Whew, three posts in one week? I almost feel like it’s last summer again! Continuing my portraiture practice with friends before I shoot a full-on wedding, I got some experience with poses of the more feminine variety just yesterday. This time, all of my photographs were made outside on a particularly sunny day, which presented its unique set of challenges to create more flattering light. Luckily, in addition to my triple-speedlighted umbrella, I experimented with both a handheld diffusion panel as well as a B+W 3-stop neutral density filter that I have on hand. The former turns the sun into a soft light source, while the latter cuts down the amount of light that reaches the camera sensor by 8 times, whether flash or ambient. Continue Reading
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:
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
Whew! It’s hard to believe it has been just over three months since my last post here. Though I continue to update my G+ and Facebook pages consistently, the past three months of finishing a degree have made finding the time to write new content for this site nearly impossible.
Of course, with my photo gigs spread out here and there, I have always had the chance to make photographs, so at least I have not lost my edge, creatively speaking. 🙂 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:
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
Not so hot-on-the-heels of my last post over a month-and-a-half ago, here I am making some time to address my blatant inactivity on the site. As it turns out, student teaching and photography don’t happen to mix very well. My particular placement and accompanying assignments give me next to zero free time for anything else. Seeing as the essentials—sleep, eating, and physical activity—take up the majority of that time, finding a slot to simply “go out” and make photographs is a near impossibility. This busyness has also forced me to cancel my anticipated pre-order of the new Zeiss 16-70mm f/4 OSS, a popular lens that I would have loved to review. That’s the bad news.
However, every now and then I still take photography assignments from my university for sports and other campus events. This, at the very least, helps keep my shutter finger trained and my manual-focus skills honed. Per the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, my student teaching will go only until this end of this calendar year. So in theory, next year I will be able to get back to my usual updating with photo-walks and all manner of lens reviews for you loyal readers to enjoy (many thanks for the recent subscriptions despite my absence). That’s the good news.
In…other news…if you have been living under a rock for the past couple months, there’s been a lot of buzz around the near-future of Sony’s E-mount. Some rumors are claiming Sony to introduce a whopping three E-mount cameras, all with a full-frame 35mm sensor! One is a supposed “NEX-9”—a camera I’ve dreamed about ever since the first time I shot with my beloved NEX-7—while another may be an ILC-9 or a9000 (a full-frame version of the already available a3000). Since that one will be relatively bulky with its pointless DSLR shape, it appeals less to me (well, the added grip of that shape gives it some relevance). Regardless, come mid-October, Sony has the very real chance of taking the mirrorless photography world by storm, and I’ll be watching avidly for pre-orders. 😉
Now, time for some photographs, right? Over the past year, I’ve taken part in my own Project 52, submitting one quality photograph for every week of the year under a supplied theme. My “supervisor” for the project is a local photography group that I’ve joined on Meetup.com, and the ability to see multiple other photographers’ work as the project progressed made the entire process more enjoyable.
All the following (52 in all, so yes, there’s quite a bit of scrolling ahead) photographs below are downsized to a web-friendly 2000×1333 ratio or similar to keep the site’s bandwidth from filling up. Most here are captured with the NEX-7, though a few captured with other cameras found their way into the project. A good number of these photographs have been featured elsewhere on my website in lens reviews or other photographic posts. Also, all photographs are in the ProPhotoRGB colorspace to get correct yellow saturation levels, so depending on your browser and viewing device (I recommend Google Chrome on a desktop computer), these photographs may have odd saturation levels on your screen.
As I get settled in to the relatively low-stress time of summer, my very nearly-full hard drive beckons me to do some housecleaning. Don’t get me wrong here, 24-megapixels of RAW imaging make for a great file to chew through in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4; the problem is file size! At nearly 25 megabytes a pop (more or less depending on the amount of detail captured) and firing off hundreds of shots at a time at my sporting events, a 500 gigabyte hard drive can quickly get clogged.
Since I am both in-between computer upgrades, and cannot back up another external hard drive, every now and then I go through “purges” in my Lightroom catalogue to free up hard drive space. Any photographs that are a) Moderately (or more) out of focus b) Doubles or c) Just “meh” in overall quality get permanently deleted. In a sense, I’m making sure to hold on to my best work, so that I don’t have to dig through any refuse years on down the line.
In my most recent purge, I’m going through most of my sports events and sorting out photographs the best way I know how (and the way I recommend to novice photographers):
- Start looking through a photographic outing (could be something as large as a full athletic event or as small as a walk around the flower garden)
- Realize that only the best work should be saved
- Run through the list, highlighting what “stands out” as far as subject matter, composition, exposure is concerned
- Move highlighted files to the front of the list, then look through the non-highlighted items again quickly to make sure nothing is overlooked
- Take a deep breath, select all the other files, and put them in the trash
With that in mind, here’s some of those “best” shots from my last tennis match and baseball game shot before the end of both seasons. Tennis shots were under awful indoor, fluorescent lighting that required me to shoot both at high ISOs and fast apertures to simply get a useable shot at all. Of course, this was a nice torture test, of sorts, for not only how ISO 3200 performs on the NEX-7, but also how the 85mm f/1.4 produces images wide-open.
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!
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