for a cup of coffee, these are often the only opportunities I have to focus on my personal photography these days.

But the main point? I try my best to shoot when the light is beautiful, which has a significantly greater impact on my photos than what settings I use. Hopefully this post gives those who have asked a better idea of my thought process, however. Find the camera settings and post processing techniques that match your vision, and experiment like crazy. =)

Written by Jonathan

October 7, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Blue Hour Photographs

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Fuji X100 | 9 sec, f/11, ISO 200 (JPEG output: Astia)

On the way to meet friends for dinner in downtown SF last night, I stopped by the pier to grab some night shots with the X100. It was a surprisingly warm evening. Perfect for a relaxing stroll with the camera.


Left: Fuji X100 | 1/10 sec, f/2, ISO 200 (hand-held) ||  Right: Fuji X100 | 2sec, f/11, ISO 200

At this point the light was falling fast. After a couple of hand-held snaps, I brought out my trusty gorillapod for some long expsosures:


Fuji X100 | 7 sec, f/11, ISO 200 (JPEG output: Astia)

I would normally shoot RAW when doing night photography, but out of curiosity I recorded RAW and JPEG files simultaneously. To put it simply, the X100 puts out a fantastic JPEG file.


Fuji X100 | 30 sec, f/16, ISO 200 (RAW: Processed in LR3)

The built in 3-stop neutral density filter came in handy for giving the water a more glassy look and smoothing out the clouds, though I do prefer the more dramatic sky that resulted from the 7 second exposure over the 30 second exposure above.

I continue to be amazed that such a relatively small camera packs such a serious image quality punch. I feel like such a ninja with the X100. Silent, extremely portable, and incredibly quick to deploy:


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G AFS |  1/125 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1600

Tonight I wanted to get a couple frames of the Golden Gate during blue hour. Arrived on site, jumped out of the car, climbed down on the rocks, plopped the small rig down and fired away. I was happy that the fog stayed high enough in the sky to be a sweet element in the photo without completely shrouding the bridge, which is often the case in this very foggy city.


Fuji X100 | 30 sec, f/11, ISO 200 (RAW: Processed in LR3/CS5)

Click on the image above to see a larger version on my City and Landscape gallery.

Written by Jonathan

August 19, 2011 at 10:55 pm

The One Reason Why I’m a Morning Person

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Fuji X100 | 1/60 sec, f/4, ISO 1250

This is definitely what I call starting the morning right. Waking up extra early for the sole purpose of chilling at Four Barrel over a cappuccino? Worth it:

For me, coming here during the week means coming when the shop opens. People trickle in here and there, but it’s certainly not busy.

Later in the morning, however, Four Barrel is bustling. The pour-over coffee station opens up, and people pile in to get their fill of individually brewed cups of coffee. After grabbing my own cup, I head out side to hang out with Suki and Bridge at the public “parklet.” We sip away while watching the Valencia street traffic whiz by.

I’m not a morning person at all actually. I just really, really love coffee.

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Early Morning Images: Fuji X100 | Film Sim: ASTIA (JPEG output)
Late Morning Images: Fuji X100 | Film Sim: Provia (JPEG output)

Written by Jonathan

August 7, 2011 at 10:07 pm