Jonathan Fleming's Blog

A Photography Blog

Posts Tagged ‘night

First Clicks With the Nikon D800

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  Nikon D800 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G | 6 sec, f/8, ISO 100

Bridget and I made a brief drive out to one of our favorite spots to view the Golden Gate after work tonight. Well, she drove. I was busy unboxing the D800 I received only a couple hours earlier. I set it up the best I could in the car, and as soon as we arrived, took a few frames of the bridge during dusk. Hoo boy does this thing bring on the pixels.

More impressions to come…

Written by Jonathan

March 26, 2012 at 9:40 pm

The Joys of Night Photography

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Fuji X100 | 1/8 sec, f/2, ISO 3200 [hand-held]

You gotta love the daylight savings time shift that happens in fall over here. Setting our clocks back an hour means the sun is already well below the horizon by the time I get out of the office. So during my evening walks with Suki, instead of that beautiful light cast by a setting sun that I love for photographs, I now have only the dim, oddly colored light cast by city street lamps to work with. Sigh.

Fuji X100 | 1/50 sec, f/2, ISO 3200

Not much else to do besides crank up the ISO and pin my camera at its widest aperture. Or lug a tripod around, which is not very practical on an outing with the dog.

Instead, I try to manage low shutter speeds at night by working on my hand-holding technique. The x100 has a relatively wide lens on it, which makes hand-holding a bit easier than it would be with a longer lens. Bracing myself on something solid helps, as does paying attention to my breathing. I find that taking a shot during the natural pause between exhalation and inhalation works wonders in getting sharp shots at low-shutter speeds.

As far as high ISO performance, the x100 is pretty good. All the images in this post were taken at either ISO3200 or ISO6400, and all are out of camera JPEGs.

Fuji X100 | 1/55 sec, f/2, ISO 3200

Files at these sensitivities seem just as clean to me as the ones I get from my D700, though I’d say the D700 still has the edge in detail retention at high ISO. Can’t tell the difference when you’re posting to a blog though, that’s for sure.

Focus is tricky when the light is this dim, especially with a contrast detect system like the one in the x100. Not entirely impossible though, and the electronic viewfinder makes framing in low light super easy.

Coming to the dog park in the dark sure feels strange now. At this time during the summer, there’d still be plenty of sunlight out.

Fuji X100 |  1/30 sec, f/2, ISO 6400

Fuji X100 |  1/70 sec, f/2, ISO 3200

You know what’s depressing? I go to work early enough to miss the morning sunrise as well. What gives with that!? Oh well. I’m totally looking forward to the weekend.

Written by Jonathan

November 11, 2011 at 6:32 pm

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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


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Fuji X100 | 1/80 sec, f/2, ISO 800

After a pretty late dinner this evening, I headed with some friends to Smitten Ice Cream in San Francisco. Now, there are lots of places to get a pretty good scoop of ice cream in this town, but Smitten is really quite special.

Fuji X100 | 1/125 sec, f/2, ISO 800

Each cup of Smitten’s awesome ice cream is made to order and served out of a small kiosk in Hayes Valley. The kiosk itself was constructed out of a recycled shipping container. How cool is that? And yes, I said the ice cream is made to order, as in they make the actual ice cream when you order it. They use these interesting-looking, liquid nitrogen packing machines that steam like a crazy science experiment while they churn a fresh batch of ice cream for you in about a minute.

Fuji X100 | 1/60 sec, f/2, ISO 1000

The folks at Smitten claim that using something as crazy cold as liquid nitrogen (-320 degrees F!!!) results in smaller ice crystals and therefore a creamier consistency.  They must know what they’re talking about, because the Salted Caramel ice cream I had tonight was hands down the creamiest ice cream I’ve ever had.

Fuji X100 | 1/60 sec, f/2, ISO 2500

The wife had malted vanilla with cookie crumbles on top. Yummmm. Smitten always has Vanilla and Chocolate flavors on hand, and provides other flavors as rotating weekly specials. Reason enough to keep coming back.

Check out!

Written by Jonathan

July 2, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Off The Grid

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Dinner is served on the street tonight! San Francisco’s “Off The Grid” is a mobile market of gourmet food trucks that serve lunch and dinner weekly at various locations in the city. Tonight, the trucks converged on Upper Haight.

Yep, it’s cold in SF, but that doesn’t stop people from bundling up and getting in line for some taco truck action. These aren’t your typical roach coaches though. Gourmet, organic….hey, any trendy food buzz world you want to throw in the air, this mobile market has you covered.

The trucks line up in a circle surrounding the “dining area.” Basically a bunch of plastic chairs randomly strewn about on the street.

Where do you think I ate tonight? Best Sisig tacos I’ve ever had, ever! Every taco should have Sisig in it. Too mouth-watering to photograph. I think I finished two of them during the walk between the truck and my seat!

A little bit of live music adds to the ambience.

Of course, one of the most important reasons why I love dinner on the street is that I can have Suki with me. I’m not sure how she feels about it though. Can you tell she’s irritated that I won’t share my Sisig Tacos with her?

All images tonight courtesy of my D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G. Even though I’ve been loving my time with with the Olympus E-PL2, there’s a limit to its abilities. Trying to stop action and quickly auto focus under nothing but dim artificial lighting, with ISOs between 1600 and 3200, I was in D700 territory at tonight’s market. It’s worth noting, however, that the E-PL2 is so light and compact that I had it with in my bag as well.

Written by Jonathan

March 3, 2011 at 11:44 pm

More Night Photography

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There’s something about the beginning of every year…. always such an incredibly busy time for me. As responsibilities pile up, one after another in these early months of the year, I find myself shooting less and less. Seems like before, I was able to head out at random times just for the sake of picture making. Now it seems like I have to consciously make time for it, often just squeezing it between other arrangements…

…which is why lately, a lot of my shooting has to take place at night. City scenes lit only by oddly-colored, man-made lighting. Can’t carry a tripod around. These shots are made on the go, between errands, or before and after dinner arrangements, as was the case on this particular evening.

When I shoot at night, I like to have some ambient from the sky mixing with the city light. That’s usually what gives you those beautiful “blue hour” photographs. Unfortunately, the sun sets long before I get off work in the winter, so black sky it is. A super fast lens is therefore a must!

All of the shots in this post were taken hand-held  ISO1600. You don’t necessarily need a full frame sensor to get nice results at that sensitivity. You just need some steady hand-holding technique, coupled with a wide aperture lens. Besides giving you greater control over depth of field, you get more light hitting the sensor, meaning faster, hand-holdable shutter speeds, even in near darkness.

Speaking of hand-holding shots, the wider the focal length, the lower the shutter speed you can typically hand hold. Which makes a lens like the 24mm f1.4 ideal for night shooting.

Above, you can see the storefront of a small Puerto Rican restaurant I ate at with some friends and family over the weekend. The food was amazing. Didn’t even bother photographing it because I was too busy eating!

(oh no! distortion-revealing brick walls!)

The interior was super small and cramped. A sign on the wall read “maximum occupancy 40.” Yeah, maybe standing room only! But it was cozy and inviting inside. This tiny store is sandwiched between a huge bustling restaurant and an old bar:

Outside, you certainly don’t forget you’re in a city. But what would Haight Street be without its tagged up garbage cans?

After dinner we walked off all the tostones, pernil, rice, beans, and sangria, taking pictures along the way. Here’s Bridget getting her iphoneography on. Yes, that’s her iphone, not an old mix tape. Cool case, huh?


Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G

Written by Jonathan

February 2, 2011 at 12:47 pm

NYC at Night

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Just another post with images from my short trip to New York last month. We stopped by 30 Rock and paid too much to head to the top and photograph the view. Sure was breathtaking from up there!

We got there at around 6:15pm which was only minutes before sunset. All I had to work with was city light and a dusky sky. No tripods allowed meant really high ISO shooting up there.

From the bottom of the rock looking up, and boy is it a long way up!

After that we passed through Times Square on our way back to our hotel in Brooklyn Heights. Favorite lenses for that area were my 50mm 1.4 and 16mm fisheye. More wide aperture, high ISO action!

Bridget, always holding shopping bags. I’m sure there’s some camera equipment in that purse though. =)

The next morning it was coffee, camera, and walking the Brooklyn Bridge. I miss NY already! No exif data on these shots right now since I’m posting from work. =)


Camera Specs: Nikon D700 / Nikkor AFS 50mm f/1.4G / Nikkor AFS 16-35mm f/4 VRII / Nikkor 16mm f/2.8

Written by Jonathan

November 3, 2010 at 1:25 pm