Jonathan Fleming's Blog

A Photography Blog

Posts Tagged ‘japanese

Champi the Akita

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If Suki was as big as she thinks she is, she’d probably look just like Champi, the most adorable Akita ever! We finally had a chance to meet this giant puppy over the weekend.

The best way I can think to describe Champi is, well….she’s like a massive Shiba.  She looks like what would happen if Suki ate one of those Super Mario mushrooms. Can you hear the sound effect in your head?

Look at that face! So cute it’s ridiculous. Whenever Champi would get close enough, I’d try to give her a great big Akita hug. But just like Suki, this pup is well versed in the art of evading human affection.

Evasive maneuvers!

A couple of Japan’s national treasures right here, apparently discussing which smaller dog to chase together:

The larger, Clifford-sized Champi would periodically take breaks from all the action, unlike the smaller Suki, who prefers to stay on her feet.

Despite the sun being out, it was freezing at the dog park, and high winds blew dirt all over my camera as well as Suki’s eyes. Not good for allergies (or for lens changing).

Trying to get both dogs in the frame is harder than you might think. More often than not, Suki and Champi would be moving in opposite directions. Most of my shots from the meetup look like this:

We humans had to duck, spin, dive, and spray bursts of frames to catch these two together!

Make sure your you check out the very epic 52 Weeks of Champi project! Of course, Suki has one as well ;)

All Images: Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-30mm & 30-110mm VR lenses

Written by Jonathan

January 16, 2012 at 4:20 pm

More Dog Park Antics

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Packing up and getting ready to head out alone on a photo walk, I turn around as I open the front door to see Suki giving me the “I’m going too, right?” look. Agh, she gets me every time! Ok Suki, let’s go… People often ask me how I get Suki to cooperate when I take pictures of her, or to cooperate with anything for that matter. Here’s the simple answer: get her tired first! There’s no better place for her to run some energy down than at the dog park:

If I need Suki to chillax while I take pictures out on the street, the day has to start here, where she engages other dogs in GLORIOUS BATTLE!

Ok. Not really =)

We’ve never met a Corgi that Suki didn’t absolutely love. Maybe she finds it endearing that they look like stubby, disproportionate Shibas.

Besides the sparring, the dog park is a great place to play fetch. Fetch on Suki’s terms, that is. I love how she starts playing “soccer” with some random lady at around 00:35 in the video clip above. Towards the end, she’s like “eh, I’m done.”

I actually did do a photo walk with Suki after this visit to the park, but I’ll make that a separate post. =)

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Images: Nikon D700 + Nikkor AFS 24mm f/1.4G
Video: Olympus PEN EPL-2 + M. Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 MSC

Written by Jonathan

March 31, 2011 at 9:08 am

Team Suki

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A fellow photographer, and as I just discovered today, super-awesome illustrator sent me the image you see above this morning. Inspired by my work this year for 52 Weeks of Suki, the original hand-drawn artwork is on it’s way to me in the mail. What a cool gift! She included so many specific details that I bust out laughing every time I look at the drawing. Everything’s there, from Suki’s signature paw print collar and proud demeanor, Bridget’s white coat and scarf (and freckles), to my low and tight shooting technique. She’s even got Bridget flying much of that off-camera flash over Suki’s head, ensuring that there’s not too much spill heating up the lower portion of my frame. Brilliant! =)

A big thank you to my friend Cindy for this lovely work of art!

Written by Jonathan

December 10, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Going Wide

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Nikon D700 + Nikkor AFS 16-35mm f/4G VRII at 20mm f/4, 1/80 second ISO3200

What a great time to be a Nikon shooter. The company has been releasing an exciting variety of new high-performance glass into its lineup, and I couldn’t help but be a part of the action! Just picked up the new Nikkor 16-35mm f/4 VRII, and I’m in love.


Nikon D700 + Nikkor AFS 16-35mm f/4G VRII at 16mm f/4, 1/320 second ISO1600

Of course, with an optic this wide, you have to really push in tight for portraits. This is Suki’s “uh, get that big fat lens out of my face” look.


Nikon D700 + Nikkor AFS 16-35mm f/4G VRII at 16mm f/4, 1/100 second ISO400

This is Suki’s “I’m not feelin’ being on top of this garbage can and am certainly not going to pretend that I’m enjoying it, so don’t bother” look.


Nikon D700 + Nikkor AFS 16-35mm f/4G VRII at 16mm f/4, 1/100 second ISO400

…and this is Suki thinking “what’s with the crooked horizon line in this shot? You’re killin’ me!” Ok not really….


Nikon D700 + Nikkor AFS 16-35mm f/4G VRII at 16mm f/4, 1/60 second ISO800

See? Suki is not as easy to work with as you might think!


Nikon D700 + Nikkor AFS 16-35mm f/4G VRII at 16mm f/4, 1/10 second ISO800

Anyway, besides being a definite go-to lens for my Suki Project, this thing will have a special place in my bag for travel, as well as city and landscape photography….


Nikon D700 + Nikkor AFS 16-35mm f/4G VRII at 16mm f/4, 1/30 second ISO6400

….or environmental portraits. I was also thinking of the 14-24 f/2.8 from Nikon, a legendary ultra wide, but size, weight, and cost considerations put me off. No regrets =)

Does Flash Have to Look Like…Flash?

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Suki and I headed out to the beach for a stroll along the water this evening after I got off work. The weather has been totally gloomy in San Francisco lately, however, so there wasn’t any dramatic light to make use of when arrived on sight. The test shot I took of her above gives you an indication of what kind of light was out there tonight. Blegh…Suki knows it too.

There was simply too much wind to use any sort of large light modifier, so I had to add some light in with my bare strobes. What to do? Thought I’d create a sunset-like effect with a single SB-900 placed maybe 20 or 30 feet from our position. Here’s how it turned out:

Placed a full cut of orange gel (CTO) over the bare SB-900 to give it the orange glow you’d expect from the sun when it’s low on the horizon. See? Flash doesn’t have to look like “flash,” right?

Now Suki is getting into it!

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Nikon D300s + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8

Written by Jonathan

August 20, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Suki and Me… [and video on the D300s!]

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Some people who only know Suki from her photos tend to think that she’s a larger dog. I’ll admit that I try to use angles and perspectives that make her appear larger than she is, but Shiba Inus are definitely small dogs. Not lap dog small, but not big either. I say they’re perfectly sized! The image above should give you a clear view of Suki’s relative size. Suki and I were strolling through the city when this reflective glass caught my attention. I actually like how the dirty glass distorted the photo and made it hazy and low-contrast. Looks sort of “filmy.”

See? Suki is pretty little. This image is sort of an optical illusion, however, as the parking meter is a few feet closer to the camera than she is, making it appear much larger than her. The whole reason we were taking a stroll through town with my camera was, of course, to catch an image of her for week 30 of my 52 week project. We used the art we found on this wall here for the final image. Check it out here!

And now for more randomness. Got together with some good friends last night. When the dancing started, I decided to skip the stills and give video a try again on my D300s:

I’m obviously not much a videographer, but for casual clips, it’s great having video in my DSLR for the simple fact that I can use any of my lenses. Notice the shallow depth of field I achieved using my 50mm f/1.4 wide open for the video, which made focus very difficult but added a lot of depth to the recording (just make sure you switch the video to 720p resolution). Now I wish I had brought my fisheye to the party!

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Images and Video: Nikon D300s + Nikkor AFS 50mm f/1.4G

Written by Jonathan

August 2, 2010 at 11:59 am

Life Without My Mid-Range Zoom

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Found an optical defect in one of the inner elements of my Tamron 17-50mm /f2.8 VC a couple weeks ago. As soon as I discovered the problem, I shipped the lens over to a Tamron service center. I promptly received notice from Tamron that the issue would be repaired under warranty, but I’m still waiting for the lens to return. At first I thought I’d have a real tough time without the lens, but I must say that so far, I don’t miss those mid-range focal lengths very much at all. I think it’s because the 17-50mm range just doesn’t give you a whole lot of control over the perception of space and distance in a photograph.

I usually like to either expand foreground and background elements using an ultra-wide lens, or compress the foreground and background using a long telephoto. An example of the latter is seen in the image above. Shot at 165mm, you can really see how compressed the elements in the frame are, giving Suki a really powerful presence in the photo. In contrast, check out a similar image shot at 78mm:

See? Not quite as dramatic, right? Even Suki is disappointed, as you can see by her facial expression. Now if you really want to isolate your subject from the background, try an even longer focal length:

Same location, only with my lens at 280mm. The background gets so compressed at this focal length that it becomes unrecognizable, which completely isolates Suki in the foreground. This is the kind of creative control that a telephoto zoom lens can give you. So the next time you’re out taking photos, think about what you’re trying to accomplish before you start rotating that zoom ring. Are you zooming because you’d rather stay in one spot instead of moving closer to your subject, or are you trying to alter the perception of space and distance in your image? It’s almost always best to consider the latter first.

Ok, so it’s not that I don’t want my Tamron 17-50 anymore. It’s usually the lens I grab first if I have no idea what I’m going out to shoot. But I know now that I can definitely live without that focal range.

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Camera Specs: Nikon D300s + Nikkor AFS 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR