Jonathan Fleming's Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘spring

Exploring Kyoto

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Something I found fascinating during my last stay in Japan was exploring little side streets and alleys wherever we happened to be. Tucked away in bustling neighborhoods and often times barely wide enough for single-file foot traffic, these paths offer peaceful exploration away from the busier main streets, and are full of interesting sights.

I suppose that after being completely overwhelmed by the extremely crowded streets of Tokyo, we wanted to try our best to find ways to explore Kyoto as “alone” as possible. Which is why we got up really early in the morning on the days we went touring the city. Exploring the Gion area as well as various parks, temples, and shrines in Kyoto starting at 7:00am proved to be a great idea. We seemed to have the city all to ourselves at such an early hour, which not only made sightseeing more enjoyable, but also made photographing the city much easier.

Head out too late, especially during Sakura season, and you’ll run into way too many people, which definitely takes the fun out of touring for me. I was fortunate to head out early enough, for instance, to the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine in Kyoto one morning. When we arrived, virtually no one was there, giving me the freedom to take many shots without anyone walking into the frame. By the time we left the shrine, so many tourists had showed up that getting a shot without gaijin standing in the way would have been next to impossible.

Moral of the story? Don’t sleep in when you travel!

Camera Specs:

Top Image: Nikon D300s + Tokina 50-150mm f/2.8 at 85mm f/2.8 ISO1250 1/200 Second
Second Image: Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 17mm f/4 ISO200 1/15 Second
Third Image: Nikon D300s + Tokina 50-150mm at 50mm f/3.5 ISO400 1/80 Second
Fourth Image: Nikon D300s + Tokina 50-150mm at 75mm f/7.1 ISO200 1/200 Second
Fifth Image: Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 45mm f/5.6 ISO360 1/8 Second (VC works!)

My First Model Shoot

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Nikon D300s + Nikkor AFS 60mm f/2.8 Micro at f5.6, ISO200 1/60 Second, CLS triggered SB-800

Nikon D300s + Nikkor AFS 60mm f/2.8 Micro at f5.6, ISO200 1/60 Second, CLS triggered SB-800

Man, I scored a gig with an awesome and beautiful model yesterday by the name of Barbie. Have you heard of her? Ok, what really happened was that the weather was terrible for the city and landscape photography I planned for last night. But the photography bug bites in all weather conditions, so I had to shoot something!

The wife recently got into collecting vintage Barbies, and in fact, I bought her a vintage reproduction of the wedding Barbie and Ken from 1959 recently. Working with Barbie and Ken was actually a quite interesting experiment in portrait lighting. Due to their small size, I had to use my 60mm 2.8 Micro lens to get the portraits looking more human and less toy-like.

Nikon D300s + Nikkor AFS 60mm f/2.8 micro at f/8, ISO200 1/60 Second

Nikon D300s + Nikkor AFS 60mm f/2.8 micro at f/8, ISO200 1/60 Second

Adding directional light to the shot was the fun part. I used a single SB-800, diffused with a small light modifier and triggered wirelessly via the pop off flash on the D300s. A small, rather harsh light source for a real human being, but a huge and flattering source of light for a Barbie.

Since Barbie doesn’t move or get tired of standing completely still in the same exact pose for as long as I see fit, I really got to play with the size and direction of the light source, and it turned out being a ton of fun for me. Plus, look at her! Isn’t she absolutely incredibly gorgeous? The camera loves her!

At the end of this month, I’ll actually be shooting a real wedding. I’ll being doing it for free as a gift to the groom, a close friend of the family. Well, free for him anyway. Getting a few things to get me ready to take good photographs at the event will actually cost ME money, but hey, what I lose in money I’ll gain in experience! My father was a professional wedding photographer for nearly two decades back in the film days, but for some reason, photographing weddings hasn’t ever really been a desire of mine.

Agreeing to photograph this upcoming wedding, however, has sort of forced me into an interest in wedding photography, and now I’m actually really excited about it (I freaked out when I was first asked last week). Part of the excitement, I think, comes from an increase of confidence that has come from a tireless study of wedding photography technique over the last week. Yes, I’m cramming, because even though this will be a freebie for the bride and groom, I want to do the best job I can possibly do, for ME.

So for the next three weeks, I’ll be reading reading reading and shooting shooting shooting. My goal for this wedding will be to work creatively with directional light to make some pretty photos of the new couple.

Who knows? If it goes well, perhaps my next gig will be paid 😉

Click below for a couple more shots of my little “model shoot”

Written by Jonathan

October 12, 2009 at 5:30 am