Jonathan Fleming's Blog

A Photography Blog

Posts Tagged ‘video

An Unexpected Shiba Meet-Up

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This past weekend after our week 30 photo shoot, we relaxed at a nearby park with Suki, the camera, and my favorite coffee ever.  I mentioned this in my previous post, but the above image is a good example of how you can make your subject appear larger than they are in real life.  I shot this photo from a position much lower than Suki’s, and with my lens racked out to it’s longest 300mm focal length, which increases her prominence in the frame.

That morning we actually ran into two other Shibas! One was a red one like Suki. The other, named Akahi, was black with some sesame mixed in:

They were perfect for each other! At one point I couldn’t help but whip out my phone and get a clip of them playing:

This is HD video from the iphone 4 (change the resolution to 720p above for best results). If you look closely you can see that Suki is actually on leash when she takes off after Akahi. Towards the end of the clip you can see that my wife loses her grip on the leash and Suki just bounds away, dragging the leash along the grass. So funny =)

Written by Jonathan

August 4, 2010 at 8:44 am

Suki and Me… [and video on the D300s!]

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Some people who only know Suki from her photos tend to think that she’s a larger dog. I’ll admit that I try to use angles and perspectives that make her appear larger than she is, but Shiba Inus are definitely small dogs. Not lap dog small, but not big either. I say they’re perfectly sized! The image above should give you a clear view of Suki’s relative size. Suki and I were strolling through the city when this reflective glass caught my attention. I actually like how the dirty glass distorted the photo and made it hazy and low-contrast. Looks sort of “filmy.”

See? Suki is pretty little. This image is sort of an optical illusion, however, as the parking meter is a few feet closer to the camera than she is, making it appear much larger than her. The whole reason we were taking a stroll through town with my camera was, of course, to catch an image of her for week 30 of my 52 week project. We used the art we found on this wall here for the final image. Check it out here!

And now for more randomness. Got together with some good friends last night. When the dancing started, I decided to skip the stills and give video a try again on my D300s:

I’m obviously not much a videographer, but for casual clips, it’s great having video in my DSLR for the simple fact that I can use any of my lenses. Notice the shallow depth of field I achieved using my 50mm f/1.4 wide open for the video, which made focus very difficult but added a lot of depth to the recording (just make sure you switch the video to 720p resolution). Now I wish I had brought my fisheye to the party!

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Images and Video: Nikon D300s + Nikkor AFS 50mm f/1.4G

Written by Jonathan

August 2, 2010 at 11:59 am

Jazz at Epicenter Cafe

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If you live in San Francisco and love Jazz, great coffee, good food, and a nice selection of beer and wine, you must check out Epicenter Cafe. It’s a great place to kick back with your laptop and browse the web, get some studying done, or just hang out with friends.

The interior has a very “South of Market” industrial look to it, with modern furniture and art, waxed concrete flooring as well as exposed concrete pillars, electrical conduits, plumbing and air ducts.  During the day, tons of light floods in through large, floor-to-ceiling windows.

The live music, however, is the most important element! Every Sunday evening, the cafe hosts a “Jazz Jam,” which is basically the Jazz version of an open mic.  If you can play/sing Jazz and read a lead sheet, you’re free to perform. There was a great group there yesterday evening:

Chris (on trumpet you see below) is a friend of mine. We met with a bunch of other friends to see him jam with the other instrumentalists.

My wife also brought a few charts along and performed two pieces. I decided to video record the performances instead of taking stills. Used my D300s fitted with the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC for the two clips. I must say, Vibration Control makes a huge difference in steadiness when recording video while hand-holding a DSLR. Check out the clips below!

The first clip is her second performance, where she sang “On Green Dolphin Street.” Video was recorded in 720p resolution. The second clip is the song “September in the Rain,” accidentally recorded in a lower resolution. Oh well!

Jazz jam sessions are rare in San Francisco, so my wife and I were really excited about this opportunity. The band was thrilled with her performance (as was I), and invited her back with specific requests as well. Good job, honey. Truly beautiful!

Street Photography in San Francisco

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I recently watched a video that involved Photoshop guru Scott Kelby spending a day with Jay Maisel, a highly regarded photographer who lives in New York City. They explored the streets of Manhattan all day, cameras in hand, and Jay shared his extensive knowledge and experience the whole way through.  I loved seeing such an experienced photographer talk about his methods and thought processes while out creating photos on the street.  Seeing the way he interacted with people in order to get natural photographs of complete strangers was also a real treat.

There were tons of great points on improving your photography that Jay expounded on during the photo walk, but a few of them really stood out for me.

For example, he said that one of the greatest ways to improve your photography is to practice it regularly, daily if possible. This involves committing yourself to carrying a camera with you at all times. He mentioned that if the camera is with you, you’re improving your skill even if you don’t use it. How? Your awareness of your camera causes your eyes to search for interesting subjects while you’re out on the street, which helps hone a a key skill for a photographer: his or her ability to observe, anticipate, and react to what happens in an environment.

Another point I appreciated is that photographers should be more concerned with “picture quality” instead of “pixel quality.” He encouraged the use of high ISOs out on the street, even in relatively good light. Why? It keeps your shutter speed high, and gives you the depth of field and bracketing flexibility needed for capturing good frames in a highly dynamic environment like the streets of New York. Basically, it helps you “get the shot.” Sure, lower ISOs give you technically cleaner images, or better “pixel quality,” but our aim as photographers should be, once again, the “picture quality.” After all, what’s the point of a cleaner image if it’s blurry or you couldn’t nail the exposure? Jay typically shoots at ISO1600 on his Nikon D3 when out on the street (yes, having a D3 helps).

His lens of choice? The bargain-priced Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR. Does it matter to him that it’s not the sharpest, fastest, highest performing glass in Nikon’s lineup? Nope. He chose this lens for the photo walk because of its smaller size, lighter weight, and wide focal range. A good example of choosing an appropriate tool for the job.

As they roamed the streets, Jay demonstrated how highly tuned and focused his photographic eye is. He was catching moments, shapes, colors, and compositions in the environment that Kelby wasn’t even aware of.  It really inspired me to get out and try exploring my own neck of the woods and looking for interesting things to photograph with these new points in mind.

So, on a day off last week and after having lunch with the wife out in the city,  I started walking the neighborhood with my camera. I brought along a single lens (the 70-300), and slowly explored the neighborhood. Check out the gallery above for a sampling of what I came back with that day. Not really the best images I’ve ever taken (and WordPress degrades the quality on these unfortunately), but I had such a fulfilling time out there that I’m anxious to head out again for another photo walk and to continue developing my skills. I just wish I had more time!

In other news, I just found out that Adobe Lightroom 3 is officially out of Beta and available for download! It’s got great new features and runs much faster than before. If you’re a Lightroom user, you must check it out!