My life has seen a world of firsts over just the past month. From college graduation to a senior recital, and individual portrait sessions to my first wedding photography experience, the last month has been a whirlwind of activity. Everything seems to just be getting better, however, as I am pursuing more freelance work in photography in lieu of a traditional “summer job” for work over the next few months. There are possibilities for more weddings, portrait sessions, and events, so this site—and my shutter finger—may be nice and busy as time goes on!
Regardless, another “first” that I participated in last week was my first engagement shoot with a couple I graduated with at Transylvania University. They make for a very happy, sometimes silly, couple that was a blast to photograph during our 1.5-hour session. Per request, the majority of shots were largely informal, with most poses forming naturally with only a little pre-guidance from me. I have found with not only my wedding portraits but individual shoots that giving subjects general direction for poses, without specifically telling them “put your hand/foot here or there” too much works very well for relaxing everyone and making photographs that are more organic. Continue Reading
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.
85mm, ISO 3200, f/1.4, 1/800
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
300mm, ISO 400, f/4, 1/1600
Another week, and one step closer to a break. At least, that’s been my train of thought for the past month. As always, it seems, the times leading up to finals week (starting tomorrow) are always a killer in trying to find time for photography. In a way, however, writing posts on here is a way of taking a break from studying, though I do feel a bit productive at the same time. 😀 Besides, last week I couldn’t afford any time to do an update. Not today!
A lot has happened lately. Let’s get down to it. Continue Reading
What a monster…
Many have called me a retro pioneer, others, a glutton for punishment. Either way you may feel about my choice on using manual-focus lenses for sports photography (and photography in general), the Nikon 300mm f/2.8 AI-s ED is highly capable of some stunning photographs, even on today’s digital cameras.
Lenses such as this in the “exotic” category have been hyped up enough on their own with their fast apertures and long focal lengths (and cost at the time of release), so instead let’s move onto the main review!
THE BIG ONE
And this is with the hood retracted…
Well, I’ve finally gotten around to taking an in-depth look at my favorite lens, the monstrous Nikon 300mm f/2.8 AI-s ED. This optic is not one to mess around with. Weighing in at over five and a half pounds, this 10+ inch chunk of metal and glass is NOT a walk-around lens (unless you are an odd body-building photographer). Just as how macro lenses are built to do particularly well up-close and wide-angle lenses do their best with landscapes, the 300mm f/2.8 is a special-purpose lens. If you have just now started following this site, I spent much of this past spring doing sports photography primarily with this 450mm field-of-view super telephoto . The fast (and useable) maximum aperture keeps ISOs down and shutter speeds high, freezing the action with less digital noise. And yes, sports photography with manual-focus equipment is even easier nowadays with great focus-assisting technologies. Other applications of this lens on APS-C could be tight head-shots and even a bit of close-up birding (good luck sneaking up on them). On m4/3, this lens would have a 600mm super telephoto field-of-view, great for birding and other wildlife.
The editing is done, the orders are filled, and I have finally gotten caught up with the thousands of photos captured over the past few months! It has been a lot of fun, really. Over the course of pretty much no time at all, I have gone from not having a clue to what I was doing, to today really starting to utilize the intricate features of my camera and lenses, quirks and all. I can only hope it keeps getting better from here. 🙂
This set contains some of my best captures from the last game of the season in particular, along with a little update at the end. All taken with the NEX-7 and Nikon 300mm f/2.8 AI-s. Enjoy!
300mm, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/1250