Jonathan Fleming's Blog

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Suki’s Scarf: The outtakes

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The 52 week flickr project I’m doing about Suki only allows for one photo a week of course. This means that every week I usually have several outtake images that weren’t selected for the project. Today’s post features some outtakes from week 8 of 52.

We have this little pink scarf that fits perfectly on Suki. I’ve taken pictures with her wearing it before, but I just had to include a shot of her with it on for the project. These images were taken after she played around all afternoon at a local dog park this past Sunday. We started walking around the neighborhood after visiting the park, and at one point we just stopped on the sidewalk and started shooting.

Lighting is pretty simple here. One off camera SB-900 triggered by the on camera pop-up, gelled orange and shooting through a lastolite tri-grip diffuser. It was so dark out that manual exposure was necessary.

Nikon D300s + Tokina 50-135 f/2.8 (varying focal lengths) ISO640 1/30 Second

A New Blog and Portfolio

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So I thought I’d try something new and start another blog. I noticed lately that I have a ton of Hipstamatic images sitting in my Iphone collecting virtual dust, so I created a blog dedicated to Hipstamatic. Check it out!

I also decided to get a portfolio started today. I was introduced to a cool site called carbonmade that offers a very simple and slick portfolio experience. You can check out this work-in-progress here:

Written by Jonathan

January 25, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Hipstamatic for Iphone

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Screenshot from Iphone

I just downloaded what I think will be my favorite iPhone camera application yet. Digitally imitating the quirky, unreliable, unpredictable output of film toy cameras, Hipstamatic for iPhone features a slick and creative interface. You select effects by swapping “lenses” or “film” or even “flash gels” on the “camera” to achieve film-like effects.

You can toggle between the front and back of the camera within the interface. The front of the camera let’s you change “lenses” with the swipe of a finger. Each “lens” has its own color, blurring, and vignetting characteristics. You can add more effects by using different “flash gels,” or swap out the “film” to shoot in black and white or to change the look of the borders.

Camera Front

Camera Back

On the back of the virtual camera is a shutter button, a menu where you can review your “prints”, and a small “viewfinder” for composing your shots. You can program the “viewfinder” to be an accurate one, or an unpredictable inaccurate representation of the scene. Here are some wonderfully crummy shots that I took after downloading the app:

Hipstamatic + John S lens + Kodot Verichrome Film, Flash off

Hipstamatic + John S lens + Kodot Verichrome Film, Flash off

Hipstamatic + Helga Viking Lens + Kodot Verichrome Lens, Flash off

Blurry, Over-saturated, and heavily vignetted? Oh yes!!!!

Hipstamatic + John S lens + Pistil film, Flash off

From the Recent Prints screen, you can review what lenses/film/flash setups you used for each shot, and output to Facebook or Email from within the app. At $1.99 for the app plus $0.99 for extra lens/film/flash packs, Hipstamatic has earned its place on the first page of my iPhone homescreen. Ok, time to go get my “shoot, don’t think” on!


Update: I have a blog in place for my Hipstamatic shots now: Check it out!

Written by Jonathan

December 27, 2009 at 3:44 pm

From the Hot Shoe

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Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 50mm f/5.6 ISO200 1/30 Second, SB-800 on Camera

Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 50mm f/5.6, ISO200 1/30 Second, SB-800 on Camera

Ok, so after we got home from work last night, I was photographing some items for Bridget that she wants to list on Ebay, and I decided “hey, I like your hairdo today, let’s take a couple pictures of you.” After she lamented that her makeup was smudging off and she wasn’t happy with the way she looked, we got started anyway. =)

With a single, ceiling mounted lamp providing ambient light, there’s no way we were going to make a pretty photograph without flash, so I mounted my SB-800. Is it possible to produce soft, pretty light with a flash mounted on the lens’s axis? One of the photos above might make you think not.

The photo on the right was taken with straight, bare flash on the camera set to i-TTL (intelligent through the lens metering). And there you have it: a nearly two thousand dollar camera making a properly exposed, aesthetically disastrous photograph. The harsh, straight light hits my poor wife right in the face, creating hot spots, flattening her features and widening her face, lighting up her ear like crazy (which draws the viewer away from her eyes), and casting unflattering shadows, including a big huge mass of dark ugliness in the background behind her. Yuck. And it’s my fault, not hers nor the camera’s.

Small light sources produce harsh light, and camera mounted flash fired straight at a subject kills depth and dimension. For the shot on the left, I used the same settings in the camera, but tilted the flash head 90 degrees, pointing straight up. Turning the camera vertical, the flash was now firing straight into a large white wall to my left. The camera and flash took care of nailing the exposure for me (though I did dial down the flash power just a tad after a test shot). Now, the light is popping off the SB-800, spreading, then hitting a large white surface, spreading even more, and then coming down and sideways across my subject, producing light that is directional, soft, even, and dimensional. It’s like a big fat soft box, without the soft box.

I guess the moral of the story is….for the love of all that is good, do everything you can to avoid firing on-camera flash straight at your subject! Unless, of course, you’re not particularly fond of your subject 😉


Written by Jonathan

October 27, 2009 at 8:15 am

Tamron SP 17-50mm f/2.8 Di II VC

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Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC Mounted on my Nikon D300s

Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC Mounted on my Nikon D300s


I’m extremely excited to have received my brand new Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC. VC, or Vibration Control, is Tamron’s version of optical image stabilization, which compensates for camera shake while taking photos, allowing more flexibility in low light photography. I previously owned the non-stabilized version of the Tamron 17-50mm, which I sold my cousin in order to nab this one. So, as a former owner of the last lens, there are some differences other than the new VC feature that I can note between this updated version and the older Tamron 17-50.

First of all, this new VC version seems very slightly larger and heavier, but the difference is hard to really feel in practice. To me, the construction/build quality of the lens looks and feels superior to the older Tamron, though still not as rugged as my Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8. The VC lens also takes 72mm filters instead of the 67mm ring size of the older lens, which means I’m gonna have to go filter shopping now.

My new Tamron seems to make lots of interesting noises during shooting. First of all, while the zoom ring operated quietly on the older 17-50, the zoom ring on the VC version makes a strange sound that I can’t seem to describe any other way than as the sound of zipping up the zipper on a camping tent. Not sure if that description makes any sense, but the sound doesn’t really bother me and may fade in time. Focusing sounds are noisy like the older lens, and while this lens seems to focus very fast on my D300s (I never had a chance to mount the old one on my new camera), the noise that the non-silent wave motor makes during operation seems similar to the old one: noisy, but not objectionably so in my opinion. Then, of course, there is the noise coming from the VC system. You know the sound that a conch makes when you put your ear up to it? Yeah, kinda sounds like that.

About the VC system. I’m used to using optical stabilization on my longer Nikkor 70-300mm lens, where hand holding the lens racked out at 300mm and activating VR reduces the shake in the viewfinder significantly but not completely. When I look through the viewfinder with the Tamron mounted and VC active at these shorter focal lengths, the image in the viewfinder looks dead still….like scary still. It’s pretty awesome.

While out on the town this evening I decided to do a little practical test of the VC’s effectiveness. Here’s a shot I took on a tripod tonight with the new lens:

Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 18mm f/18, 8 Seconds ISO200

Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 18mm f/18, 8 Seconds ISO200

During the same shooting session, I took two shots from the same spot, but hand-held. One shot was taken with VC active and one without. Here’s a crop from each (cropped from the center window on the Castro Theater). Both these images were shot in RAW and converted to JPEG in Adobe Lightroom without any adjustments made. Note the camera settings in each shot:

Without VC:

Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/ 2.8 VC at 20mm f/8.0, 1/8 Sec ISO 800 (VC OFF)

Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/ 2.8 VC at 20mm f/8.0, 1/8 Sec ISO 800 (VC OFF)

With VC:

Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 20mm f/8, 1/8 Sec ISO 500

Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 20mm f/8, 1/8 Sec ISO 500

I made a little mistake in this test that actually made it turn out a little better in a way. Notice that the settings are identical in each shot except for the ISO settings. The non-VC shot is set at ISO800 while the VC shot is at ISO500. This is because when I took the camera off the tripod to start shooting hand-held, I instinctively set the camera to auto-ISO, so the camera started changing the ISO from one shot to the other (auto ISO effected not only by what the meter is seeing but also by whether or not VC is active). If I had manually kept the ISO the same in both shots, the blur in the non VC shot would have been more exaggerated.

But as you can see, even with a higher ISO sensitivity, the shot with VC off shows significant blur from camera motion compared to the shot with VC on at a lower sensitivity setting. These shots were taken at a pretty small aperture considering they were both taken at dusk, and the fact that the shot with VC was sharp down to 1/8 of a second combined with a pretty low ISO in this case is really promising. For static, low-light subjects (which make up a lot of the shots I take), the optical stabilization will allow me to take more usable photos when I don’t have a tripod. The VC will also give me more usable apertures in low-light, which is great if I decide I want more depth of field or sharpness in a hand-held low-light shot, rather than having to resort cranking up the ISO, shooting at f/2.8, and hoping the shutter speed is high enough to stop the shake.

Here’s the non-cropped version of the hand-held photo of the Castro Theater with VC active:

Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 VC at 20mm f/8, 1/8 Second ISO 500

Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 VC at 20mm f/8, 1/8 Second ISO 500

Overall I really look forward to using this Tamron. My favorite lens has still got to be my Tokina 11-16 f/2.8, but this one will probably come to be a very close second, and will probably be on my camera 90% of the time I shoot. Well, I don’t know about 90%…..we’ll just have to see!

Update 11/20/09:

Check out a few shots I took at a recent wedding with the Tamron 17-50 VC here.

Check out more hand held low light shots at a museum with the Tamron here.

Or, just click the 70-50 tag to see all the photos I’ve taken so far with the Tamron 17-50 VC.


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Nikon D90 + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 at 11mm f/11, ISO200, 40.0 Seconds (Cropped)

Nikon D90 + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 at 11mm f/11, ISO200, 40.0 Seconds (Cropped)

The weather in San Francisco hasn’t allowed a lot of shooting lately, as the fog continues to thwart my attempts to capture beautiful color in the sky, but tonight I found a patch of blue night sky in Corona Heights after taking my dog to the park there for an evening run. The Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 continues to impress, and as of now, is mounted to my camera a good 90% of the time I’m shooting.

Suki at the Dog Park

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Nikon D90 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 at 200mm f/10, ISO800 1/1000 Sec

Nikon D90 + 70-300mm VR f/4.5-5.6 at 200mm f/10, ISO800 1/1000 Sec

Nikon D90 + Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR at 300mm f/8.0, ISO 800 1/1000 Second

Nikon D90 + Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR at 300mm f/8.0, ISO 800 1/1000 Second

Suki had a great time at the dog park today. We took her to the the dog run on 30th and Church street in the Noe Valley area of San Francisco. There were tons of dogs there for her to play with this afternoon. Suki is nearing 20 months old now, and is still as social as ever. She has this hilarious ability to come into a large group of dogs and become the center of attention. While she tries to wrestle with one dog, two or three dogs would try to wrestle with her! It’s quite a sight. Her favorite thing to do in the whole world has always been to socialize with other dogs, which is quite rare for a Shiba Inu. Most of the Shibas I’ve ever met were either aloof or just downright mean to other dogs. I’ve met a few that were friendly, but Suki is BEYOND friendly with other dogs of all sizes and breeds. I really love that she’s like that, because who wants to bring a moody dog to play at the dog park? =)

Nikon D90 + Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR at 300mm f/6.3, ISO 800 1/1000 Second // This is Suki bolting to the front gate to greet a new dog entering the park

Nikon D90 + Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR at 300mm f/6.3, ISO 800 1/1000 Second // This is Suki bolting to the front gate to greet a new dog entering the park

Written by Jonathan

August 23, 2009 at 4:17 am