On the Ride - Lake Langunitas

I know that normally this has to do with photos on the run, but this time around it's about cycling.  I took an Introduction to Mountain Biking class through REI.  It was held at Lake Langunitas, which is on the north side of Mount Tamalpias in Fairfax, California.  I had never ridden a mountain bike before so this was a very unique and interesting experience.  After our REI instructors introduced us to the mountain bikes and gave us a basic instructions on braking and shifting and steering -- plus a few lessons on being able to maneuver the bikes on various terrain -- we headed out on our ride and I snapped at the following photo:

I would have snapped more photos but I was having too much fun riding the trails.

Due to weight limitations on the bike, I had to rely on my iPhone SE and the Lightroom app.  For the most part, it worked out well.  There's still no way to control and of the camera settings, but on future excursions, I plan on using the Camera+ app, which now shoots in RAW DNG, and import those images into the Lightroom app for editing.

This summer is going to be a summer of REI adventures. Will it change the fact that this website and blog is Photos On The Run?  Definitely not!  But I plan to document some of the rides and the runs and other outings with REI while using various equipment and apps.

REI has a lot of great outdoor classes throughout the year, and they're not that expensive.  Check them out! 

Balance - with Alaish Wren

I'd had in mind to photograph someone doing ballet, but I also have a preference for someone who can show a range of facial expressions as well.  After perusing Model Mayhem and finding Alaish's profile, I went to her website and found that she's an actress and also knows a little ballet.  I asked her if she was interested in a shoot and she agreed.

I chose Stern Grove as our location because the textures of the park lend itself to so many different backgrounds.  And also, there's a small chalet in the park that I'd hadn't really shot at.

Alaish struck a pose for this first shot.  I like the lines in the background, plus the contrasting lines that her body makes.  There's symmetry and balance to the image.  For this shot and the second shot, we made use of the stage at Stern Grove.  Since concert season hadn't started yet, the stage was devoid of much of the heavy equipment that normally is set up during the summer concerts.

ISO 200   56mm lens   f/1.2   1/1000sec

This second shot too, with her hands held up in prayer, again creates a sense of balance and symmetry.  Just like the first shot, it's all natural lighting.  It was an overcast day in San Francisco, so there were no worries about using a speedlight or reflector on her.

ISO 200   56mm lens   f/1.2   1/1000sec

I saw a cherry blossom tree during my reconnoiter of the park a few days earlier and knew that I had to take her photo near the tree.  We found a spot for her to sit and I framed the shot  so that the cherry blossoms would highlight the upper portion of the frame, creating a balance between the her dark dance outfit and the brightness of the flowers themselves.

ISO 200   56mm lens   f/1.2   1/1250sec

This fourth shot is what I call my Eponine shot.  I had in mind to capture a little sadness, and I was hoping that Alaish would be able to give me something similar to a sad longing.  As you can see, she did it.  And the image below conveys that sad longing, perhaps of love lost, and momentary grief, and yet a resiliency to go on.

ISO 200   56mm lens   f/1.2   1/1000sec

This final shot is my favorite of the entire shoot!  It brings several compositional elements together that have always intrigued me:  balance and leading lines.

ISO 200   56mm lens   f/1.2   1/500sec

There's so many leading lines in the above photo, from the pillars to the white fence to the yellow wood paneling of the house, plus the straightness of her legs and the angle of her right leg touching one of the leading lines.  There's balance in the photo too, from dark to light, and with her pose itself.

This was definitely a fun shoot.  I like working with actors, because I like pulling out emotions.  A single look can change the emotion of a photo and unleash the story within it.

If you'd like to book Alaish for a gig, check out her website.

Gear used:  Fuji X-T2 with 56mm f/1.2 lens.

Downtown Vancouver at Sunrise

Sometimes you just have one of those days where you snap a picture that convinces you that you actually know what you're doing.  At least for that moment in time.

Here I was, going for a run along the seawall at Stanley Park in Vancouver, B.C.  It was fairly early in the morning, about 8am or so, but being so far north, the sun was pretty high in the sky.  And the summer weather was starting to settle in as well, so it was warm.  About 4.5 miles into my run, I saw this great view of downtown Vancouver.  It was perfectly framed by trees and the bench.  These days, I don't run with my XT-2 or XT-1, so all I had was my handy-dandy iPhone SE.  So I snapped the below photo and ... voila!

ISO 25   4.5mm focal length   f/2.2   1/1250sec

I've included the settings above, but since I was using the Lightroom Mobile App, the settings were determined by the software.  Still, the shot was pretty decent!  Not bad for lacking sleep due to allergies!

I'm continually impressed by the Lightroom Mobile App.  The photos that it's able to capture are just stunning!  I did make minor enhancements on the photo using the app:  Temperature increase and Vibrancy increase because I wanted it to really feel like sunrise and also wanted the greenery to pop out.  I normally run with amber tinted sunglasses, so this is how things looked through the sunglasses, so I wanted the same effect with the photo.

More running pics, model pics, and musician pics coming up over the next few weeks.  Stay tuned!

Noel Benkman at the Cadillac Hotel

Two weeks after I took photos of Rebecca Roudman and Noel Benkman at the Cadillac Hotel, I returned to the hotel for Noel Benkman's solo piano concert.  Having just photographed Noel performing afford me some opportunities to get some nice close-up shots, and to try to capture some images that I wasn't able to during the previous concert.

I'm a huge fan of leading lines because when used properly they draw your attention to the subject, and by doing, help move a story along. 

ISO 800   35mm lens   f/1.4   1/200sec

In the case of the above shot, the leading lines start our tale of the pianist. 

What I could have done better though is to have lined up the leading lines of the mailboxes so that at least one line is perfectly horizontal. However overall, the lines still lead our attention to the pianist in the background. 

It was another great performance by Noel.  I'll let the rest of the photos speak for themselves. Enjoy!

ISO 640   35mm   f/1.4   1/60sec

Still trying to capture the hands!

ISO 800   90mm lens   f/2   1/200sec

I thought this next one provided a unique perspective and went for it. 

ISO 800   90mm lens   f/2    1/125sec

ISO 800   90mm   f/2   1/125sec

ISO 800   35mm   f/1.4   1/125sec

Check out Noel's website if you want to learn more about him.

Gear used: Fuji X-T2 with 35mm, 56mm, and 90mm lenses.

Lily Holbrook - Spring at the Stonestown Farmer's Market

It was over two years ago when I first ran into Lily Holbrook entertaining the Stonestown Farmer's Market shoppers, and here I was, photographing her again.  It was a feeling of full circle for me.  When I first met her, I was just getting to know my Fuji X-T1.  Now two years later, I'm using the Fuji X-T2.  And while I'll admit that I'm still a noob when it comes to photography, I've learned a bit more about composition and depth of field, and most importantly, trying to make things interesting by telling a story.

This time around, when I ran into Lily, I was using the XF 50mm f/2.  It's a compact, weather-resistant lens that doesn't really telegraph to everyone that you're a "photographer".  This was my first outing with the XF 50 lens and what better way to test it out than to photograph someone who I knew.

ISO 200  50mm lens   f/2   1/4000sec

I took the above shot while chatting with Lily in-between songs.  We'd realized that it had been almost a year since we'd run into each other.  I saw something neat about her ponytail and decided to take a shot of it.

Unlike the first time I'd run into Lily, where it was raining, today was a bright, sunny day.  The abundance of light pushed the shutter speed of my X-T2 right up to the max: 1/8000sec.  But I wanted to shoot wide open at f/2.

ISO 200   50mm lens   f/2   1/8000sec

One of the most important "tools of the trade" for a musician are the hands, so I tried to capture Lily's hands in motion.  The high shutter speed helped a lot in freezing the motion.  I wish I'd gotten a lot closer to her hands for the above shot, but I didn't want to interrupt her singing and the folks watching might have thought it weird...

For the next shot, I wanted to capture a little bit of the farmer's market itself, to show what things were like from Lily's perspective.

ISO 200   50mm lens   f/2   1/4400sec

I couldn't resist taking the next shot.  The little boy sitting on the ground was fascinated by Lily and listened to her for several minutes before wandering off.  We both noticed him and commented that it was neat a child was interested in listening to her music.  Perhaps she'll inspire him to be a musician as well?  As I've mentioned before in this blog, "inspiring the next generation, that's what it's all about, right?"

ISO 200   50mm lens   f/2   1/5400sec

Next is one of my favorite shots of the day because of the lighting.  She's got a nice, natural hair-light thanks to the sun behind her to the left, but also the light reflecting off the ground makes a nice, soft fill light for her face.

ISO 200   59mm lens   f/2   1/2700sec

I was worried that because of the sunlight, it would be a high contrast situation, but I was pleasantly surprised when viewing the images.  I like the trees in the background as well because the complement they entire image.  The only thing I could do without is the safety pole by her right arm.  I could have converted the image to black and white but decided against it because I liked all of the colors.  Removing it in Photoshop could have been another option, but I again decided against it.  I should have just stood a little more to her left and her body would have hidden the pole.  Next time I'll have to pay more attention to objects like that which might distract from the overall image...

And finally, Lily's winning smile!  Like all artists, it's a hard job, but she tackles it with energy and enthusiasm.

ISO 200  50mm lens   f/2   1/5000sec

If you're interested in seeing more of Lily's work, check out her website and Facebook page.

Gear used: Fuji X-T2 with 50mm f/2 lens.

On The Run - A Doe!

Now that I'm back to running, I'm discovering a lot of things about nature that I miss.  This was the third time I'd run Crystal Springs Reservoir, but the first time from the north end. The one disadvantage of the north end is that you get a nice downhill in that first mile, but have to deal with it on the way back...

Despite the hill and the difficulty climbing it, there was a lot of wildlife in the park that you just don't see in the city parks.  Like the doe in the below photo.

She and her two companions seemed oblivious to my presence.  I got close enough to snap this photo.

I'll have to run this course again, perhaps with my Fuji X-T1 if I'm crazy enough.

In the meantime, coming up over the next few weeks will be a few musician and model photo sessions.  But that doesn't mean there won't be other On The Run entries.  I'm getting ready for my first trail half marathon in over eight months, and I'm sure it's going to be painful.  Stay tuned!

On the Run - Don't Step On Me!

It's been a while since I blogged a topic about being On The Run.  Imagine my surprise recently when I was going for a run and saw what looked like a piece of tree bark moving on its own, probably blown by the wind.  But when I really got closer to it, it stopped!  Upon closer inspection, it was...

Could this be some type of moth?  I couldn't tell.

Here's a close-up.

Lovely how it's clothed in colors allowing it to blend in with the environment.  It just stayed still as I photographed it using the Lightroom app in my iPhone SE.  And then I moved on.

The Sea is Endless

At least from our human perspective.

Where land meets the ocean it's like the beginning and the end.  The beginning of life.  The end of life.  And yet the endlessness of the sea, and the crashing of the waves brings forth a peace and serenity that transcends understanding.

In Memoriam

I recently lost my mom to cancer.  She fought a brave fight against it, but her form of cancer is considered incurable and she finally succumbed to the disease not too long ago.  In between all of the busyness of preparing for her memorial service, I stumbled upon this photo.

I remember taking this photo in July 2015 when we visited Fort Vancouver, just across the river from Portland, Oregon.  It was kinda empty while were there that morning.  I saw my mom walking through this portal of green and snapped the picture.

When I stumbled upon it a few days ago, the photo spoke to me so much about the end of her journey in this life.  I took up the exposure of the photo to make it look like she was walking straight into Heaven.  I know my mom is in Heaven now because she professed that Jesus was her Lord and Healer, so I know that I will see her some day, but not yet.

I miss you mom!

The Girl with the Umbrella - Honey Baby88

I had done previous photo shoots with Honey Baby88, such as a bridal shoot, a Red Riding Hood shoot, mermaid shoot, and an umbrella shoot.  Honey had another idea this time around where she wanted to do another shot with an umbrella.  Initially, she envisioned a rainy day shoot, but there's no way to actually control the weather.  (And seeing how my X-T2 didn't survive it's last exposure to rain, there was no way I was going to risk getting it that wet again, especially seeing the Fujifilm wouldn't repair it under warranty and charged me an arm and a leg for the repair.)

So Honey and I decided to just set a date to shoot, regardless of the weather.  We decided to meet at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.  The below shot, as often is the case, just happened to have everything working for it.  Being the God-fearing man that I am, I always like to think that for shots like below, there was some divine intervention going on.  My camera settings are listed below the photo.

ISO 200   56mm lens   f/1.2   1/250sec

So how was this shot achieved?

First off, it was an awfully bright day and you can see that I was shooting wide open at f/1.2. That pushed the mechanic shutter speed of my X-T2 way beyond the maximum of 1/8000sec.  At that point the image was still way too bright.  I could have stopped down the aperture, but I wanted to shoot wide open in order to get that very shallow depth of field.  Not only that, but because of the very bright backlighting, Honey's face was almost completely in shadow, which necessitated the use of a speedlight.  And the X-T2's flash sync speed is 1/250sec.

So what I did was pop on a 3 stop ND filter, specifically the B+W ND8.  This enabled me to shoot wide open while bringing the shutter speed low enough to be able to shoot at the X-T2's flash sync speed.

Post-processing was only done in Lightroom, and the clouds you see were actual clouds in the sky at the time we shot.  It doesn't get any better than that, eh?

Gear used:  Fuji X-T2, 56mm f/1.2 lens, B+W ND8 filter, Calumet Lightstand, Yongnuo 560ii speedlight and remote trigger.

More photos from this shoot will be profiled in a future post.

Rebecca Roudman & Noel Benkman Concert at the Cadillac Hotel

Concert season is well under way again at the Cadillac Hotel in San Francisco.  This time around it was a pleasure to listen to, and photograph, cellist Rebecca Roudman and pianist Noel Benkman as they entertained a lunchtime crowd with classical music.  It was a stormy day outside, but Rebecca and Noel made the hotel come alive with their music.

I'll let the photos mostly speak for themselves.  As always, my camera settings are included under each photo.

ISO  640   35mm lens   f/1.4   1/60sec

ISO  640   35mm lens   f/1.4   1/60sec

ISO  640   35mm lens   f/1.4   1/60sec

For the above three photos, my shutter speed was a wee bit too slow.  There wasn't that much motion blur though.

ISO 800   90mm lens   f/2   1/200sec

ISO  640   56mm lens   f/1.2 1/60sec

ISO 800   90mm lens   f/2   1/200sec

I worked hard to get the above shot just right.  The intricacies of a pianist's hands are so difficult to capture. One of the dangers of using a high focal length lens is that you run the risk of motion blur.  I used 1/200sec, which made the image darker in my live view, but because of the dynamic range of the X-T2, all it took was a minor adjustment in Lightroom to bring the exposure to where I wanted it to be.

ISO 800   90mm lens   f/2   1/200sec

The above picture is my favorite of the concert.  The depth of emotion and concentration in Rebecca's face; she's in tune with the music.

ISO 800   90mm lens   f/2   1/200sec

ISO 800   90mm lens   f/2   1/200sec

The above shot is something that I've also wanted to try to capture.  I had been thinking about since ever since I found out about the concert.  The central question: What one single image would represent the concert?  I always try to find the answer to that question whenever I decide to photograph an event.  The hands are really integral to most musicians, so when I got an angle on this, I went for it.  Rebecca's hand is out of focus, with the focus mostly being Noel's hands, but I think it still works.  There's symmetry in the angle of the piano keyboard and Rebecca's hand and both of Noel's hands.  Increasing the F-Stop to get everything in focus would have meant a really really dark image, and possibly a grainy one too.

Gear used:  Fuji X-T2, 35mm f/1.4 lens, 56mm f/1.2 lens, and 90mm f/2 lens.

Spellbound - Tiana Hunter

I'd worked with Tiana Hunter before, last year when I had a Greek-themed shoot in mind at the Palace of Fine Arts.  So when the time came for yet another idea where I needed a model who could best bring that vision to life, I reached out to Tiana again.

After having visited the Fitzgerald Marine Preserve previously in order to scout out the location prior to doing a family photo shoot, I realized that the cypress trees provided an excellent backdrop for a shoot.

Tiana has the most stunning blue eyes I've ever seen, almost like blue quartz.  For the below shot, I wanted to get some close-ups in order to highlight her eyes.

ISO 200   56mm lens   f/1.2   1/1000sec

I used the 56mm Fuji lens, which has an equivalent field of view of an 85mm lens on a full frame.  Shooting wide open at f/1.2, I was able to achieve that dreamy feel that I was after.  She looks lost in thought, perhaps admiring something from afar.

For the next shot again, I wanted to highlight her eyes.  The advantage of working with a pro-model like Tiana is that she's a veteran at posing and being engaging with her eyes.

ISO 200   56mm lens   f/1.2   1/1000sec

Her eyes, looking right through the lens, almost draw you in.

The next shot shows the full extent of the cypress trees and why this area is an attraction for some.  The trees form a tunnel that runs for several hundred yards.  Tiana's pose in the next shot is quite graceful amongst the stagmite-looking branches of the cypress trees.

ISO 200   35mm lens   f/1.4   1/500sec

Her pose and angle of her body complement the angles of the trees themselves.  Amazing that Tiana was able to hold that position for about ten seconds while I focused and fired several shots.

The beauty of these trees though is also that with just some minor adjustments, the scene can go from light and fanciful to ominous...

ISO 200   50-140mm lens at 140mm   f/4   1/1000sec

For the above shot, I had Tiana walk a little ways up a hill.  I wanted some really bright backlighting behind her, and trees framing her, but also wanted the ground she was standing on to be devoid of any bushes or flowers.  An almost desolate look, as if she drew upon some powers to make the ground bare.  The above photo was inspired by the first two or three seconds of the opening titles for the TV show "Sleepy Hollow".

Gear used:  Fuji X-T2 with 35mm f/1.4 lens, 56mm f/1.2 lens, and the 50-140mm f/2.8 lens.

Of things to come... Alaish

A teaser from a photo shoot with actress Alaish Wren.

One of the things I like about working with actors is that I can pull emotions out of them, so it was a joy to work with Alaish.  Lots of great shots from this photo shoot, many of which will be profiled in a future blog posting.  To whet your appetite more, another teaser can be found on my Instagram Page.

Of things to come... Tiana Hunter

Just a teaser from a shoot I did this past weekend with model and photographer Tiana Hunter.  It was the second time we shot together and we got some great shots once again!

There's a hint of mystery in the above photo, and it's intentional.  The place where we shot sort of lent itself to both spritely and sinister at the same time.

The photos from this session will be profiled in a future blog posting, although you can find one teaser here at my Instagram page.

Boho and Sunflowers Part One - Jennifer

Now it's back to the very beginning...

My very first model shoot took place on 4th of July weekend in 2015.  It was through a Meetup Group that I've mentioned many times, run by Marebeth Gromer.  This shoot took place in Davis, CA, about 70 miles east of San Francisco.  It was a late afternoon / evening shoot in a sunflower field with models dressed up bohemian style.  I got to the location at about 6pm and it was about 95 degrees!  But that's summer in the central valley of California.

We had the opportunity to photograph three models:  Jennifer, Kourtny, and Isabel.

This week we'll look at a few shots of Jennifer.  She was actually a last minute replacement for a model who dropped out, and she happens to be the mother of one of the other models.  What better way for her to try out modeling than this?

During this shoot, I had my Fuji X-T1 for less than six months and I only had one lens, the 16-55mm f/2.8 lens, which on a crop body is the equivalent of a 24-70mm lens's field of view.

Here's one of the first shots I took of Jennifer.  She was already posed and several of the photographers were already taking shots of her.  I found a spot and snapped the photo, leaving the shutter on auto, but opting to shoot wide open.

ISO 200   16-55mm lens at 55mm   f/2.8   1/420sec

The next shot, there was a nice shaft of light shining down, and someone was bouncing light onto Jennifer's face with a reflector.  There seemed to be only one good position to capture that shaft of light and thankfully I got it because the sun was setting rather quickly.

ISO 200   16-55mm lens at 27.4mm   f/2.8   1/450sec

Next is one of my two favorite shots with Jennifer.  Everything about it is perfect, except ... the upper left corner, there's too much light.  I had shown this to a professional photographer and while he liked it, he said that the light in the upper left corner was a distraction as the eyes are drawn to the brightness.  Also, the leading lines don't draw our attention to Jennifer, but to the brightness in the upper left corner.

ISO 200   16-55mm lens at 55mm   f/2.8   1/180sec

This last shot, I basically had Jennifer all to myself for about two minutes while the other photographers were focused on the other two models.  I saw the opportunity for an old west-type photo.  Of course, I had the image in my mind, but taking pics with the camera and just hoping that I could alter it in post-processing...  Thankfully it turned out just the way I wanted it!

ISO 200  16-55mm lens at 55mm   f/2.8   1/17sec

Post-processing for all of the above shots were actually done in Aperture; I didn't have Lightroom at the time.  Had I had Lightroom, I think some of the results would have been more polished.

I learned a lot after just taking these photos and showing them to a few fellow photographers.  Most important was the balance of the composition.  Leading lines may look cool, but what are they drawing your eyes to?

Photos of the rest of this shoot, will appear in upcoming posts.

Maureen at Coyote Point Park

I first met Maureen through Laura as both are involved in theatre.  Maureen was a foreign exchange student from Kenya.  In fact, she comes from the same tribe as actress Lupita Nyong'o.

For this shoot, we went to Coyote Point Park in San Mateo.  There's lots of eucalyptus trees and a small promontory that overlooks the flight path for planes landing at San Francisco International Airport.

At first, Maureen seemed rather shy while we were shooting, and I wasn't sure why.  This first shot was taken against a eucalyptus tree and the fact that she hid partially behind the tree reflected her shyness.

ISO 400   56mm lens   f/2.5   1/3500sec

I worked with her to try to pull out a few looks.  Knowing she was an actress, I was hoping to pull some facial expressions from her, but was a bit surprised that it didn't work.  Below was initially what I was able to pull out from her, a reflective, meditative pose which looks interesting.

ISO 400   56mm lens   f/2.5   1/3500sec

It wasn't until later that I was told that a close friend of hers had passed away in Kenya and she was unable to travel back to Kenya for the funeral.  Perhaps the next shot captures part of what she was feeling that morning.

ISO 200   56mm lens   f/1.2   1/2200sec

ISO 200   56mm lens   f/1.2   1/2200sec

As we continued to shoot though, her mood began to brighten.  Being in front of the camera that morning began to lift her spirits.

ISO 200   56mm lens   f/1.2   1/2800sec

The next shot is my favorite of the bunch!  Her pose, her look, and the focus of her eyes brings everything together to make this shot a favorite.

ISO 400   56mm lens   f/2   1/2400sec

Gear used:  Fuji X-T1 with 56mm f/1.2 lens.

Laura at Stern Grove

It's amazing how many interesting shots you can draw out of one little location.  Just moving a mere 100ft in one direction, and you can simulate many many different environments.

I've done several shoots in Stern Grove which I've posted on this blog, from post-wedding photos to two shoots with Honey Baby88 involving a lantern and umbrella.

My shoot with Laura was a continuation of our shoot where we first started at the Spreckle's Temple of Music, and then moved on to Stern Grove.

ISO 400   56mm f/1.2 lens   f/1.2   1/3500sec

I found the texture of the above rock interesting and thought that we could shoot amongst the rocks and create a scene.  Immediately as Laura took position against the rock, I saw something that could have been from HBO's Game of Thrones.

In the below picture she looks like an elf!

ISO 400   56mm f/1.2 lens   f/1.2   1/1700sec

The elf picture above was achieved with just a simple reduction in temperature and clarity.  Looks like winter is coming, doesn't it?

For the final two shots, we walked a mere 100ft away towards some trees for a change of scenery and theme.  While we were taking the below shots, we attracted the attention of several squirrels.  Laura had mentioned that growing up on a farm in the east coast, she seemed to have that Cinderella effect, attracting all of the cute wildlife.  It was almost as if the squirrels were actually trying to talk to her!

ISO 400   56mm f/1.2 lens   f/1.2   1/250sec

The above and below shots had the benefit of using a speed light handheld.  The terrain wan't even enough for me to set up the lightstand where I wanted it, so I just attached my Yongnuo remote trigger to my X-T1 and fired up my Yongnuo 560 II speed light with stofen filter attached, and held the flash as high as I could above and to the left of my head.  The light in the above shot is just a tad too hot for my tastes, but it also helps to make her pop out from the background.

The pose and look in the below shot wasn't planned.  At the time, Laura was "talking" to one of the squirrels when I snapped the picture.  I like the effect.  Again, the speed light helped illuminate her and make her pop out of the background.

ISO 400   56mm f/1.2 lens   f/1.2   1/220sec

With the above shots, Laura and I wrapped up for the day.  As I had stated in a previous post, this was the first time I'd worked with a model one-on-one.  And while I was a basket case at the beginning of the shoot, working with a good model put me at ease.

More shoots with Laura will be detailed in future blog posts.

Gear used:  Fuji X-T1, 56mm f/1.2 lens, Yongnuo 560 II speed light, Yongnuo flash trigger.

Can you really take a pic like this with an iPhone?

Admittedly, I'm one of those photographers who knows it's still a few more years before any type of smartphone camera will ever be able to catch up with a DSLR and the selection of lenses.  But I needed a decent way of taking pictures while on the run because as the trails got more technical during races, I didn't want to risk injury out there while balancing my X-T1 and hydration gear.  And, of course, if I took a tumble, my poor X-T1 would hit the ground...

Prior to buying my first DSLR, I used my iPhone 4s to take pics out on the trail.  It was pretty decent, though in high contrast situations, the photos would obviously turn out unusable.

In fact, the pics would look like the one below.

It's still a pretty good pic in its own right.  The high contrast and the glow of the sun in the distance are very pleasing.  The above was shot with my iPhone SE.

But what about the one below?

It's actually the exact same shot.  One photo, but the second one was enhanced.  I took the photo in the Lightroom Mobile App, which now shoots in RAW/DNG format.  It's amazing how much dynamic range the iPhone SE camera has.  I did the above enhancements in the app itself by taking up the shadows, temperature, and the vibrancy.

Will this ever replace my X-T1 or X-T2?  Probably not.  Nothing can yet match the depth of field of a really good and fast lens.  Even with the latest photography software algorithm of the iPhone 7s camera, there's still something pleasing about a natural depth of field versus something created via software.  But still, it's a great way to take photos on the run!

Kaycee June

A while back, I joined in on a Meetup Group photo shoot in Napa.  I'd never shot in Napa, much less spent time there.  It was here that I had to opportunity to work with Kaycee June, a model from the Sacramento area.  Marebeth Gromer was once again our organizer and stylist.

The first shot was just a simple background with trees and a small lagoon.  No speedlight involved, just natural light.

ISO 400   16-55mm lens at 55mm   f/2.8   1/280sec

Kaycee's flirtatious look above is just quite enticing.  Being an experience model, Kaycee just went into different poses as us photographers shot away.  There were about a dozen of us in all, taking photos.  Most had speedlights, but I didn't want to be encumbered with those things.  Just like a fellow photographer once told me, learn to shape the natural light first!

The next shot was again in the same location, but we had Kaycee lean against a tree with the lagoon in the background.  I wasn't too happy with the way the colors rendered.  And because of the way she was posing, I thought that a sepia conversion would and more of a story to the photo.

ISO 400   16-55mm lens at 55mm   f/4 1/150sec

Lost in thought, waxing meditatively on something.

This final shot is my all-time favorite.

ISO 200   16-55mm lens at 36.5mm   f/2.8   1/220sec

The pose, the look, she gives it an all-most fairy tale like appearance.  The only enhancement I did to this photo in Lightroom was an exposure and vibrancy increase.  I had to take the shutter speed up in order to freeze the movement without sacrificing ISO.  But with the dynamic range of the X-T1, I had no worries about not being able to increase the exposure high enough in post processing.

Gear used:  Fuji X-T1 with 16-55mm f/2.8 lens.