This is another from the wedding we attended last weekend. I got this image during the cocktail period between the ceremony and reception, while the space was being converted for dinner and the wedding party were off taking pictures. Unfortunately for the bride and groom, it had been raining all weekend, which meant that their plans for an outdoor wedding had to be altered. For most of the guests, though, it was actually quite nice, as the rain made for a cozy feeling indoors and some beautiful scenes outdoors.
What I love about this image is the painterly quality of the bokeh. When I look at the tree in the background, it almost looks like something one of the impressionists might have created.
Technical info: Shot with a Nikon D40 and Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 DX lens, in manual exposure mode. Aperture f/2.8, shutter 1/60 sec, ISO 400. Post-processing in Aperture 3: curve to recover highlights and deepen shadows and midtones, brushed in over the background; second curve applied to the entire photo to brighten and enhance color.
Thoughts for improvement: As I mentioned, I absolutely love the bokeh here. I'm not sure about the composition, though. When I took the shot I was mainly interested in the drops of water on the tree in the foreground, and had taken several closer shots to focus more clearly on them. Here I was trying to get both the drops and the tree in the background in the same frame, but I think it might have been better to just pick one or the other.
Delicate and Strong
As I mentioned before, Juliette and I went to a wedding this weekend. We'd both been looking forward to it, in part because we've been wondering for years now what it would be like--the couple are two of the most interesting people I know, and the bride has an eye for detail that is unmatched. This image is one example of that attention to detail. The chairs for the ceremony were decorated with little flower arrangements that were tied onto the backs, a large soft flower surrounded by what I think were thistles. The contrast was wonderful--not just in the play between the pink of the flower with the blue of the thistle, but also the textures and characters of the two blossoms. I love the idea of the soft, pale, delicate petals of the one being balanced by the prickles and tenacity and strength of the other.
Technical info: Shot with a Nikon D40 and Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 DX lens, in manual exposure mode. Aperture f/1.8, shutter 1/30 sec, ISO 800. Post-processing in Aperture 3: curve for highlight recovery and contrast; BW conversion with yellow filter.
Thoughts for improvement: If I had a camera that had better low-light performance, I would have liked to try this at f/2.8 or maybe even f/4. I like the way the shallow depth of field makes the thistle bloom soft while keeping the closer points of the leaves sharper, but it's a shame that some of the texture in the large flower is lost.
We do clean up fairly well, don't we?
Technical info: Shot with a Nikon D40 and Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 DX lens, in aperture priority exposure mode (matrix metering). Aperture f/1.8, shutter 1/1250 sec (+0 EV), ISO 800. Post-processing in Aperture 3: curve to bring up exposure and add contrast; heavy burn over the background; skin smoothing brushed over both faces.
Thoughts for improvement: Straight out of the camera, this shot was very underexposed. It's unfortunate, because at 1/1250 of a second, there was plenty of room to play with that--I can easily hand hold at 1/60 or even 1/30. I'd like to see how this would have come out at ISO 200 or 400, 1/30 sec, f/2.8. Even with the smaller aperture and slower ISO, that should still give me about two extra stops of exposure, which would either nail it or be perhaps a little overexposed. I actually like what a bit of overexposure does to eye color and skin tone, so I can't but think that the whole thing would be that much better.
Come Over Here
We went to a wedding this weekend, and after we got all dressed up, Juliette wanted to take some pictures. We did some standard portraits of each other and a few that I took at arm's length of the two of us. This was the last one, by which point we'd devolved into pure silliness.
Technical info: Shot with a Nikon D40 and Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 DX lens, in aperture priority exposure mode (matrix metering). Aperture f/1.8, shutter 1/640 sec (+0 EV), ISO 800. Post-processing in Aperture 3: curve for contrast, desaturated reds and yellows, slight overall desaturation.
Thoughts for improvement: It's hard, of course, to get framing just right when you're holding a camera at arm's length. This turned out very cute, but I still would have liked to get more of Juliette's face in the shot. I do like the texture in my jacket lapel and the color and rumple of my shirt, though, so in order to get all that and more of Juliette's face, I would probably have to have longer arms.
My Favorite Deputy
Seeing as we were there for the Brick-or-Treat event, we brought Jason's Halloween costume with us to Legoland. We got there in the morning, though, and the event didn't start until the late afternoon, so for most of the day he just wore his street clothes. When it was time to change into his costume, Jason was pretty excited, and as we headed back into the park to find the event, he proudly displayed his boots and vest as he marched along.
That lasted all of five minutes before he started kicking the boots off and pulling at his collar. Hopefully he'll make it a little longer when it's time for some actual trick-or-treating.
Technical info: Shot with a Nikon D40 and 35mm f/1.8 DX lens, in manual exposure mode. Aperture f/1.8, shutter 1/500 sec, ISO 400. Post-processing in Aperture 3: Curve to set black point and add contrast and color pop; cropped a bit off the top and left side.
Thoughts for improvement: There's a bit of lens distortion I probably should have cleaned up, and it also may need a little straightening. Other than that I'm pretty happy with it.
Jason really enjoyed the Sea Life Aquarium at Legoland. Of course, I still prefer the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but the one at Legoland does have in its favor the fact that it's explicitly directed at children, and so there are a lot of fun interactive demos and shows.
In this exhibit there were actually three or four different species of clownfish. As soon as he saw it, Jason ran over, yellow "Nemo! Nemo!" His memory has really been impressing me lately--the last time he saw Finding Nemo was when we visited my mom and stepdad six months ago.
Technical info: Shot with a Nikon D40 and Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 DX lens, in manual exposure mode. Aperture f/1.8, shutter 1/125 sec, ISO 1600. Post-processing in Aperture 3: curve to add contrast and increase midtones and highlights, brushed in over everything to the right of the rock; burned the background behind the fish.
Thoughts for improvement: The focus is a little soft, and, of course, the D40 doesn't do so well at ISO 1600 in terms of noise. Probably it would be better, too, if I had placed the fish off center in the frame.
Finishing up this little series on Legoland's Minitown is this charming little scene I spotted on the back side of a wharf in the Lego San Francisco. I just love how expressive these bricks can be.
In case you were wondering about the little discs lying around, those are pennies. The wharf display is the middle of a little pond, so of course there were coins all over the place.
Technical info: Shot with a Nikon D40 and Nikkor 55-200mm VR DX lens, in manual exposure mode. Focal length 200mm, aperture f/5.6, shutter 1/125 sec, ISO 200. Post-processing in Aperture 3: straightened horizon; curve to bring up overall exposure, drop shadows, and add contrast; slightly desaturated reds and yellows.
Thoughts for improvement: The big thing here is that I slightly missed the focus. I would love to say that that's on purpose, and soft focus can be used creatively to give a dreamy quality to a photo, but that's not what happened here. Compositionally, I think this would also be improved by bringing the subjects off center--I think a wider shot with more of the buildings and the subjects close to or at the lower-right "rule of thirds" point would be better. It might also change the lighting behind the man's head, which is a little problematic there because the lack of contrast in that area makes it a little hard to distinguish the subject from the background.
What Happens In Vegas
I mentioned yesterday how impressive the detail was in the Legoland Minitown displays. I also love the sense of humor you see from the designers. This image is from the pool scene at the Mirage, in Minitown's tiny Las Vegas. It's neat that the Lego architect here thought to include a bit of human connection in the scene, the exact kind of thing you might expect to see by a Las Vegas pool. And it's impressive that he or she was able to convey it with just a few Lego bricks. But the fact that the little Lego woman is grabbing the little Lego man's little Lego butt? That, my friends, is just wonderful.
Technical information: Shot with a Nikon D40 and Nikkor 55-200mm VR DX lens, in manual exposure mode. Focal length 85mm, aperture f/5.6, shutter 1/125 sec, ISO 200. Post-processing in Aperture 3: curve to lower shadows, increase midtones, and hold highlights; slightly reduced overall saturation; reduced saturation and increased luminance in yellows; added slight vignette.
Thoughts for improvement: There's a "man" in the background that would be better if he were a bit more to the right. I also think a wider angle with more room to the right would be a bit more interesting.
We took Jason to Legoland for their "Brick-or-Treat" event this weekend. We actually ended up skipping the event due to an extremely long line, but Jason was totally wowed by the park. He liked the rides a lot, but I think his favorite thing was actually Minitown, which is full of intricate Lego dioramas of cities around America. I was also pretty impressed by the models--they really invite you to look closely, as there is a ton of detail that you'd miss on a casual look. I could have shot for hours just in that one part of the park.
Technical information: Shot with a Nikon D40 and Nikkor 55-200mm VR DX lens, in manual exposure mode. Focal length 200mm, aperture f/5.6, shutter 1/125 sec, ISO 200. Post-processing in Aperture 3: curve to hold shadows and bring up midtones, added vignetting.
Thoughts for improvement: Would have been nice if there were a little Lego farmer feeding the little Lego cows, but I'm pretty happy with how this turned out.
We put Jason in a toddlers' soccer class over the summer and he hated it. He didn't want to run or even get out of our arms, and when it was his turn to kick the ball he'd almost invariably burst into tears. I don't know what's changed between now and then, though, because when he saw some of the other kids at Sunday's birthday party chasing the ball around, he couldn't get enough.
Technical info: Shot with a Nikon D40 and Nikkor 55-200mm VR DX lens, in aperture priority exposure mode, center-weighted average metering. Focal length 200mm, aperture f/5.6, shutter 1/125 sec, ISO 200. Post-processing in Aperture 3: Auto WB adjustment, picked from a white part of the design on his shirt; curve to reduce exposure, bring up blacks, and add contrast.
Thoughts for improvement: I like the way the grass looks with the narrow depth of field, but this would probably have been better at f/8 or maybe even f/11. I was shooting wide open mainly to keep a fast shutter speed and avoid motion blur, but here I managed to miss the focus just a bit--you can see that the front of the ball is soft, and due to his stance, his right leg is a bit further away from the camera than his left, and is therefore also slightly out of focus. Stopping down to f/8 would have given me a lot more leeway with focus depth and probably still would have had shallow enough depth of field to separate him from the background.