Archive for the 'photographs' Category

2011 in Photography

I’ve been dreading writing the photography roundup post this year, because I haven’t taken a lot of photographs. I’ve only a few months worth of photographs on Flickr, which makes a month by month roundup pretty tough to do.   We’ve had an enormous amount of stuff going on schedule wise this year, and between all of that activity, and me getting fussier about my pictures, 2011 saw a precipitous decline in the average number of pictures that I made during a given month.

I’m still doing some dance performance work,

OPG Nutcracker 2011

OPG Nutcracker 2011

OPG Nutcracker 2011

OPG Nutcracker 2011

Bainbridge Ballet Recital 2011

Bainbridge Ballet Recital 2011

Bainbridge Ballet Recital 2011

Bainbridge Ballet Recital 2011

and on the right occasions, I am going to interesting places that yield interesting pictures

SXSW Interactive 2011

SXSW Interactive 2011

_SXSW Interactive 2011

The highlight of the year for me photographically was a project that I did with one of the seniors at my daughters’ dance studio

Liza

Liza

Liza

Liza

Liza

Liza

Liza

I think that the other notable thing for me and photography in 2011 is a move away from Flickr and towards Google+, Facebook, and 500px. This is definitely a bittersweet thing for me. Flickr is pretty much responsible for getting me back into photography and putting me on a good track of growth. At the same time, I see Flickr weakening in various ways. I do a limited amount of portrait/dance shooting in my local area. For this kind of work, Facebook is pretty much the place where people might see my work. When Google+ burst onto the scene earlier this year, it was clear that it was really pretty decent for photography, and a lot of professional and advanced amateur photographers have taken to the service. In particular, Google+’s hangouts feature is great for photography growth. There are amazing photographs and photographers on Flickr, but if you look at 500px, the level of photography being displayed there is pretty amazing. I’m going to keep using Flickr, I think, but I’m going to be shifting more of my energy to Google+ and 500px in 2012.

One of the big happenings in 2011 was that we did a remodel of the empty bonus room that’s over our garage. One of the use cases for the design of that remodel was as a photo studio. Due to time, I haven’t really been able to get up there much, but I hope to spend some time working there come the new year, so perhaps next year’s roundup won’t be so lean.

2008 in Photography

January

In January, Chase Jarvis, hosted the Seattle Flickrites at an old aircraft hangar. I was helping to organize, so I didn’t get to shoot a lot, but the little bit that I did do was well worth it
Seattle Flickrites shoot with Chase Jarvis

February

I finally made it to the old abandoned Blakely Harbor mill in February. There was awesome graffiti all over the walls of the structure

March

I started my new job at Sun in March, and headed off to PyCon.
PyCon 2008: Day 1

April

In April I switched camera systems. I am really happy about that choice.
Frame One

May

May was a very busy month photographically. I shot an engagement session for a family wedding
Susan and John
One day I headed out to Fort Worden State Park to hang out with some professional wedding photographers
Fort Worden OSP Trash The Dress Shoot

And May is the month that our daughters’ ballet studio has their big recital

June

Our vacation in June included a trip to Smith Rock State Park in Oregon.
Sunriver June 2008

July

I spent a lot of July on the road. Vilnius, Lithuania
EuroPython 2008
Prague, The Czech Republic

Prague, The Czech Republic

August

In August I made some photographs for the ballet studio
Olympic Performance Group / Bainbridge Ballet T-Shirt Shoot - Outtake

September

I shot my first set of senior portraits in September
Ryan - Class of 2009

October

I haven’t been around a lot this year to shoot with Seattle Flickrites. In October, a few of us took advantage of a local studio
Nathan

November

A number of dancers from the studio were involved with a local production of the Nutcracker. I shot the headshots that were used in the program
Headshot for OPG Nutcracker

December

And I photographed the actual performances once December rolled around
Olympic Performance Group Nutcracker 2008

My Nikon D3 Report

I’ve been dithering back and forth about writing this, but Duncan’s recent posts about his new D700, as well as several camera discussions that I had at ApacheCon have pushed me over the edge.

Back in April I bought a new camera. When I got my first digital SLR back in 2005, I was just getting (back) into photography, and I had no idea if was going to really take to it or whether I would be any good. As a result, I went for the best cheapest camera that you could get at the time, which was Canon’s Digital Rebel XT. That camera served me well, but thanks to the digital format, I’ve been getting better at a pretty decent rate, and I was starting to run into areas where the camera was interfering with my ability to get the shots that I wanted. I knew that a new camera was not going to bump my work up a huge amount, but I was starting to get frustrated with it. It also wasn’t a smart idea for me to play with a Nikon D300 at one of the Seattle Flickr Meetups.

If I was going to upgrade cameras, I was also probably going to go full frame, because I like very shallow depth of field shots, and the possibilities for thin depth of field are better on full frame. This presented a problem. I only had one really good lens in my Canon set, the 17-55mm EF-S lens. The Canon EF-S lenses are unusable on the Canon full frame cameras, which basically meant that I would have to start over in terms of good lenses. Since I was going to have to start over, it only made sense to look at all the cameras in the marketplace.

When I did that, I was really impressed with the ergonomics of the Nikon cameras, so I started really looking at them much more seriously. Nikon has been been very aggressive about improving their cameras. This is in contrast to Canon, which had not dramatically improved the 20D/30D/40D series, had yet to announce the 5DMk2 and which has had very public problems with the top of the line 1DMk3. Back in April, there was only a single full frame Nikon camera, the D3. So after a bunch of deep breaths, that’s what I decided to buy.

Likes

So far, I am really happy with the camera. It is sensitive to light in a way that goes even beyond what my eyes normally see (unless I am really careful). As an example, at a recent Flickr get together, I took a shot of some chairs up against a red wall. When I looked at the picture on the back of the camera, there was a definite gradient in the lighting, but neither I nor several people that I asked saw the gradient without the benefit of the D3 picture.

Brews and Views at Crimson C

When I was in Prague back in July, I was able to take a number of night shots completely hand held. Ordinarily, I would have had to use a tripod for many of these, but these shots are more than passable for handheld.

Prague, The Czech Republic

As far as image quality goes, I am very happy. I am quite satisfied with the sharpness and color rendition of D3 images. The Nikon white balance does a pretty good job, better than the XT’s auto white balance, but of course, that’s not a very fair comparison at all. The biggest thing that I’ve run into is that the exposure really needs to be spot on, because the camera is so sensitive to light, that it is easy to blow out highlights. High ISO performance is really good, and when the noise starts to creep in, it looks much less objectionable than the noise that I’m used to on the Canon sensors. I shoot entirely in RAW, and I’ve brought back both badly over and underexposed shots in postproduction (I’m pushing myself to shoot fully manual as much as possible, and sometimes I forget to adjust). One drawback is that the 12MP RAW files take up around 12-13MB. The D3 eats CF cards very quickly, and I rarely shoot in one of the burst modes. This translates into demands for more hard disk space and bandwidth, and ultimately ends up pushing the computer harder, as Lightroom and Photoshop have to work harder to get all that data into memory and then do all the image processing operations. A Mac Pro is definitely in my future for these reasons, and I don’t even want to think about what this means for people shooting the Canon 5dMk2, 1DsMK3, or the Sony A900, at 20+MP resolutions.

The build quality is fantastic. Everything is solid and well crafted. Even though my hands probably on the smaller side, I find that the camera fits my hands well, and that the camera is well balanced, even with a 70-200 zoom lens mounted on the front. My hands fall naturally on the command dials and the autofocus point selector, whether I am using the main controls or the vertical controls on the grip. All the build quality means extra weight, which is taking a little getting used to, but it is good exercise.

It’s taken me a little while to get used to all the controls, but I much prefer Nikon’s system of using buttons in combination with dials as opposed to forcing me to take the camera from my eye in order to change things in a menu. I’m finding that I’m very quick to make adjustments, with one exception. I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of switching metering modes without taking the camera down from my eye. The control for this is up on the prism housing, and requires a decent amount of force to switch. In some low light situations, I tend to switch back and forth between evaluative (matrix) and spot metering modes, so this is an inconvenience. The alternative is for me to spend more time shooting in manual mode and learning to compensate for how the meter behaves, which is probably a good skill to be developing anyhow.

The autofocus system has performed really well. I’ve been able to accurately track fast moving action, and even in fully automatic mode, the camera finds the correct focus point a high percentage of the time. For portrait work, I still switch to a mode where I can select the focus point, because I just want the extra level of control. The only thing that I have noticed is that under some very low light situations, the camera can take a little while to lock. It’s still not entirely predictable to me when this is likely to happen. I love the huge viewfinder on the D3. I frequently had shots where I framed carefully in the camera, only to have extra stuff creep into the picture due to incomplete coverage in the viewfinder. I like this more than I expected to.

It seems to be conventional wisdom that Nikon’s TTL flash system is better than Canon’s, and based on my experience I’d have to agree. For the most part, I am an off camera lighting guy, but there are some situations, like parties and wedding receptions, where you just don’t have the time to make the adjustments for manual lighting. So far, I’ve found that the iTTL system works better than the Canon system. The D3′s high ISO performance adds to this by allowing you to shoot bounce flash pictures in rooms with much higher ceilings than previously possible.

There are lots of smaller things to like. The battery for the D3 lasts forever. I shot three ballet performances in one weekend, using a big image stabilized zoom in continuous focus mode, on a single battery charge. There was plenty of charge remaining. The other thing that I like is the dual Compact Flash card slots. I like the flexibility of using two smaller cards and overflowing from one slot to another. It means less worrying about managing cards in high volume shooting situations.

Dislikes

There’s one major thing that I have found that I dislike. On Canon’s you can switch between Aperture Priority and Manual modes, and have two different aperture settings. This makes it easy to have a set of manuals setting for strobes, and then flip to Aperture Priority for natural light. On the Nikon, whatever Aperture you set, will be the same for both modes. So if you are at f/8, 1/250th in Manual, but need to shoot at f/2.8 in Aperture Priority, when you switch from Manual to Aperture Priority, you’ll need to also switch the Aperture to f/2.8. And when you go back to manual, you need to go back to f/8. I can understand why it’s designed this way, but for the way that I use the camera, it’s something that I miss from the Canon.

Another dislike (well, I don’t mind it that much) is that the shutter snap on the D3 is pretty loud. Back in May I spent a day shooting with some wedding photographers. Almost all of them were shooting Canon 5D’s, and a few people exclaimed over how loud the shutter was. I guess that Kevlar shutter is going to last.

The D3/D700 start at ISO200. You can get down to an ISO 100 equivalent, but its an extension. If you are outside trying to knock down the Sun with strobes, ISO200 is one stop higher than you want to be. This is one area where the 5D/5Dmk2 have a nice advantage — you can get down to ISO50, 2 stops better. I guess you can always bring more watt/seconds, but it’s kind of a pain. Or you could use something like RadioPoppers to get your sync speed up several stops.

It’s annoying that Nikon didn’t put the dust shaker from the D700 into the D3. I’ve learned to clean the sensor myself, but it is annoying. On the other hand, even people with dust shakers need to have their cameras cleaned periodically, so maybe it’s just not that big a deal.

Some shots

This is an awesome camera – so if you see bad shots from me, you know it can’t possibly be the equipment.

JavaOne 2008

Fort Worden OSP Trash The Dress Shoot

Bainbridge Ballet Recital 2008

Bainbridge Ballet Recital 2008

EuroPython 2008
OSCON 2008
PyCon UK 2008
ApacheCon US 2008

Yes, I shot the Eclipse tonight

Today's lunar eclipse at totality

24 Hours of Flickr…

I’ve finally dug out a bit from several really busy weeks at work, so I thought I’d celebrate by sharing my candidates for Flickr’s “24 Hours of Flickr” event. I need to pick one of these to submit, so comments are very welcome.

24 Hours of Flickr

24 Hours of Flickr

24 Hours of Flickr

24 Hours of Flickr

24 Hours of Flickr

Flickr 100K

This afternoon my Flickr stream hit 100,000 views. In honor of that occasion, here’s the photo that was at the end of the stream:

Strobe lit Daffodil

Gung hei fat choi! (early)

Last weekend was the second annual Bainbridge Island Chinese New Year celebration, sponsored by the Bainbridge Island Chinese Connection. Last year, I went alone (the girls had the flu) and shot some pictures in the rain. This year, the whole family went, it was sunny, and I shot pictures on behalf of the BI Chinese Connection. It turns out the my Flickr set from last year (and scarily enough, this year, already!) are the top hit for the search term “Bainbridge Island Chinese New Year”. Earlier this year one of the organizers discovered this, tracked me down and asked me to shoot for them this year. I was only too happy to oblige. In addition to the Lion Dance and parade which happened last year, this year there was also a collection of traditional Chinese performances on the eve of the celebration. Here are a few of my favorites from this year’s set.

Fire dance

Chinese Opera: "Sword Dance from Farewell my Concubine"

Bainbridge Island Chinese New Year: Cultural Booths

Bainbridge Island Chinese New Year: Cultural Booths

Bainbridge Island Chinese New Year 2007: Lion Dance

Bainbridge Island Chinese New Year 2007: Parade

In keeping with her recent video efforts, Julie also put up some video of the various events.

Vote for me?

Thanks to Anita for pointing out that I am on the ballot for Seattle metroblogs. How I got there is anyone’s guess, though.

Since they dubbed me a photographer, here’s a picture:

2006 – A photographic review

Following in Ryan’s footsteps (although not his skill), here are some important moments/photos from 2006.

January

Street Parade

Bainbridge Island had it’s first Chinese New Year’s celebration, and I spent a rainy afternoon with the festivities. I’ll be doing this again this year.

What's wrong with this picture?

This photo of (part of) the Mac Geek contingent at Microsoft’s Search Champs event is my most view photo on Flickr.

February

Crocus

Flower portrait season started early

Northern Voice

This shot happened accidentally on the way back from lunch during Northern Voice 2006. It was a reach out and grab you photo moment for me.

March

Crocus

The flower portraits come easily to me, and I enjoy them. For the first time in my life, I actually appreciate flowers.

April

A portrait of chives in our front yard, a great memory of a warm spring afternoon with the family.

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market is a beautiful place – we were there for a tourist visit with my brother who came to visit from the East Coast. There was some very good eating that night.

May

2006 was also the year of Strobist. The little that I know about flash photography, I’ve learned from David’s great blog. I still have a lot more to learn, and a bunch more practicing to get consistent, but I’ve definitely made the transition from “natural light only, I hate flash” to “I know that this could look great if I can light it right”.

June

Gnomedex 6.0: Day 1

We spent the beginning of June at Gnomedex 6.0, where Chris and Ponzi asked me to do some shots for them. It was a great learning experience for me.

Bainbridge Ballet 2006 Recital Dress Rehearsal

Also in June, Abigail had her annual dance recital. That isn’t her above, it’s one of the older students. I still remember this shot. There was a lighted window frame being projected onto the floor, and dancers were cycling through that patch of light. I remember scrambling to try to get one good shot…

July

OSCON 2006

July is OSCON month, and the camera went with me, as usual. The picture above won the OSCON photo contest — a great honor for me. This shot was also one of the few shots where I actually asked someone if I could take their picture before I did it.

Strobist Boot Camp Assignment #2 - Background

Also in July, one of my Strobist Boot Camp Assignment shots caught David Hobby’s eye. My friend Paul and I had a great time doing a bunch of these shots in his painting studio.

August

In August, we discovered the band Late Tuesday at the Bainbridge Island waterfront park concert series. Sadly for us, this is their last year playing together.

September

Abigail caught a snail, and we subjected it to the photographic treatment.

October

ApacheCon 2006: Sun unBOF/Party

In October I went to Austin for ApacheCon. Austin was a great location for ApacheCon, with plenty of evening activities. I spent more time shooting evening activities than I did actual conference sessions.

November

Slushprint

Yep, snow in November. On Bainbridge Island, no less. I hope our weather is better in 2007…

December

Chris & Ponzi's Wedding - Preparations

The biggest event in an action packed December was Chris and Ponzi’s wedding. Julie and the girls were in the wedding, and I was shooting all over. It was all the benefits of shooting a wedding, and none of the scary responsibility. It was Chris and Ponzi’s day for sure, but being at a wedding always makes me think back to mine, so it shouldn’t be any surprise that this is my favorite.

Ok, that’s all the year in review or year to come type stuff you’ll be getting from me. I promise to resume technology blogging in short order.

Long gone Cosmo