Jonathan Fleming's Blog

A Photography Blog

Posts Tagged ‘portraiture

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!

Paisley’s Photo Shoot

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Spent this past Sunday afternoon with this adorable little girl and her family. Can someone be any more photogenic than this? My strategy for this shoot was: no strategy. Just follow little Paisley around and see what happens. The result was an amazing little adventure all around the house, climbing different surfaces, discovering her favorite toys, and capturing the cutest little expressions.

Paisley is just gushing with life, joy, intelligence, energy, and curiosity. She has the most wonderful spirit I have ever seen in a child. The first shot I took of her that day I immediately showed to her. She understood right away what the camera was all about, and every so often during our time together, she’d stop, walk towards me, and make me turn my camera around to show her the result. It’s like she was my model and my art director =)

Kept the gear simple, using one lens the entire time: The new Nikkor AFS 50mm f/1.4G that my wife just bought me this past week. Great timing, as it’s the perfect lens for the job. If you’re a crop sensor shooter that likes taking portraits, especially in available light, the 50mm is a must-have. Brought in a camera-mounted flash for fill at times, and that was it!

Please See more images of the shoot on my website here: Paisley’s Photo Shoot


Nikon D300s + Nikkor AFS 50mm f/1.4G

Written by Jonathan

July 26, 2010 at 10:47 am

More Glamour Shots

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Nikon D300s + Nikkor 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 VR at 155mm f/11 ISO100 1/125 Second

Here are two more images from the photo shoot I blogged about yesterday. Bridget’s look is very similar in all three in the series, but I like the crop and posing differences between all three. In these two images, I introduced a small amount of skin softening using a masked 25 pixel gaussian blur layer in CS4. I don’t think her already soft skin needed this treatment, but I thought I’d give it a try. The result sort of reminds me of a makeup add in a Japanese fashion magazine.

I had a blast with this little portrait project! Check out more shots here.

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

My Favorite Subject

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Nikon D90 Nikkor 50mm 1.4D at f/1.8

Nikon D90 Nikkor 50mm 1.4D at f/1.8

Nikon D90, Nikkor 50mm 1.4D @ f/1.8

Nikon D90, Nikkor 50mm 1.4D @ f/1.8

My beautiful wife is easily my favorite photographic subject.

Written by Jonathan

August 5, 2009 at 5:06 am