Jonathan Fleming's Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘Nikkor 24-120 f/4 VRII

Engagement: Rodney and Michelle

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What a difference a week makes. Last weekend we cancelled this engagement shoot due to cold, windy, rainy conditions. This weekend, we couldn’t have asked for better weather! Met up with the Rodney and Michelle at the Palace of Fine Arts for another go at their engagement photos. I’m posting a small sampling here, and more at the gallery section of my website, Enjoy!

With such a beautiful couple, gorgeous location, and perfect weather, what more could a photographer ask for? Make sure you check out more from the session at my website,, where the images are deliciously hi-resolution!

A little technical info:

This session was all about long focal lengths. On a day like this, you can expect lots of people to be at this beautiful location, including a bunch of other photographers with their respective clients. Shooting with my 70-200 f/2.8 racked out helped eliminate these distractions. Other gear involved:

Nikkor AFS 24-120mm f/4G VRII

Nikkor AFS 24mm f/1.4G

Nikkor AFS 16-35mm f/4G

SB-900 units, lastolite tri grip, Ezybox 24″x24″ for the strobist stuff.

Written by Jonathan

April 3, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Flash Bus San Francisco

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Joe McNally and David Hobby’s Flash Bus arrived in South San Francisco today for an all-day conference on all things flash. To see these two live was a big deal for me. These guys are masters!

According to Joe and David, San Francisco’s attendance was the largest yet since the tour started. I wasn’t expecting so many people to be there, but wow, was it packed!

A quick FaceTime with Suki (left). Bag of goodies courtesy of Adorama (right)

The gear table. That’s about $4000 worth of SB-900/Justin Clamp goodness lined up right there. And below, about a bazillion dollars worth of lenses. Drool.

Hey, I want my name on my Lastolite Softbox! Apparently Joe had been bugging Lastolite to make a white-lined Ezy Box instead of silver, and they finally gave in, and named it after him. Coolness.

I also would have liked to be one of the V.A.L. volunteers, with these front row seats (right)…you’ll see why in a moment.

Chattin’ it up with Joe during  a break. After reading all of his books, following his blog, and watching every video he’s been involved in with Kelby Training, it was hard not to feel quite star struck when meeting Joe for the first time. After all, everything I’ve learned about flash photography, including so much of the technique that went into last years 52 week project, I learned from this guy. Meeting him was awesome. Very down to earth, funny, and mild, yet so full of photographic knowledge and experience.  A legendary artist and a skilled teacher.

Same goes for David Hobby. Crazy cool guy, and so knowledgeable in the language of light that it blew my mind. Too bad I arrived a little late and got a pretty bleh seat. Unfortunately, the auditorium was not sloped, so it was nearly impossible to get a shot of the stage without someone’s out-of-focus head getting in my shot.

Chicken Scratch.

David started off the seminar with a great lecture about on-location lighting technique.

After lunch, Joe took over and got hands-on with TTL flash photography demonstrations. While I did learn a ton listening to Hobby in the morning, there’s nothing quite like watching Joe do his thing.

The lighting was atrocious in the conference center. Most of these shots sit between ISO3200 and ISO6400.

Joe called up some volunteers to help out with a shot that ended up involving nearly 30 speedlights. The result was, well, see for yourself:

Very cool. See the actual image on Joe’s Blog.

He’d also pick random people out of the audience and make portraits of them. Running two SB units through a large diffusion panel gave him the result on the right. So simple, and yet such a fantastic result.

A little QnA at the end of the day.

To say I enjoyed it would be an understatement!


D700 | 24-120mm f/4 VR | 70-200 f/2.8 VRII

The Silent Photo Walk

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Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120 f/4 VR

Today’s post includes images from this past Sunday, when I went on a photo walk with a friend of mine who recently took up photography as a hobby. We started in San Francisco’s Mission Bay area. What’s up with the title of this blog entry? I’ll explain a little later in the post.

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120 f/4 VR

On this bright and sunny day in San Francisco, I decided to try something a little different and shoot the entire walk in JPEG (gasp!). I realized that since I shoot RAW almost exclusively, I’ve never really had a chance to test out my D700’s JPEG engine. I wanted to see, for example, how the camera’s D-Lighting handled high contrast situations and get a better feel for Nikon’s highly customizable picture control settings.

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120 f/4 VR

(My friend insisted we take Suki along. I take her everywhere anyway, so that wasn’t an issue) =)

There’s something kind of liberating about getting your shot processed in the camera and just being done with it. I did some cropping on a couple of these images after uploading them to my computer. I added a little vignetting here and there, and that was it. Easy peasy!

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120 f/4 VR

Since the camera was doing all the processing, I found myself thinking more carefully about what settings I was using, what my white balance should be, what saturation and contrast settings I should use to achieve a certain look.  Turned out to be a pretty interesting and enjoyable exercise.

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120 f/4 VR

Colors look great out of the camera. The D700 produces an excellent JPEG file, that’s for sure. It seems to handle really difficult high contrast scenes well too, doing a great job preventing highlight clipping while preserving shadow detail when the lighting gets ugly. Pretty impressive out-of-the-camera results.

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G

Besides my funky JPEG project for the day, our photo walk had another interesting twist: it was silent, as in no talking. Huh?! Well, it was silent by necessity. My new-to-photography friend is deaf, so all our joking, camera talk, and general conversation was done in ASL. I must say, teaching someone about photography in sign language is a very interesting challenge. We had a blast =)

On my recommendation, my buddy here recently picked up a 50mm prime lens for his Canon DSLR. Part of the reason for our photo walk was to help him put the new lens through its paces. In harmony with that (and to lighten up my camera so I could sign with one hand and shoot with the other if need be), I put my zoom lens away and mounted my own 50mm for the rest of the day.

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G

If you’re just starting out in photography like my friend is, do yourself a favor and pick up a 50mm fast prime to add to your kit. Both Canon and Nikon make 50mm 1.8 lenses that not only perform very well, especially for low-light photography, but are light-weight and very inexpensive. Nikon also makes a very inexpensive 35mm f/1.8 that’s really a must for every DX shooter.

So with our 50’s mounted, we chased Suki around at a local dog park for a while:

We also spent some time in San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza area. Great place for a photo walk:

After I took the following shot, I got a better understanding of how I must look when I’m taking photos of Suki. I usually get the camera even lower than he is here, so I must look really ridiculous!

Suki looks thrilled, doesn’t she?

Taking a break at Blue Bottle Coffee. You don’t think I headed out to the Ferry Building just to take pictures, do you? 😉

No coffee for you, Suki!

Heading back to the car after dinner. Photo walks…. gotta love ’em.

Nikon D700
Nikkor AFS 24-120mm f/4 VRII
Nikkor AFS 50mm f/1.4G

Written by Jonathan

February 25, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Days off Work Totally Rock

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Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII

This month has been absolute mayhem, so we decided to take a day off work this week to recover. I LOVE days off….I get to go out and take photos all day. Extremely therapeutic. I snapped away with my DSLR of course, but also had a great time using my iPhone, with its many quirky filter options. You’ll see images from both in this post.

The day started with a hike together with Suki. We wanted to make sure she was plenty tired so she could relax at home while the wife and I spent the rest of the day together (hey, we need alone time sometimes!).  The low fog over the bay area made the hike pretty interesting.

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII

The fog really diffused the morning light and made saturated photos of plant life a breeze. I found myself drawn to this weird fungus that was growing all over the branches of the trees along the trail.

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII

The base of the hill was entirely covered in fog, and started thinking the hike wouldn’t be worth it…but then the sun started peaking out. Yes!

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII

As the sun started rising higher and burning the fog off, we paused for a quick shot of Suki. Didn’t turn out so well. During my 52 week project last year, we would have kept shooting until we got exactly what I wanted in a situation like this. What a pain in the butt that was! In this case, it didn’t work, and I didn’t care =)

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 16-35mm f/4 VR

The view from the top of the mountain was beautiful indeed.  Only problem was that by the time we got up there, the sun was blaring directly over the landscape and into my lens. Had a hard time fighting the flare, but oh well. See that fog in the valley there? You might think it’s moving away from our position, but it’s actually moving towards us!

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 16-35mm f/4 VR

Iphone | Hipstamatic

In a few minutes after taking the shot from the peak, we were again enveloped by fog. It was so thick that we couldn’t see anything, so back down the mountain we went.

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G

After we dropped Suki off, we were starving! Headed to our favorite coffee shop for pancakes: It’s Tops on Market street in San Francisco. The place has been around forever, and I always love sitting by the window, watching those Market street light rail cars whiz by, all while stuffing myself with the best hotcakes in the city.

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G

Iphone | Instagram

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G

Brought along two primes for the entire day after the hike: My favorite 24mm and my 50mm. Never found myself wishing I had anything else, though paired with a D700, it’s still a lot to carry.

After that we headed to the SF Moma, where I took almost no photos. Why? I was there to see the Henri Cartier Bresson exhibit. I was so in awe of his work that my camera just hung at my side the entire time. Every image was a masterpiece. The way he observes and then captures fragments of life  is unmatched by any artist I’ve ever seen. Truly inspirational.

Of course, throughout other areas of the museum, including the rooftop garden and the sound exhibit on the top floor, I felt inspired to grab some images of my other half:

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G

Here she is digging into an affogato made with Blue Bottle Coffee. MAN that was good. I want to keep coming back to the Moma just for the cafe:

iPhone | Hipstamatic

Someone recently asked me how I get my photos to look warm. Simple! Just shoot with your white balance set to “shade.” Example:

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G

Here’s a photo (above) I took by adjusting my white balance to match the white walls of the sound exhibit.  Changing my white balance to shade gave me a much, much warmer effect:

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G

In general, people tend to look better when photographed using warmer settings at the camera. Like any technique, however, it really depends.

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G

You probably noticed Bo Bear already. He tagged along with us as usual, and I caught him goofing around on one of the art displays. Hah!

iphone | Instagram

You know what’s funny, my favorite pictures from the day were actually taken with my iPhone. I only posted a couple of them here.  The rest are on instagram! Have an iPhone? Find me on instagram under the name: kaoni701

I really need to take days off more often!!!

Written by Jonathan

January 20, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Don’t Forget to Look

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Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G

For me, holidays off work are go-out-with-the-camera days, so no sleeping in this past Friday. Got up bright and early and headed out on a mission: to take the 51st of 52 images of Suki for this year’s project. We started in North Beach where I took the image above. I must have still been waking up, because I took the shot and wondered why my shutter speed was so incredibly high during the dawn hour. Ah…ISO6400. It’s usually a good idea to set your camera to its base line before every shoot.

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII

I had some concepts in mind that I tried in various areas of the city with Suki, and for the life of me I couldn’t make them work. Just one failed attempt after another. Started feeling like the guy on the left here. So I put the Suki project out of my mind for a while. Took a break. Grabbed some coffee. I decided to just start taking pictures of stuff and get inspired as I go. Note to self: get coffee BEFORE going out on a photo walk next time.

Normally when I’m out with the camera and the dog, I seem to keep the camera fixated on her. Guess a year of taking photos of her for the 52 weeks project will do that to you. For most of the day yesterday, I removed myself from that tendency and started to really look at what was around me. My goal for the day was to focus on patterns, texture, and color, and to look for these elements everywhere. It really requires that you slow down  and take time to really look at everything in your environment.

When you do, you start to notice some cool really stuff sitting there right under your nose, waiting to be photographed:

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G

Started out with the 24mm f/1.4, but quickly realized that I’d need more versatility for taking pictures of random subjects, so out came the 24-120 f/4:

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24-120mm f/4

There is something very eye catching about the natural contrasting with the man-made. In concert with lighting that reveals texture, you can make nice images of things you’d normally just trample on and not even notice.

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24-120mm f/4

While certainly not a dedicated macro lens, the 24-120 can get you pretty close to your subjects. The VR is great to have for hand-holding these closeups too.

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24-120mm f/4

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24-120mm f/4

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24-120mm f/4

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24-120mm f/4

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24-120mm f/4

This wide shot above captures some cool lines and really takes the whole scene in, but it’s good to keep looking, dive deeper into the scene, and pick out something to anchor the eye on. Every photo needs a subject:

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24-120mm f/4

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII

Photos of Suki sort of flowed much easier after my photo walk:

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24-120 f/4 VRII

Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G

Many of these images have been added to the “Random Moments” gallery on my website, so if you want to see them in super high resolution, head on over the

I think that pretty much sums up today’s blog post. Pretty random!


EXIF on these photos? Just mouse over the images.

Written by Jonathan

December 26, 2010 at 1:40 am

Now That’s True Vintage

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Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII

This is Desirae. She’s a friend, a fellow blogger, and an expert on all things vintage. Met her today out among the rolling hills of San Francisco to do a brief one-hour photo shoot. Seeing her step out of her front door immediately blasted me straight into the 1950’s. With perfect afternoon weather and a gorgeous model to work with, I was feeling pretty good about the shoot right from the start.

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII

Desirae’s outfit is remarkable, not only because of its 1950’s styling, but because everything she has on is truly vintage, as in made 60+ years ago. Even her stockings are true vintage. Seriously, she’s that good!

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII

We originally planned to head to some specific and well known places in the city, but since we only had an hour to work with, we decided to just explore her own neighborhood on foot and make images along the way. Since I JUST finished this shoot only hours ago, I’ll need some time to process the images, but here’s a brief sampling from the time we spent together. Enjoy!

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII

On a side note, I used my new 24-120 f/4 VR for most of the shoot and was so very impressed by its performance. The images from it have such great contrast and the range was perfect for both wide and tight portraiture.

As I mentioned, Desirae is an avid blogger with a truly interesting site called Ruby’s Rose. The blog is a fictitious diary of a girl living in the 1950s, and it strictly adheres to events that occurred during that decade in real time. It’s really fascinating, so check it out at

Also, see more images from the shoot on my gallery page at!

A San Francisco Sunset

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Nikon D700 + Nikkor 16-35mm f/4 VRII at 16mm f/8, 1/20 second ISO800

For some reason, really breathtaking sunsets are not very common here in San Francisco. The last two sunsets in a row here, however, have been stunning. I took the image above and below this evening with Suki at my side. The plan was to actually use this rare back drop in an image of Suki for week 44 of 52 for my project, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 16-35mm f/4 VRII at 35mm f/8, 1/20 second ISO800

My wife was on her way to meet me with my lighting equipment, but she got stuck in traffic. I watched in agony as the beautiful light became perfect for a sunset portrait, and then quickly faded away. The peak of the sunset’s beauty lasted only minutes. It would have been silly to just sit there and watch without taking the camera out, so Suki I and strolled out onto the sand, and I fired off a few frames as the sun disappeared behind the horizon.

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII at 55mm f/8, 1/20 second ISO800

This image is from last night, taken from the window of one of my bedrooms. I had a meeting to go to, so I couldn’t head to the beach that evening. I swore then that I’d get a shot of Suki out there the next day. Didn’t work out!

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VRII at 98mm f/5.6, 1/30 second ISO400

Here’s Suki looking out the same window. I put a chair there so she can keep an eye on the neighborhood, one of her favorite things to do.

Anyway, we’re going to try again tomorrow to get a nice sunset portrait of Suki for week 44. The weather is very erratic here in San Francisco, however, so there’s no guarantee I’ll have such a beautiful backdrop to work with. That’s the thing about photography. More often than not, getting the shot you want requires a great deal of persistence! It’s frustrating and fun all at the same time.

Written by Jonathan

November 4, 2010 at 7:31 pm