Now halfway through my most current yearlong photography project (first quarter can be seen here!), the increasingly-varied topics for weeks 14-26 in my Project 52 made for some challenges in going out in the “Snowmageddon” winter that plagued much of the United States. Thankfully, the worst of it all is past, and rarely does it dip into sweater weather anymore in Kentucky. In an effort to keep with my original goal, all the shots in my project are captured with the Sony NEX-7, and with my recent exploration into studio lighting, I have new ways to light my photographs like never before. That said, descriptions accompany all the following images:
Nikon 105mm, ISO 100, f/16, 8 Seconds
When I had to pick a subject representing my favorite food, I realized that I couldn’t come to any one decision on a dish that I craved more than any other. So in an effort to make the choice a little easier, I picked my favorite meal of the day. Though many in the world today skip breakfast to save time in the morning, I find making an effort to get filled up on all the right stuff rewarding in its own right for the health and energy benefits. It is all about balance, though. If I do not offset those toaster strudels with good choices like fruit and wheat cereal, I would only be making it harder on myself. :) Continue Reading
Structured photo challenges are a great way to focus a photographer’s creativity towards specific subjects or assignments. Last years’ Project 52 with a local photography group was my first foray into this year-long event, and I did not want it to be my last! In fact, I considered to undergo a project 365 this year, but my semester of student teaching kept me indoors and working almost all day, every day. But I could manage one photograph a week, of course. After all, there are weekends to enjoy! As such, this is the first of four quarters of my most recent project 52 that will span most of 2014. These photographs span from early November to just a few days ago, and since I am not sharing an entire year, I can elaborate on each photograph’s theme and backstory a bit more.
So let’s kick it off with week one. All photographs captured with the Sony NEX-7. Click on each photograph for a larger 2000×1333 size:
Nikon 85mm, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/2000
The first topic for my project was typical for the season, asking for an autumn photograph right when most of the foliage in Kentucky was at peak color. Oak trees have a particularly warm color when they begin to change, and when they are backlit by an equally-warm sunset, the overall aesthetic is pretty cozy. The f/2.8 aperture helps blur out the rest of the sky and treeline in the background just enough to give the subject leaves the necessary “pop”. Continue Reading
32mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/320
Summer keeps on a-rollin’ in the bluegrass, as temperatures remain warm, fields stays green, and flowers continue to grow. At the same time, and just how I detailed a couple weeks ago, my summer work keeps me busy for a lot of the time I would prefer to dedicate to photography. That’s the downside to making money, I suppose. It does take time and effort to earn it. :)
On the bright side, with all the recent rumors flying around about the full-frame NEX, it’s a good thing I’m saving my money! As many readers know, a full-frame NEX-7-styled camera is one that I have dreamed of for a long time. I’ve got just about all the full-frame AI-s Nikkors I need for such a camera, so the rumored announce date of September 24 cannot come soon enough!
Back to the here and now, let’s take a look at all things photographic over the past couple weeks: Continue Reading
32mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, 30 Seconds
A little over a year ago when I formed this website, one of my promises to you all, my readers, was to go the “quality over quantity” approach in my blogging. Instead of uploading photos after photos, snapshots that only clutter my site’s library, I’ve always tried to cull through only the best of my photographs and write in a style that is frank, concise, yet still sports a touch of my personality. Continue Reading
…and your first impulse is? Make photographs of flowers!
Fair enough. Flowers are pretty, colorful, and chock-full of photographic opportunity. They’re also a macro subject that’s much more forgiving than bugs; provided it isn’t windy, they’ll stay perfectly still for as long as you need them to be. The problem is, coming from your kit or prime lenses that have a limited close-focus distance, you’re used to only making straight-on, centered photographs like this:
105mm, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/20
Technically speaking, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this photograph. There’s a lot of cool detail on both the anthers and petals from the thin depth of focus and droplets from a rainstorm. Exposure is accurate, and the white balance is correct by metering from a gray card.
Other than that, this photograph is kind of plain. Aside from the thin field-of-focus, there’s no sense of depth or perspective, composition is awkwardly centered, and some of the background leaves are pretty distracting. This photograph isn’t making use of what a macro lens can do. In fact, this shot was purposely taken at about the same close-focus distance that most 100mm lenses end up at. As such, just about anyone can make this photograph with just about any lens. I’d be willing to bet a shockingly similar photograph to the one above is somewhere out there on the internet.
You bought a macro lens, didn’t you? Why not take advantage of its closer-focusing capabilities? Continue Reading
Click here for my first impressions of this lens. IMPORTANT! If you are unfamiliar with my lens review style, please reference THIS POST first! If you are only interested in my comparison of this lens to the Sony 35mm f/1.8 OSS, scroll down to the bottom of this page. :)
Well it’s about time! Ever since Sony released the specifications for the E-mount in April of 2011, NEX photographers have longed for attractive alternative lens offerings from third-party lens manufacturers such as Tamron and Sigma. Sony liked Tamron’s more-compact 18-200mm so much, it was rebranded as the SEL18200LE. Sigma’s low-cost, zero-frills 19/30/60mm f/2.8 primes all provide outstanding image quality for their price. Even Rokinon/Samyang/Bower/(you name it) surprised everyone with their surprisingly affordable and high-quality 8mm f/2.8 fisheye!
It’s better to arrive late to the party rather than never at all though (the Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 is a Sony-branded lens so it doesn’t count), and Zeiss decided 2013 was the year to introduce their new “Touit” (pronounced like “do it”) line of lenses for both E-mount and X-mount. In addition to the 32mm f/1.8, a super-wide 12mm f/2.8 is available now, and a 50mm f/2.8 Makro-Planar (how Zeiss spells “Macro”) should be available by fall. These lenses are all designed with the serious mirrorless shooter in mind, providing optics that are lightweight and compact, yet powerful enough to resolve fine detail across the large APS-C sensors found in the tiny camera bodies.
What many wonder though: are these premium lenses worthy of the Zeiss name, usually associated with outstanding overall optical performance, loads of micro-contrast, and stellar build quality? I can’t say much about the 12mm f/2.8 (other than that it looks very nice), but let’s take an in-depth look at its more “normal” brother! Continue Reading
Well, it’s official, I’m now a Zeiss guy. Er, well, at least I’ve gotten a brief chance to use one of their highly-touted optics. Up for near-future review is the brand-new Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8, a fast “normal” lens for Sony E-mount and Fuji X-mount mirrorless cameras. I wouldn’t even consider this post a “first-impressions”, as I typically write, because I have only shot with it for about 20 minutes so far. The weather today hasn’t exactly been kind for photography either; one minute the winds are blowing too hard to keep flowers still, the next it’s a torrential downpour, and the next the bright sun washes out any color. Not too happy about that. Continue Reading
Allow me to get some formalities out of the way before anything else. It’s been about three weeks since my last post. Thanks not only to student teaching, but also a commitment to a multi-night pit orchestra production, I haven’t had any time to write new posts, let alone make more photographs outside of my formal photographic assignments.
That’s the bad news.
The GOOD news, it’s officially summer on my end! This means an abundance of free time, or at least, more time I can set aside for photography, lens reviews, and other ramblings I may deem fit for the website. ;) I’ve got lots of things in store for the next few months, so lets get right to it!
IMPORTANT: If you are unfamiliar with my lens review style, please reference this post first!
The “fast 85″. About every single lens manufacturer has a lens with a large aperture that covers the wide end of the typical portrait focal length. Canon has an 85mm f/1.2, Zeiss currently makes their own 85mm f/1.4, the m4/3 crowd will soon have a Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.2, and even the lowly Nikon 1 system has a 32mm f/1.2 on the way. All of these lenses, when used on their respective camera formats, give a semi-wide portrait field of view that begins to give telephoto compression to images—essential to maintaining natural perspectives on subjects. Combined with their fast f/1.2-f/1.4 apertures, extremely shallow depth-of-field control is possible for marked subject separation from any background.
So then, we have the Nikon 85mm f/1.4 AI-s, yet another hunk of metal and glass from Nikon’s film days. This lens has been superseded many times by AF-D and AF-S versions, both sporting fast f/1.4 and f/1.8 apertures. But there has to be an optical reason this lens still fetches a pretty penny online, besides for the allure of collectors, right? Let’s take a look! Continue Reading
It seems that every year, spring sports season comes and goes with such an undecided vigor. Much like spring weather, one week it’ll be cold and dreary with only a single game to shoot, whereas the following week brings warm weather and a multitude of home games. This past weekend fit into the latter category, sporting generally warm temperatures with five games to photograph in four days (three on Saturday, one on Sunday, another on Tuesday). Needless to say, my shutter count—and eye fatigue—went up tremendously in a short amount of time.
I figure a good exercise to keep from over-saturating this post with too many photographs is to cull four of my best photographs from each game: 2 baseball, 1 softball, 1 tennis, 1 lacrosse. Let’s see what I dig up. All captured with the Sony NEX-7 and Nikon 300mm f/2.8 AI-s ED or Nikon 85mm f/1.4 AI-s. P.S. A good number of these are in the 2:1 crop ratio. Since this is how my images are sent in to my supervisor for displaying, I usually shoot with this in mind.
300mm, ISO 200, f/4, 1/2000
When it comes to post-processing, I like to stick to the basics. If I can’t make a photograph more aesthetically pleasing within a minute of dabbling in levels/white balance/spot removal adjustments in Lightroom 4, then I don’t see the merit in wasting time attempting to make a “good”photograph out of a”bad” one. In that same vein, I won’t even attempt to correct a photograph that I feel may take a lot of computer work (aside from critical portrait work on occasion); shame on me for not getting the majority of it right in-camera!
That said, this kind of light post-processing doesn’t usually find its way into the “My Mind’s Eye” series. In these posts—the few instances where I do take the time to show what my mind’s eye sees that a camera cannot immediately capture—it can be a refreshing change of pace to find that only a little PP work is all it takes to bring a photograph to life. Spring is in the air, and I’m catching up photographing all the flora that comes with the season:
In this straight-out-of-camera shot, I like the creamy bokeh and contrasting blue against washes of green. However, everything is a bit flat–as is typical in unadjusted JPEGs of colorful scenes.
So, how much good can adjusting contrast and saturation do to this photograph? A lot, as it turns out!
The Little Ones
85mm, ISO 100, f/2, 1/400
Taken with the 85mm f/1.4 AI-s, I’m still in the middle of testing this fine telephoto, and also have more to share from some recent sporting events. Until then, thanks for dropping by, guys and gals!