Tag Archives: Nikon 24-70mm lens

The Backlit Photo Challenge

This is a big place.

This is a big place.

When my younger son’s adult bestie Glen gave him a TopGolf gift certificate for his graduation, I knew two things: One, they’d have a blast together, and, two, I wanted to go along. Toting my Nikon D700, of course.

Last Sunday was their last chance to use the gift card for awhile, because Kelly was due to bless Little Glen with a baby brother the next day (welcome, baby Jonas Henry!). It was now or wait a looooong time.

The outside part of TopGolf

The outside part of TopGolf

TopGolf is a deluxe, three-story driving range . . . plus more. The golf bays are outside, with the golfers protected by an overhang. Food and drinks can be served at the bay or inside at the bar or in areas that feature pool, indoor shuffleboard, and big-screen TVs. And it’s fun for all ages.

You can see the available targets on the board.

You can see the available targets on the board.

Golfers can use the facility as a typical driving range or they can compete against friends and/or family in point-scoring games, like hitting targets (the balls are microchipped).

We watched the Canadian Open final round as well as the scoring monitor.

We watched the Canadian Open final round as well as the scoring monitor.

It came as absolutely no surprise that Glen and the kid were up for some friendly competition. Just like when they play disc golf. However, my son had an advantage over his pal: He competed in junior golf, and he still possesses a nice, natural swing. Glen, not so much. Good thing he’s so athletic.

Nice silhouette effect

Nice silhouette effect

When I got to the bay and looked at the 240-yard bright, green space, I knew I’d have a problem with strong backlighting. Sure enough, my first snap of my son with my Nikon 24-70mm lens (great for wide angle and telephoto photo ops) showed that capturing the TopGolf action was going to be a test of my skills.

That stronger light causes the camera’s sensor to expose for the background, severely underexposing the foreground. As in the golfers. Great if you like silhouettes, not so good if you like to see faces. Which I do.

Spot meter with -1 exposure compensation

Spot meter with +1 exposure compensation = meh

So I switched my meter to the spot setting and fiddled with the exposure compensation to add light to the foreground.

Glen with spot metering and +2 EC = still meh

Glen with spot metering and +2 EC = still meh

Fortunately, I had about an hour to try to get decent photos. And I needed just about every tick of the clock.

Honing in on the right setting: Spot meter plus flash and -.67 EC

Honing in on the right setting: Spot meter plus flash and -.67 EC

Finally, I figured out that I had to use the D700’s onboard flash to illuminate the kid and Glen. I rarely use it for action shots, but, then again, I rarely have this kind of a lighting problem. Fortunately, neither of them seemed bothered by the added light. I decreased the exposure compensation to try not to blow out the background so much.

Got it!

Got it!

I also changed my photographic approach. I stopped looking at this as an action assignment, because it was almost impossible to get the club on the ball or follow the ball in the air due to the lighting. Instead, I chose to shoot portraits of the two, which cut out the too-light sky.

The kid got very sweaty.

The kid got very sweaty.

So our TopGolf adventure turned out to be a win-win experience. Glen and the kid had a great time trying to best each other, while I learned to be a more-flexible photographer.

I’d definitely need to clean the windshield.

I’d definitely need to clean the windshield.

Still, I’d much rather shoot facing the players. Maybe next time I can ride in the ball picker-upper!

Not Ready for Prime Time Players

My younger son shows off his mad skills for Bobby and the camera.

We’re pretty much down-to-earth people in our household. We don’t seek out the spotlight. Some might even call us humdrum, even if they’ve never heard us hum or drum (which is a shame, because we’re all pretty good at both of them).

Marcus’ pretty putt is captured digitally.

But when our pal Marcus told the Mister and the kid that they could help him hype their favorite sport of disc golf on TV, they started singing a different tune. One called “Celebrity.”

Bobby gets up close with the disc and basket.

We took the limo Honda Odyssey to Missouri City’s Community Park disc golf course, ready, willing, and able to help. I came along to document the event, using two Nikon lenses with my Nikon D700: My 24-70mm for wide-angle shots and my 105 for close-ups. This photo scout was well-prepared for a change!

Steve sails a putter towards the basket.

As the guys played and I snapped away on a beautiful Saturday, Bobby, the big-shot TV producer, videoed the action. It was a fun nine-hole round filled with the usual friendship, teasing, and awesome play by Marcus.

Marcus sinks a putt.

Bobby made a great decision in using Marcus and Eric to explain how disc golf works and to describe the play during the round. The former is a witty, brainy Rice University grad who can make the complicated seem easy, and the easy seem complicated.

Bobby films one of Eric’s short putts.

Eric, another funny and smart guy, brings an engineering bent to his conversational approach. He also might have a future in disc golf play-by-play commentary . . . assuming he likes not making any money. I’ll bet Bobby had fun editing the video.

The Mister shows off his style.

Speaking of which, we all can’t wait to watch the Disc Golfers Gone Wild in Mo City (or whatever it’ll be called) on TV. Should you be looking for it on ESPN (or ESPN–DG)?

Actually, online public access in the form of Missouri City TV is its final destination. But major channel or YouTube, it’ll be fun to watch local disc golf.

I’m just glad that my guys were there to help drum up support!

Funky Fireworks

The rockets’ red glare!

In yesterday’s blog, I showed what happens when your settings are correct for shooting fireworks. It seemed like 1/60th of a second was the sweet spot for keeping everything in focus (f/2.8 and 640 ISO with a Nikon 24-70mm lens).

Looks like a meteor shower among a couple palm trees.

Of course, when it comes to photography—like life—the good often is accompanied by the bad and the ugly. Or in this case, the too-slow shutter speed.

The artistic side of fireworks

As I was merrily clicking away after last Friday night’s Sugar Land Skeeters baseball game, I noticed that at times my shutter wasn’t keeping up with my index finger. The reason? There wasn’t enough light in the sky at times, so the shutter was ever so slow. Like 1/5th of a second at times, as in most of these photos, which is tough without using a tripod.

Pretty but slow

Normally, when I blur photos, I delete them. No one thinks you’re a good photographer if you display your lousy pics . . . especially on Facebook, people!

Anyone green with envy? Probably not.

But these missed-it-by-THAT-much pix intrigued me. Just because they weren’t sharp and in focus didn’t make them uninteresting.

Fuzzy fireworks

The funky fireworks seem artsy to me. They also have value and beauty.

In a sloooooow kinda way.

One-Word Wednesday

We loved the fireworks after the Sugar Land Skeeters’ baseball game.


I used my Nikon D700 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Shutter speed here was 1/25th of a second (ISO 640).

These were some of the best fireworks we had ever seen.

Made it worth the price of admission!

Basking in the Glow of Our Family Together

My #1 son went from rumpled to rad!

We hadn’t seen my older son in person since the Labor Day weekend. We’re thankful for Skype and Face Time, but they just don’t replace actually being able to hug a live person . . . especially when that person is someone you miss every single day he’s at college.

This past weekend we drove to San Antonio and spent time with #1 again. As I hugged him close, one thought went through my mind: This boy needs a haircut STAT! His hair was curly and unruly, a veritable lint catcher that looked like it had never been combed.

So that became a priority. As you can see in the top photo, getting his hair cut and his scraggly beard trimmed made a marked difference in #1’s appearance . . . and his demeanor. He knew he was too cool for school!

Of course, that wasn’t all we did with our boy. We fed his yearning for Pei Wei and Buffalo Wild Wings (he doesn’t have a car on campus) and saw “In Time.”

This is a lovely spot on the UTSA campus.

And, naturally, there was disc golf to be played. Unlike last year when we traveled to an actual course, the guys found a large, tree-filled field on the University of Texas at San Antonio campus and were content to just throw.

My younger son drives among the trees.

As long as you have discs, you always can find a place to practice.

Cacti are ever present on campus.

And as long as that practice place is in a field, the photographer mom will be content. For this trip I opted to bring my Nikon 24-70mm lens in hopes that I could get a decent photo of my sons together.

A dash of purple is welcome amidst all the green.

That glass can’t replace the Nikon 105mm for macro pix, but it proved to be up to the task.

The boys “happily” pose for Mom.

Plus it definitely was the right lens for the job when it came down to snapping a brotherly portrait outside my older son’s dorm.

The sunset in my Honda Pilot’s side-view mirror. (50mm lens)

On the way back to Houston that evening, I basked in the glow of the glorious sunset behind us and the feeling that everything was right in my world. Seeing my beloved son was the exact medicine I needed to shake me out of the funk I’ve been in lately.

I just hope it lasts until we see him again at Thanksgiving.