Apr 29, 2011

The Right Decision

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 116mm, f/4.5, 1/250s, ISO 500.
Rick is a new Realtor, a wildland firefighter, and fan of Theodore Roosevelt (can you tell?). I had the pleasure of working with him for a few minutes this morning creating some images for him as he launches his business. Pictures can help show who you are, and Rick wanted something different from many of the other Realtor pictures--something that "doesn't look like the seventh grade photo lineup." I hope I met his expectations.

Right after we finished shooting and were about to begin reviewing which pictures he wanted to keep, he told me in conversation that Roosevelt said,

    "The best decision is the right decision, and the worst decision is making no decision at all"

Ten seconds later I was panicing in my heart because the pictures we just took wouldn't show up on my computer, and when I put the card back into the camera, they weren't there, either! I had just an instant to  decide what to do: I could try using the software for recovering files that came with my SanDisk cards, which I had never used before, or I could reshoot the pictures.

I decided to explain this little problem and said the best thing would be to reshoot a few frames--the software would be a gamble, but I'd still try it later on my own time. He agreed, and we went back into the Studio for a few more minutes. Actually, I could have faked another faulty card and done another shoot--talking with Rick is so enjoyable that the time passed too quickly; I hope to have him around again and pick his brain for more interesting experiences.

So, we reshot and the images turned quite as well as the first session, if not better! I think that was the right decision.

Now I have to figure out this software thing and see if I can get the other pictures back. I always tell my students to format their cards every time they put the card into the camera to prevent just such an occurrence; this was one of the only times I have not done just that and I suffered the consequences--which in this case was another half hour with a very interesting fellow...

Wish me luck as I delve into SanDisk!

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 180mm, f/4.5, 1/320s, ISO 500.

Apr 28, 2011

iPhone Flower Friday

iPhone 4, 3.85mm lens, f/2.8, 1/500s, ISO 80. Color was removed, then hand tinted.

Crossing the Bar

T. is a big brother, and quite a character. He's fun, and kind, and I really enjoyed working with him. He reminded me of this poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and I think he's living right along with what Tennyson had in mind:

  Sunset and evening star,
      And one clear call for me!
  And may there be no moaning of the bar,
      When I put out to sea.

  But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
      Too full for sound and foam,
  When that which drew from out the boundless deep
      Turns again home!

  Twilight and evening bell,
      And after that the dark!
  And may there be no sadness of farewell,
      When I embark;

  For though from out our bourn of Time and Place
      The flood may bear me far,
  I hope to see my Pilot face to face
      When I have crost the bar.

This is E.; he's trying to keep up, and I think will make it with a little help from T.
Here are a few more form this fun filled shoot. Spring is such a nice time to be out making pictures. I hope you'll give me a call so we can schedule a time for your kiddos...

Maybe we had a little too much fun...

Apr 24, 2011

One More Heron

Lightning doesn't strike twice, but I'm pretty sure I could wait it out. I think I might like to try my hand at bird photography a little more. At least, the big birds. I'm not too interested in the little guys--they're too flighty.

Nikon D7000, 300mm f/4 lens,  f/6.3, 1/640s, ISO 500.
Like I mentioned the other day, this is one of many that were roosting in the top of a small copse of spruce trees. We were driving down the road on the edge of Nehalem Bay in Oregon when I noticed that one had landed in a tree. My car handles better than expected on soft gravelly shoulders, and in no time I was faced with my first dilemma in making images: which lens should I use? 

Naturally, I wanted a long lens, lots of magnification, big number followed by mm. I had two choices: a 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens or a 300mm f/4 lens. The f/4 is an older generation lens, but is pretty incredible in many situations--as most prime lenses are--but it's long and kinda heavy which means it gets wobbly sticking off the end of the camera. The 28-300mm if just about the same length, and only slightly lighter, but it's hot off the production line, and the new iteration of vibration reduction Nikon has created is pretty darn good at stopping that wiggle by countering the operators' movements with micro motors gyro-ing around inside it. That means that even though I'm giddy as a school girl at the chance to shoot some huge birds in an interesting location, the pictures are much more likely to come out sharp.

So, you're thinking, "Duh, take the new lens!" But, there's one more consideration: sharpness. I'm not talking about focus, but rather how much detail there is in the stuff that's in focus. The rule of thumb is that most lenses produce their sharpest images when the aperture is closed down from wide open about two full stops (this is called stopping the lens down). That means that the 28-300mm, which has a maximum aperture of f/5.6 at 300mm, is sharpest at f/11, whereas the 300mm f/4 is sharpest at f/8; and what that means is that there is twice as much light available at f/8 than there is at f/11 (it's an area of a circle equation with an exponent...) and on a cloudy day that leads to the next consideration.

Big birds make fast movements when lifting off and landing and in order to freeze those movements, a fast shutter speed is required, and that depends on the amount of light coming into the lens. The fast shutter speed not only freezes the bird's movement, but it also freezes your movement as you balance this howitzer off the front of your face. The VR can compensate for your movement and help get a sharp picture of something holding still, which mean I can hand hold a slower shutter speed than I could with the antique 300mm. However, when the subject is moving, VR just doesn't cut it: you gotta have raw shutter speed. From the specs above you can see that I shot this one at 1/640 of a second at f/6.3. See, I know that the 300mm is sharper at all apertures than the fancy new zoom, so I wasn't scared to open up the aperture a little. But let's say I used the zoom at f/11 for a sharp picture: my shutter speed would only have been 1/125 of a second! When I'm dancing that slow, my wife is the only bird in my sights. There's no way to freeze action at that speed.

So, all this ran through my mind as I changed lenses and jumped out of the car, dodged a logging truck, and hopped the guard rail to make a few frames. I should have taken my thoughts a step further, however, and considered more carefully my camera choice. I grabbed the D7000 with a smaller sensor because it captures an apparently larger image of the subject at a given distance than my D700. However, the D7000 is a little grainy, and the herons were far enough away that I had to crop considerably to make this picture fill the frame so the detail isn't what it could be if I could have gotten closer with the better body. Haste makes waste, as they say.

Of course, if I actually took my wife slow dancing I may be able to convince her of the need for a 600mm f/4 VR lens, thus combing all the best features of both lenses and the best body! 

Anybody know any dance halls?

The picture above was shot as a color jpeg, allowing me a faster rate of firing on the camera. I then processed the picture as a black and white image. While I was considering my next move to finish this image off, I recalled my high school photography classes when I spent one rainy week hand tinting a mediocre black and white print of a mountain stream with some colored pencils. The result was far better than the original image had been. So, I thought I'd give it a shot here, and I rather like the effect.

Apr 23, 2011

Catching Up

Wow, what a great season for making pictures! The weather is warming and I think the tree outside my window is finally about to bud. And these little guys are smiling big--even they can tell Spring is in the air.

Here're just a few quick picks--lots of portraits in queue coming up soon...

Apr 22, 2011

Apr 20, 2011

St. John's

Megan took us to this bridge while we were visiting with her in Oregon a couple of weeks ago, and I could just spend all day there, I think; or, at least the early part of the day and the late part--when the light is good, you know? Same place I made the Fairlane image. This one may be my favorite picture from that trip.

Been doing lots of comercial portraiture lately, but I've also got loads of civilian portraits in the works, and they'll be showing up here, soon.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 98mm, f/16, 1/15s-1.6sec, ISO 100.

Apr 16, 2011

iPhone Flower Friday (on Saturday)

What a great thing! A camera in your pocket all the time, ready whenever there is something worthwhile to record. I've been making a concerted effort to use my phone camera more frequently, and walking to work affords lots of opportunities to make an image in good morning light. I'll share more of these as the season progresses.

iPhone 4 @ 3.85mm, f/2.8, 1/120s, ISO 100.

Apr 13, 2011

Great Blue Herons Hanging High in a Tree

Did you know that Great Blue Herons land in trees? Yeah, me neither. And not, like, big dead trees with big branches: these guys were all landing in the very top of some wobbly spruces! I counted fifteen of them together, and there were probably more in the branches, continuously coming and going. Very enlightening.

Nikon D7000, 300mm f/4 lens, f/8, 1/640s, ISO 800.

Apr 11, 2011

Sneak Peek

Just a quick pick from a fun photo shoot tonight. Nothing like throwing Nephews around between pictures...

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens, f/5.6, 1/125s, ISO 500.

Apr 10, 2011

From the Beach at Sunrise

Nikon D700, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens @ 300mm, f/11, 1/800s, ISO 800.
We didn't have a lot of sun during our Oregon Coast trip last week, but it did poke through occasionally. I made this image just after sunrise, from the beach at Nehalem State Park. 

Apr 9, 2011

Brand New (Newborn Photography)

Nikon D700, 55mm f/3.5 Micro lens, f/4.0, 1/50s, ISO 800.
K. was born just a few hours before I made these images with her and her parents. She was red. Not, like kinda pink, or blushing in spots--she was marinara red all over. Really pretty amazing to a guy who hasn't had kids of his own, yet. She was so soft and small.

This next image is a favorite from our few minutes in the hospital because of the caring gesture evident in Dad's working man hands.

Nikon D700, 55mm f/3.5 Micro lens, f/4.0, 1/50s, ISO 800.
I enjoyed this shoot immensely. Seeing the new love for this little girl was great, but for me the best part is recording her first day on Earth, her tininess, and her family's enjoyment of her. This job rocks.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 110mm, f/4.0, 1/250s, ISO 800.
Nikon D700, 55mm f/3.5 Micro lens, f/4,  1/50s, ISO 800.

Apr 7, 2011

Passing By Woods on a Rainy Day

Who's woods these are, I wish I knew
How far I drove he has no clue
To use my box amidst the path
Picturing logs swallowed in dew

The wood's a lovely photograph
Flowers and trees and winding path
All part of His choreograph
All part of His choreograph

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 70mm, f/22, 1.6s, 2.5s, 4s, ISO 400.

Flower Friday

Found this little one on the trail by the seaside in Ecola State Park on the Oregon Coast this week. The pink blossoms in the sea of green was quite stunning.

Nikon D700, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens @ 300mm, f/8.0, 1/80s, ISO 400.

Apr 4, 2011

Ford Fairlane

We found this gem under St. John's Bridge just outside of Portland this afternoon. I had a good time making this picture, though I had to set it up twice.

The first time I got it all arranged using the Pentax 645 I brought along, with a 47mm lens. It was looking good through that glass, and I was excited for the artillery like clack of the mirror and shutter as I rolled over the shutter button...and nothing happened. Duh, forgot to wind it. Wiiiiiiiiiiiind. Rolled the button...nothin'! As I wound it again I noticed that the shutter count window was no longer advancing and had maxed out at 20 exposures. Rats! Out of film.

What should I expect, though? This roll lasted nearly a year; Gary Bird and I started last Spring in St. George. Seems fitting that St. John's put it to rest.

Now to develop it...

Anyhow, set it up again on my D700, which is a full frame sensor camera body. Still, it's nothing compared to the 220 film I was shooting in that big old Pentax. There's just something about the view through those lenses that is intriguing. And big.

Nikon D700, 14-24mm f/2.8 lens @ 14mm, f/11, 9 exposures, 1/100s to 0.4s, ISO 200.

Apr 3, 2011

First Impression: Columbia River Gorge

As you drive west on I-84 through the Columbia River Gorge, you are struck first by the volume of water coursing down the Columbia River. It's immense. Coming from Logan, you feel like "river" has been misapplied to the waters of Cache Valley--it can't possibly mean the same thing as the word describing this artery that surely fils the ocean each day.

And the River is just the beginning of the water in the Gorge. The volcanic cliffs surrounding the river are covered in wet foliage, like a wet blanket draped on the hillsides, it's contours and saturation enveloping the topography. Plus, the hills feed the river like the river feeds the ocean. There are cascades pouring off the cliffs everywhere you look, their mist feeding the flora.

This section was found on the trail to Ponytail Falls. There is so much to photograph, I can only hope for two things: skill to capture in the camera the beauty my eyes see...and enough dry cloths to keep the lens clear.

Nikon D700, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens @ 44mm, f/8.0, 1/15s, ISO 800.