Tag Archives: Nikon D700

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!

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Ooooooh! Aaaaaaah!!

Love the multicolored ones!

Love the multicolored ones!

Last night our master-planned community showcased its Fourth of July best with its annual fireworks show.

Looks like we’ve got a red theme going on.

Looks like we’ve got a red theme going on.

The Mister, our younger son, and I decided to watch from the bleachers at our nearby middle school with the kid’s pals, Jared and Ricky, and Ricky’s parents, Julie and Carlos (our trivia aces).

Glad I could capture all the pretty bursts

Lots of pretty bursts

I didn’t take long to consider my photographic options for a change. For past fireworks displays I’ve tried serious, point-and-shoot lazy, and embarrassingly sloppy.

Blue and green make for a nice color combination.

Blue and green make for a nice color combination.

This time I opted for my Nikon D700 and beloved Nikon 70-200mm lens. The fireworks were being blasted from about a half mile away, so I needed some focal length. I also eschewed a tripod totally due to laziness. So when my arms got tired from holding the heavy combo, I only had myself to blame (darn it!).

It’s the palm tree effect!

It’s the palm tree effect!

Due to some kind of glitch, the colorful show kept starting and stopping over a 25-minute time span, confusing the crowd. That made it hard to get the sort of rhythm you need to hopefully capture a half-dozen decent pix.

Fortunately, I managed to snap about a dozen photos that I thought best represented what we saw. Even though I appreciate the crisp, clear, multiburst shots, I must admit that one favorite stood out.

Electricity!

Electricity is in the air.

It looks like a science experiment gone awry! This is what happens when the camera’s shutter speed is way too slooooow.

It’s a great reminder of last night’s funky, fun fireworks extravaganza.

Blowing Smoke

A bird’s-eye view

A bird’s-eye view of Puffington

When I decided to buy a Crane Adorable humidifier for my younger son’s bedroom, the choice was easy:

This IS a smoking area!

This IS a smoking area!

It had to be a penguin! The kid loves them. It’s nice knowing that his favorite critter helps him to feel better, especially this week when he’s suffering from a bad cold.

As for me, of course, I enjoy the photo ops all that steam affords.

Nap time among the misting vapors

Nap time among the misting vapors

Almost as much as the machine’s usefulness.

Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself!

Photo notes: My Nikon D700’s onboard flash did a better job capturing the steam than the natural light. I also used my Nikon 50mm lens.

Nature Stinks!

That ain’t no cat!

That ain’t no cat!

What a wonderful Saturday I was looking forward to! The Mister and the kid would be gone most of the day at a disc golf tournament. The house was clean, and my stress level was low.

In other words, the Evil Eye had been tempted. Naturally, there were repercussions.

In the form of one of my worst nightmares: A wild animal in the backyard when I’m home alone.

Checking out a disc. Does he play?

Checking out a disc. Does he play?

And, of course, it would just have to be a skunk. I can’t even look at the photos without shuddering.

Let me take you back in time to when I had to remind myself to stay calm and not start contemplating moving. Last Saturday we had a tremendous rainstorm in the Houston area (we got at least five inches at our house). My car was out in the driveway in case I needed it, while my younger son’s Fuze was in the garage.

Around 6 p.m., the rain temporarily dissipated, so I backed the Pilot into its usual spot. As I exited the side door, something unusual at the end of the garage near the pool deck caught my eye. Something black and white. Yikes!

Yep, with my best Usain Bolt imitation, I ran into the house.

No need to come and say hi. Really.

No need to come and say hi. Really.

Immediately, I called the Mister and told him to come home. Of course, he couldn’t, and even if he did, he wouldn’t be there for at least an hour and a half. So I did what any rational person would’ve done in the same situation: Grabbed my Nikon D700 and Nikon 70-200mm lens and stood on the back porch a foot away from the back door to gather photographic proof.

After the little stinker finally left where he was digging under the deck, I had a sneaking suspicion that he might be in the garage (there’s a handy hole in the back for easy critter entry and exit). I called animal control, and before long one of our deputies from the constable’s department came out.

Fortunately, I had an extra garage-door opener in the house, so I let the deputy in that way and kept my distance. Soon he found the skunk hiding. I quickly moved the cars out of the garage, and then my hero shooed the intruder out along the fence, which it skedaddled under (sorry, neighbors!) and left its calling card (talk about your Pepé Le Pew!).

I was sooooooo relieved to be rid of it!

Of course, now I’m convinced that the beast might be back in the garage (just like that ornery possum), so I won’t be parking my car in there until we fix the back of the building and then find someone else to search it.

Any volunteers?

A Wild Fish Tale

My Nikon S6200 captures the startling scene.

My Nikon S6200 captures the startling scene.

It started with a loud splash. Followed by a bright orange flash.

Immediately, my attention was drawn from the wildflowers along my walk last Saturday to the lake. Were those gigantic goldfish grappling with one another close to the shore in my neighboring master-planned community? Perhaps they were Magikarp, the fish Pokémon . . . which could mean that Ash Ketchum and Misty were close by.

I jogged to the edge of the lake and quickly pulled out my Nikon S6200. About half a dozen huge fish were struggling so near me that I could look them in the eyes!

This reminds me of unruly preschoolers.

This reminds me of unruly preschoolers.

In fact, I could almost hear them calling out. I had never seen anything like this before. It was amazing!

Are you looking at me?

Are you looking at me?

I cut my four-miler short and jogged home to grab my Nikon D700 and Nikon 105mm macro lens. Then I drove back and looked for bursts of electric orange. There were several places along the long lake’s shore where I saw activity.

Always travel with buddies.

Always travel with buddies.

As I snapped away . . . and as the fish got close enough to actually splash me . . . a guy walking along the shore told me that they were koi. What were the big critters doing? Spawning.

A koi sandwich

A koi sandwich

In early spring, the male koi sandwich the female and start bumping her. This forces out the thousands of eggs in her body, which then allows the guys to fertilize them. From what I saw, it’s a brutal process involving a lot of thrashing, crashing, and mashing.

This looks uncomfortable.

This looks uncomfortable for the gal in the middle.

The overgrown goldfish attracted attention from just about everyone on the walking path. Privacy was not an issue for them!

Not-so-coy koi

The gang’s all here.

Yep, when it comes to spawning, these koi aren’t so coy!

A Different Camera Documents My Trip

The view from above on the way to Chicago.

The view from above on the way to Chicago.

When I plan one of my infrequent trips, I usually spend a lot of time assessing what’s most important to me: My photographic needs. I’m rarely without a camera in addition to the one on my iPhone.

On previous journeys to Chicago I’ve lugged either my Nikon D300 or D700 along with my Nikon 50mm lens (occasionally I’ll tote the Nikon 105mm macro, too).

A dripping tree outside my mom’s condo’s window

A dripping tree outside my mom’s condo’s window

But this time I wanted to go with a lightweight kit, because Chicago in winter can be . . . dare I say it? . . . ugly. Remember yesterday’s photo of the dirty snow? There’s no need to snap multiple pics of that with your best equipment.

So I opted for my newest camera, the Nikon 1 V1, which is mirrorless (virtually noiseless). Plus you can change lenses, and it’s small and light. The best part?

It was free! I “bought” it from Amazon with my Discover Card points. As you know, free is my favorite price!

The crazy lights in O'Hare

The crazy lights at O’Hare

As it turned out, I was glad I chose the V1 as my photo-traveling companion. Not only did it do a decent job with the subject matter (I only snapped about 45 pics), but I spent most of my four days moaning and groaning (when I wasn’t living on Advil), because I tripped over a curb (yes, once again!) outside of Bush Intercontinental Airport and fell, bruising my ribs.

Fluffy clouds populate the sky on the way home.

Fluffy clouds populate the sky on the way home.

I’m not sure what worried me more: The thought of carrying my heavier photo equipment while I was in pain or the possibility that I might have broken one of my beloved digital SLRs and/or lenses when I went splat on the hard concrete.

Now that really would have been cause for moaning and groaning!

Baby Boy Basketball

Zach focuses on tough defense.

Zach defends.

With my focus these days squarely upon my high school senior and his final-year activities, I must admit that I’ve totally forgotten about his school’s underclassmen.

Specifically, my friends’ baby and almost-baby boys.

So when my pal Beth told me that her middle son, Zach, was playing his last home basketball game last Saturday morning, I decided to put my Nikon 85mm lens on my Nikon D700 and head to our high school’s gym to catch some freshmen action.

Matt shoots.

Matt shoots.

When I walked in, I saw my long-time friend Donna. I checked out the court and, sure enough, her baby boy, Matt, also was playing. Cool beans! Two for the price of . . . well, none, because there’s no charge to watch subvarsity teams.

“Not in MY house!” Matt blocks a shot.

“Not in MY house!” Matt blocks a shot.

Not having shot indoor sports since volleyball last October, it took me awhile to adjust to the fast-paced flow of the game. Fortunately, the lighting was pretty good (ISO 1000), and the company (Beth at first and then Donna and her two daughters) was great.

Carter tries for two points.

Carter tries for two points.

After the game, I walked into the hall, where I saw more parental friends: Diana and Charles (our very own royalty!). Sure enough, their baby boy, Carter, would be playing in the B game. So I figured I might as well stay and continue to snap away.

Clayton beasts it up on defense.

Clayton beasts it up on defense.

As I did, who should I see but yet another bud, Mary S. Her #1 son is Jared #1, one of the kid’s besties. She was there to watch her baby boy, Clayton. Once again, I could shoot two birds with one camera, while sitting between Diana and Mary.

Carter contests the layup.

Carter contests the layup.

Of course, for me the best part of the morning was the gabfest rather than the (rebound) grabfest. It’s nice to share some time and thoughts with a great group of gals. Getting decent photos of their handsome, young men? Icing on the proverbial cake!