Tag Archives: Nikon 50mm lens

Communing With San Antonio Nature

Little purple flowers at McClain Park

When we decided to visit my older son at college in San Antonio last weekend, I pondered what lenses I would bring to complement my Nikon D700. The Nikon 50mm lens is a no-brainer, because it’s easy to carry and great for low-light photo ops.

Then the Mister and our #2 son mentioned that they’d like to play disc golf in a couple parks, which made the Nikon 105mm, a great action and macro lens, another easy decision.

At the cactus edge

At McClain Park, where all three of my guys threw discs, there were a lot of trees. That made the lighting conditions tricky.

Old blue eyes is back! A damselfly poses.

Still, I was pleased at how I was able to capture a good photo with the 105 of one of the many damselflies close to the creek winding through the park.

A blue-black butterfly inspects the flowers.

As we were exiting the disc golf course, a large blue-black butterfly darted among the flowers. Snapping decent pix of butterflies can be so frustrating, because they tend to flit instead of pose. But today was my lucky day!

An orange butterfly hangs from a society garlic plant.

Times two! When I saw this pretty orange butterfly moving among the flowers (including the same society garlic that attracts dragonflies to my front yard) at a restaurant, I whipped out my camera and got up close and personal.

The #2 son tees off at Live Oak Park.

Still, my favorite animals to shoot while communing with nature are the human kind like this character. He’s cute, mostly tame, and occasionally he’ll even pose for me . . . albeit often unintentionally.

Baby Face

Dillon!

You’ve got the cutest little baby face!

Scrunchy face

Or should that be baby faces?!?

Stretchy Dillon

Meet the newest addition to the Mister’s extended family—darling Dillon is the son of the Mister’s niece, Melissa.

Mama Melissa pops the paci back in Dillon’s mouth.

We finally saw Dillon for the first time last Saturday. He’s a month old and very animated. He’s a kid of a thousand faces! Or at least a dozen.

My #2 son’s big hand holds Dillon’s little foot.

The Mister and I brought along our very own baby boy to meet his little cousin (our #1 son was working).

Here’s looking at you, kid!

At first the big cousin was hesitant to interact with the small fry. But Dillon really warmed up to #2.

Wonder what Dillon is thinking.

I guess it helps to wear a colorful, Cookie Monster hat when you’re around a baby!

Of course, I really enjoyed watching the two lads, as I snapped photo after photo after photo with my Nikon 50mm lens. At first, Dillon didn’t seem bothered by my in-your-face approach.

But then the inevitable happened.

Dillon waves me off.

Hmmm . . . looks like my #2 son, aka the momarazzo tormentor, unduly influenced the little guy!

My Very Own Sorcerer’s Apprentices

My #2 son thinks discs are handy for everything—even bailing water from our patio!

My #2 son should’ve seen “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” with us Sunday.

#2 tries to sweep the water away. (1/320 at f/1.6)

If he had, he might have been tempted to work some magic when the Mister asked him to help get the water off our flooded patio after a heavy downpour later that afternoon.

The broom and water make for fascinating photography. (1/400 at f/1.6)

Unfortunately, #2 had to use his own muscle power to push the accumulated water away.

The broom flies through the water like magic! (1/50 at f/4.5)

While #2 reluctantly worked his own magic, I felt like a sorcerer in my own right.

The broom moves so fast! (1/20 at f/7.1)

Thanks to my own photographic apprentices, better known as the Nikon D700 and Nikon 50mm lens, I was able to speed up the action using a slow shutter and make it seem like #2 was making fast work of his chore.

#2 continues to wield the broom. (1/100 at f/2.8)

All the time I was snapping merrily away, that well-known “dum-de-dum-de-dum-dum-dum dum-de-dum-de-dum-dum-dum” music from “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” part of “Fantasia” pounded in my head. In fact, I was shooting to the rhythm of that melody!

Working with my apprentices, I was thoroughly enjoying myself. My #2 son who had to do all the labor by himself? Not so much!

Shooting Blind

The blinds provide a barrier to clear photography.

When my #2 son returned home the other day with his friends Chris and Marcus and told me that the three of them were going to play basketball in the driveway, I tried to stay cool, calm, and collected. I told him to have fun and waited until he closed the front door.

Then I grabbed my Nikon D700 and started to scheme: How could I get great action shots of the boys without them knowing I was shooting?

Marcus drives against Chris.

I figured #2 would be mortified if I came outside and snapped away. For some reason, he thinks that’s embarrassing. What’s up with that? Doesn’t every kid want a personal photographer?

The #2 son and Marcus talk at a party.

Apparently not!  So I decided to try my luck from inside, shooting through the open blinds in the kitchen. I didn’t dare raise them, because the window I was using is close to the driveway and the basketball goal. I didn’t want to be detected. This was furtive photography at its best.

My #2 son waits for an opportunity against Marcus.

At first I used my Nikon 50mm lens, but that proved to be too limiting. Once I twisted on the Nikon 35-70mm instead, my flexibility increased, as did my keeper rate.

Marcus shoots over Chris.

It was fun having a great vantage point to watch the action and interaction among the three sophomores.

My #2 son tries a layup over Marcus.

How is basketball played with three boys? Easy . . . #2 teamed with Chris against Marcus. It seemed fair, because Marcus plays on our high school’s basketball team.

Chris attempts to stop Marcus' shot.

Looked to me like Marcus was schooling his friends.

I had a blast with my stealth shooting. I felt so clever, putting one over on my #2 son.

"Is that you, Mom?

Or maybe not!

iThanks!

My #1 son is much too serious!

Sometimes great ideas come to me late at night (if they appear at all).

Last week I was lying in bed when a vision for my #1 son’s thank you cards suddenly hit me. Of course, it would’ve been nice if this creative thought had popped into my mind, say, when #1 started getting graduation gifts. But I’ve always been pretty pokey when it comes to my artistic process, so I just went with the flow.

I like personalization when it comes to thank you cards—makes them that much more special plus the recipient instantly knows who it’s from. I had been pondering what photo would best reflect my #1 son’s tech-savvy style. Suddenly, I could visualize it: #1 would be holding our iPad with the word “iThanks!” on it.

Get it? iMac . . . iPod . . . iPhone . . . iPad . . . iThanks? We’re such Apple fan boys that it’s a great way to pay homage to our favorite computer/music device company. Maybe I should copyright it!

Don’t let them see you smile!

So how to pull off this photo? #1 put on a UTSA shirt and wrote “iThanks!” on the iPad with the PaperDesk iPad app. Then we started our photoshoot outside. I opted for my Nikon D700 and Nikon 50mm lens. I sat #1 on a cooler and started shooting.

Of course, he wasn’t very cooperative. Too bad he isn’t One Take #1! At first, he was much too serious. Then he was laughing when I tried to get him to smile.

Time for funny faces!

As I snapped off 20-plus shots, I still couldn’t get the photo I had envisioned.

Almost there!

With both of us tiring from the experience, #1 finally started to grin.

Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!

Cooperation at last! #1 has such a wonderful smile; I’m glad he decided to show it. Unfortunately, the photo I thought was best was one where you really couldn’t see the “iThanks!” on the iPad. So I used the text tool in Photoshop to type it in.

Beggars can’t be choosy!

Very Pro ProGrad

The #1 son’s college roommate-to-be, Ben, plays the slots.

All year my #1 son’s high school graduating class and its parents have been planning and organizing for one huge event: Project Graduation. It’s a supervised, all-night lock-in at their high school featuring fun, food, games, prizes, and a hypnotist.

My pal Betsy watches the Spin ’n Win wheel turn with an anxious winner-to-be.

Once we finished up with high school graduation Friday night, we had very little time before we were called to duty and fun at the high school—duty for me as a volunteer, of course, but really fun for both the #1 son and myself.

Sidebar: My #1 son, who isn’t very sociable, totally surprised me last fall when he said he would attend ProGrad. My reaction? Time to volunteer to help him earn the Bulldog bucks that are spent at the event.

Kelsey (pedaling) and Lexi enjoy a tricycle ride.

I had told my friend Elaine that I would help work security, as long as I could take photos, too. That meant I got to stroll the halls, walking softly and carrying my big Nikon D700 and Nikon 50mm lens. Fortunately, the kids were so well-behaved that I didn’t need to work up a sweat showing off my (non)muscular biceps.

My neighbor Cheryl showed her Vegas side as a blackjack dealer.

About 280 kids (a little more than 50 percent) showed up and had plenty to keep them busy. There was a Spin ’n Win wheel with guaranteed prizes (#1 snagged a $10 Target gift card), a prize walk, raffles and drawings, and three hotly contested silent auctions. Laptops, TVs, dorm room necessities, an iPad, and so much more all were up for grabs to those were lucky and/or had earned mega Bulldog bucks during the school year.

Future roomie Ben, my “third son” Chase, and my #1 son contemplate their blackjack strategy.

Unfortunately for my #1 son, he was deficient in both luck and bucks; thus he only scored the Target gift card. But each participant’s duffle bag was brimming with loot worth much more than the $30 or $40 they paid for their ticket. And #1 really had a lot of fun, especially at the casino, and was glad he attended.

Who needs games when you’ve got a camera to look at?

For me, the adrenaline was flowing from ProGrad’s start at 10 p.m. to maybe 1 a.m. when I was ready to bag it and climb into bed. That didn’t seem to be a problem for most of the teenagers, though, who love to stay up late. Especially when there are prizes to be won!

I know how these kids, who are in a hypnotic trance, feel!

Just about when most of the parents were starting to nod off, a hypnotism show started. Although I almost fell asleep along with the kids the talented hypnotist was putting into a trance, I forced myself to stay awake and was glad I did. It was so entertaining to watch the hypnotist’s power of suggestion make these teens push out of their comfort zones. Oh, the stories their friends in the audience had to tell them once the trance was lifted!

#1 sits with Alayna, Josh, Chase, and Jackie in the auditorium.

It was so much fun for me to watch #1 interacting with friends, as the stress of the end of school and graduation disappeared. He might never step foot in his high school again, but he probably never will forget his final time there having fun at ProGrad.

And neither will I!

Posing a Portrait Problem

A beautiful setting for a portrait

I make no bones about it: I’m not much of a portrait photographer. When friends ask me to take their family or kids’ photos, I always tell them that there are more-talented photogs with the right equipment who will do a much-better job. Yes, they’re more expensive, but you get what you pay for! My specialty is action photography, but these friends don’t seem willing to run around and get all sweaty in order for me to snap great pics!

Every now and then, though, I will say yes to a special request, because I’m such a softie at heart. My good friend Dana lobbed one of those at me a month ago, and I fell for her pitch. She wanted me to take photos of her #1 son Nick, who is about to graduate from Texas Tech University. I’ve known Nick since elementary school—he’s a great guy! Dana didn’t want anything fancy, just a 6 x 4 snapshot to include with Nick’s graduation announcements.

It didn’t sound like too much pressure, so I figured at the very least I’d get a blog post out of the experience. But, as usual, I learned so much more and ended up being thankful for the opportunity.

Oh, oh!

The picturesque setting shown at the top is right outside our master-planned community. I knew it would make a great background for the photos . . . and then I saw this sign. Yikes! Both Dana and I were wearing sandals, so we nervously climbed towards the rocks and hoped for the best. Was I more worried about the electrical shock or the poisonous snakes? What do you think? I’m the Indiana Jones of photographers!

Nick—pose #1

I’ve checked out enough portrait photos to know that the rule of thumb seems to be to use different angles and poses. And it helps when the subject has a great smile!

Nick—pose #2

I opted for my Nikon D700 and the Nikon 50mm lens. I was torn between it and my Nikon 70-200mm, which I know portrait and wedding photographers use. I, of course, love it for sports shots, but I wanted the wider angle the nifty 50 provides.

Nick—close-up of pose #2

One piece of equipment I really needed in my arsenal was a reflector. It’s so helpful in shooing the shadows away from the eyes.

Nick—pose #3

But there’s no need for reflectors when you’re shooting action, of course. Although it might be fun to have an assistant following me around with one!

Nick—different shirt for pose #4

Even though we shot in the late afternoon, the sun was still a little too strong for these poses in front of the water. Dana said she liked the photos on the rocks better, as did I.

The entire shoot took less than a half-hour, and I think I accomplished my goal: I got a good snapshot for my friend of her son. Not that my ace portrait photographer pal Christine Meeker is worried, of course.

Today I go back to action photography at the #2 son’s high school track meet. I’ll be back on familiar turf . . . without having to worry about any snakes!