Jonathan Fleming's Blog

A Photography Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Sb-900

Photo shoot: Jasmine Libatique

with 12 comments

Got a call yesterday from Jasmine Libatique, a local singer/songwriter here in San Francisco, requesting a photo shoot for her upcoming album entitled Dreaming Away. Her album is still in the recording stage of development, but she wanted to start compiling some concepts for her album artwork.

San Francisco’s Mission District is filled with cool urban art, and Jasmine selected one of the Mission’s many murals to incorporate into the shoot. This will be the first of likely several different concepts we will attempt before she makes a final selection of images to include in her album.

It was a very last-minute shoot! Had to rush home after work and quickly grab whatever gear I could get my hands on before heading out to the Mission District before the sun went down. My SB-800 unit failed on me due to bad batteries during the shoot. I was using it as a commander so I could get my command pulses firing behind or above me to my remote SB-900. Without it, I had to bounce the command signal from my camera’s pop-up off my free hand towards the remote unit. It actually worked! It also made me think a little more about how nice it would be to have radio triggers.  Anyway, despite the rushed nature of the job, we had a great time!

Want to get a preview of Jasmine’s music? Head on over to her Fanpage, where you can listen to all the songs on her upcoming album. Become a fan!

Also, check out more images from this shoot on my website!

Soft, Wrapping Light

with 8 comments

Suki likes to hang out in the same room where I keep all my photographic equipment, so often times I’ll just go in the room, set up, and start photographing her. She’s there anyway, right? Last week, I decided to get a nice shot of her face, especially since I didn’t have a chance to go outdoors and make an image of her for week 11 of my 52 week project. There aren’t any large windows in the room and it was late afternoon, so it was artificial light or no shot. Suki is just about as soft to the touch as she looks, so I wanted to convey that softness in the photo.

Light from a bare strobe is not soft. It’s hard and harsh. So to make it as soft as possible, you need to diffuse it…a LOT. This is how I did it:

What you see here are two SB units (SB-800 and SB-900), firing up into an all-in-one umbrella with its reflective shroud in place. The light from the two units will hit the umbrella and come back down towards Suki, but not before it hits another layer of diffusion: a skylite diffusion panel. Using two units increases my light volume and keeps my recycle times shorter than using just one, since all this diffusion makes the SB units work harder. Now I have a bigger light source relative to my subject, and a softer quality of light (learned all this from Joe McNally!).

Poor Suki. Relaxing in a room, and all of a sudden these huge pops of light start going off above her head. This was her initial reaction to the big diffusion panel:

The sounds of the camera, the pop of light, the whine of the flashes as they recharge, the big beeps they make to indicate they’re ready to go, someone’s voice saying “look at me! look at me! stay! stay!” …. it’s a lot for a dog to hear and see. But Suki’s pretty used to it now.  In fact, she gets bored and sleepy after a while:

But hey, the final week 11 shot was worth the trouble, right Suki?!

Camera: Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC and Tokina 50-135mm f/2.8

ASL Handshapes

with 12 comments

I have some friends who are teaching an American Sign Language class and needed a photographer this past weekend. In ASL, signs are constructed using a limited set of specific hand shapes. They needed each hand shape to be photographed for use in the class’s course materials, including the class website and various keynote presentations.

Photos needed to be done on-site, so I had lug my equipment over. My goal for the lighting was to make the hands look as dimensional as possible. I didn’t want the the lighting to be too flat, and I wanted it to be easy to determine what shape the hand is making in every shot. I have one SB-800 hitting the background, one SB-900 unit firing from above, and a light-stand below holding a silver reflector. The image above is just a screen capture from the Library module in Lightroom 3 Beta.

Nikon D300s + Tokina 50-135 f/2.8

UPDATE:

I’ve received a few requests to make prints of this hand shape chart available for ASL instructors. If you’re interested in purchasing a print or poster of this chart, head over to asl.jonathanflemingphotography.com.

Written by Jonathan

March 22, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Expand or Compress?

with 8 comments

I thought that after picking up my Tokina 50-135mm f/2.8, my Nikkor 70-300mm VR lens would no longer be a relevant tool in my camera bag. But after having both for some time now, I have to say, I’m glad I didn’t get rid of the Nikkor. Why?

While the Tokina allows faster shutter speeds in lower light due to its constant f/2.8 aperture, the sweet thing about the Nikkor is its much longer focal range. When racked out on my D300s, I get a a full frame equivalent of a 450mm focal length in a compact, lightweight package with the Nikkor 70-300. The reason why this is important to me is that it allows me to really compress the foreground and background elements of a scene using those long focal lengths.

This kind of compression can give your photos real power and subject isolation, and can also help you exclude undesirable surrounding elements from the image you’re trying to create. The images here from Suki’s last shoot this weekend illustrate this point. I received many inquiries after I posted my week 10 photo on flickr (chosen from this series) about where I took the photo. Some people said it looked like Suki was on mars (hah!), and others thought that the background was the sky. Since I shot the photo at 240mm, Suki was compressed so close to the golden background that it was hard for many to tell exactly where she was (the background was all water, as you can see here). This was the exact effect I wanted to create, and I couldn’t have done it without using such a long focal length.

Conversely, using a super wide angle lens expands the foreground and background elements, and gives an exaggerated sense of space around your subject, as can be seen in this photo of Suki, taken with my Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8.

Above: This shot was taken at a shorter 70mm. You can see much less compression as a result.

One trick I learned from studying Moose Peterson’s (a very well-known landscape and wildlife photographer) work is to try to avoid composing with your zoom ring. In other words, use your feet to get into position and compose your shot, then select a focal length based on how much you want to expand or compress the elements in the frame. Good advice!

Nikon D300s + AFS Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR, varying focal lengths

Nomar

with 7 comments


This weekend I did a little photo session at a friend’s house. They have a little 14 month old boy named Nomar. He’s adorable, has a great personality, and we had a lot of fun. Bringing Nomar’s favorite toy, a little Luigi, made him a very cheerful little guy, and really helped during the shoot.

He and his mom photograph really well! For the more “formal” family shots on the couch, I used a 3′ by 3′  Lastolite skylite panel  on a C-stand, with two speedlights firing through it. A reflector on the floor gave some fill from below.

Nomar was even goofier when with his Dad, mostly because mommy was behind me making him laugh. He seemed to be really fascinated by my camera too.

Of course, his Dad knew how to make sure he had a blast during the session too. I used the skylite panel and a tri-grip diffuser over the window to soften the harsh light for the natural light photos.

I thought it was pretty cool that father and son had matching outfits. Very cool!

Nomar’s other favorite toy besides a plush Luigi? His mother’s cell phone!

Don’t break it now!

In all, I have about 80-90 photos ready for the family, which I’m still processing. These are a few “previews” from the shoot. So much work to do!

_____________________________

Camera Specs: Nikon D300s + Tokina 11-16 f/2.8, Tokina 50-135 f/2.8, Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 VC, Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G

Suki’s Scarf: The outtakes

with 5 comments


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

Super Suki

with 10 comments

Nikon D300s + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 at 11mm f/4 ISO640 1/25 second

The sun is still setting too early this time of year, so any portraits involving the sun after I get off work require that I hustle to beat the rapidly falling light. I barely made it to the beach in time for a series of photos of Suki at the beach. I love the way the clouds sweep in the direction Suki is looking. It’s really hard to take a bad photo of this dog!

Needless to say, I got a lot of sand on me… sand that inevitably ended up on my camera, which is why I was really grateful that my camera has environmental sealing. Whew!

From the time we arrived on the scene to the time we ran out of light was no longer than about 10 minutes, which was only enough time to get my camera out of my bag, figure out my exposure, and fire off a handful of frames. This is one that I particularly liked for its amazing backdrop. The other was posted on my flickr photostream for the 7th week of my 52 week project involving Suki.

Check out the other shot here!

__