Jonathan Fleming's Blog

A Photography Blog

Posts Tagged ‘north beach

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!

Cocktail Party + Lightroom 3 Beta Noise Reduction

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Nikon D300s + SB-900 + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 17mm f/4 ISO1600 1/15 Second

This past Saturday evening, we were invited to a friend’s house in North Beach for some cocktails. We met lots of new people and had a great time. The hosts asked Bridget to sing a couple jazz tunes with Chris on the trumpet, and set up a spot on the roof for the performance. Ambient light was provided by…nothing…except for some hanging, incandescent, decorative lighting. Photographic yikes!!! I had one SB-900 to work with, so I set up my camera in manual, cranked up the ISO, set the flash to fire at rear curtain, and draaaaagged the shutter to get as much ambiance as possible, trying to make sure the little event looked like it happened on some sort of rooftop and not in outer space. As I uploaded these images to Lightroom 3 Beta, I was amazed at how well the new noise reduction tool worked on these photos. More on that in a bit.

Bridget and Chris

Nikon D300s + SB-900 + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 26mm f/3.5 ISO1600 1/15 Second


Nikon D300s + SB-900 + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 28mm f/2.8 ISO1600 1/15 Second

Bridget and Chris (above) entertaining the many guests (below) crowding the small San Francisco apartment. Those small hanging lamps you see on the wall there were the only lights helping me expose the scene. Gaaah…

And then….there was Alex:


Nikon D300s + SB-900 + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 50mm f/4 ISO1600 1/15 Second

Alex Sings

Nikon D300s + SB-900 + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 38mm f/3.5 ISO1600 1/15 Second

Alex sang something interesting. Yes, very interesting. And Chris did his best to keep up with him on the trumpet. Here was their audience:

The Crowd

Nikon D300s + SB-900 + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 17mm f/2.5 ISO1600 1/15 Second

We headed back downstairs after the performance and enjoyed some drinks. Bridget and I brought a bottle of Absinthe, a spirit that was banned in the US for nearly 100 years. It’s some potent stuff for sure, and cannot be enjoyed without a good amount of dilution in water. Bridget made me a great mix by pouring ice water through sugar cubes on top of a specially made spoon into an ounce of Absinthe. The green alcohol turns a milky white as you pour the water in, which I believe is the result of releasing the herbs that the spirit is distilled in.


Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 31mm f/4 ISO1100 1/15 Second


Adobe Lightroom 3 Beta: Noise Reduction

For a few days now, I’ve been using Lightroom 3 Beta to handle my processing needs, and so far I’m really impressed by the new features they’ve added. One of the highlight features for me is the new and improved noise reduction tool in the develope module. The noise reduction tools available in Lightroom 2 are just sorta-kinda ok. It looks like Adobe really worked at improving noise reduction this time around. As of now, luminance reduction is not available in Lightroom 3 Beta, so I’ve only had a chance to work with the improved color noise reduction slider. But boy does it work! Check out a couple of 1:2 crops from the first image I posted above that demonstrate the new color noise reduction’s effectiveness in Lightroom 3 Beta:

Comparison Noise Reduction

Left: LR3 Beta Noise Reduction Applied / Right: No Noise Reduction Applied

You can see a drastic difference in color noise between the two crops above (cropped from the upper left part of the frame from the top image in this post). The color noise reduction algorithm employed by Lighroom 3 Beta is extremely effective. In the image on the left, color noise was virtually gone at a mere 19% reduction setting.

That’s all for now!

For the Crowd

Ah, good times…..

Written by Jonathan

November 16, 2009 at 7:10 am

PTLens: Painless Lens Correction

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Nikon D300s + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 at 11mm f/18 ISO200, 6.0 Seconds, Corrected in PTLens


Nikon D300s + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 at 11mm f/18 ISO200, 6.0 Seconds, Original without Correction

I’m not really a stickler when it comes to distortion in my images, but a flickr buddy of mine recommended PTLens to me a couple weeks go, and after giving it a try tonight, I decided to purchase it. For a mere $25, you get a program that will correct lens pincushion/barrel distortion, vignetting, chromatic aberration, and perspective. You can technically achieve the same results in Photoshop, but what makes PTLens so special is how incredibly easy it is to correct an image. The first image above (top) is the corrected file from PTLens, and the second image is the original file. Notice the pretty apparent barrel distortion in the second image (vertical lines aren’t vertical), along with the perspective issues (the tops of the buildings seem to be leaning away from the camera), and how well these problems were fixed in the image above.


PTLens in action

Here’s what the software looks like in action. PTLens has profiles set up for dozens of cameras and lenses (even for my Panasonic LX3!). It automatically pulls the camera and lens information from the image EXIF data, and based upon the lens’ unique distortion characteristics, applies the right amount of correction to barrel or pincushion distortion. I then manually dialed in a little vertical perspective correction, and that’s it! In seconds, I had corrected the image to my liking. I’m really excited about this new software, and plan to use it a whole lot for my photos, especially the ones that include architecture.

Metric Concert, San Francisco

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Panasonic DMC-LX3

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

I’m a big fan of the group Metric, a really cool Canadian indie rock group. Last night, my wife scored some last-minute tickets to go to a secret show in San Francisco where they played some of my favorite songs from their latest albums. The lead singer Emily Haines is really cute, and put on a very electrifying and energetic performance.Unfortunately, while I had my Lumix LX3 with me, I had left my memory card in the car, and I only figured it out when I started taking pictures as the show started! Fortunately, the LX3 has a small amount of built in memory that let me take about 10 pictures, but it meant I had to keep deleting photos during the performance as I continued shooting! The lighting was pretty dim on the stage (they played at the famous Bimbo’s in North Beach), making sharp shots difficult, even at the camera’s maximum f/2.0 aperture.

I kinda like the shot above, despite the awkward crop. I think it really gives a sense of the energy that was on stage during the performance.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

Here’s a blurry, grainy image that I really love for some reason. I think it’s the lighting and the sense of movement in her hair. I would have loved to be in the front row, but I got to the venue a little later than I wanted to. Oh well!

Metric 3

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

Being behind other people meant having to lift the camera into the air to get a straight shot of the stage….not the most steady way to hold  a camera! After shooting for about 10 minutes, I decided I didn’t want to keep deleting photos to make room for more. I grabbed a drink, and enjoyed the rest of the performance without the camera.

Written by Jonathan

November 8, 2009 at 6:48 am

A night with the D300s

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Nikon D300s + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 at 11mm f/18, ISO200, 6.0 Seconds

Nikon D300s + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 at 11mm f/18, ISO200, 6.0 Seconds

Mounted the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 on my new D300s this evening and headed out for some test shots. Ended up in North Beach here in San Francisco for some great evening shooting under a beautiful sky, and the weather was perfect. I like the way the D300s handles much more than the D90 it replaced. Physical controls are abundant, and I found that I could change various settings very quickly without having to dig through menus as much as I had to with the D90, which is especially helpful when shooting in very low light. I do miss using the wireless remote trigger on the D90 though, which doesn’t work with the D300. I instead had to use a cable remote release (I really like having a mirror up mode!).

Unfortunately the latest version of Adobe Camera Raw is not yet available with support for the D300s. As a work around, I had to download the latest DNG converter release candidate from Adobe Labs, which does support D300s NEF files, and convert the camera’s raw images to DNG before importing to Lightroom 2. It’s a little more effort, but I’m sure the new Camera Raw won’t be too far off.

Written by Jonathan

September 12, 2009 at 7:05 am