Recent explorations on the streets of Washington, DC.
Is the D750 the best all around Nikon ever? Maybe. Just maybe. It is for sure a damn good camera that can do pretty much all I need it to.
I shoot a wide variety of subjects. Landscapes, portraits, action, and much more. And for the last few months I’ve put this fine camera seriously through its paces.
Do I have quibbles? Sure. Nothing’s perfect, and I’ll probably tackle some of that on another day. But for now I want to focus (heh-heh!) on the positives.
It is lightweight, has a deep, comfortable grip, and produces amazing files. But what has stood out the most for me is the remarkably fast and accurate focusing system. I have spent most of my digital life with a D200 and D700, both more than serviceable cameras. But the difference with focusing between them and D750 is stunning.
I’ve been doing a lot of skate photography lately. Much of it at dusk and in the evening under less than ideal lighting conditions. But I’m happy to report the hit and miss ratio has been heavy on the hit side. The focus tracking in continuous mode impresses for sure. I tend to use group area focusing most of the time with action, but I’ve used single focus points before and still usually get the shot.
I’ve been using mostly Nikkor lenses: 35mm f2, 17-35mm f2.8 and 70-200mm f2.8. I will note that these are all older models. There are newer, more advanced version of these lenses that no doubt have better focusing mechanisms. But I regularly nail the shots with these old guys.
A few examples:
The focusing system on the D750 isn’t as advanced as the D500 or the D5, but man it’s hard to see where it’s lacking! It more than takes care of my needs.
(Rumor has it an upgrade to this 2 ½ year old camera is in the offing — maybe as soon as July!? — so things can only get even better, right?)
Skateboarding and opera all under the same roof? Sure! Why not?
On May 27th the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC treated the city to an open house event celebrating the 100th birthday of John F. Kennedy. My wife and I spent the day and a good part of the evening down there taking in all we could. We visited with friends and we soaked up the sights and sounds. Ate good food and made a few photographs. The entire Center was open and in use.
Thousands of people visited throughout the day and were treated to — among other things — acrobats, dancers, DJs and live music — Hip Hop, blues, alt-rock — and of course a killer skate session at the Finding A Line skate park in the front plaza of the Center.
It was an amazing event open and free to the public. How they were able to pull that off I have no idea, but good on them for doing it.
So here’s to more events like this one. And here’s to the the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for being bold enough to blend a great variety of artists and performers with skate culture. As you’ll see below, it worked out pretty well!
-know your camera inside and out-
Whatever camera you have — SLR, mirrorless, point & shoot, iPhone — what matters most is that you know it! Know its every quirk. Know how the flash system works. Know what all the dials are for. Know every page of the menu system. When you pick up the camera you should not have to think. It has to be second nature. One of the best ways to achieve that comfort level is to get out and shoot as much and as often as possible. But have it down pat before your first big assignment! Don’t want to be fooling around with buttons, dials and menus while the bride and groom impatiently stand by!
I don’t think photographers should strictly avoid shooting homeless people or the indigent or the mentally disabled. However, I hope photographers would first ask themselves, “Why?” Why am I photographing that guy sleeping on a bench? That lady in the tattered, dirty clothing? The young man talking erratically to himself? Show some respect. Think before you shoot.
-step outside your comfort zone-
Are you a portrait photographer? A wedding photographer? Have you ever tried street photography or nature photography? You should! Exploring different styles is nerve wracking and exhilarating at the same time. It also gives you an informed appreciation for the work of others. And it affects the way you shoot your everyday work. Much of what you learn from one genre can be applied to another. Expand your horizons.
-become an avid reader-
Fiction and nonfiction. Learning how the world works and seeing the world through the eyes of others is vital for a well rounded life. Reading lets us step outside our bubble, literally and figuratively. Ultimately, this helps photographers approach their subject with more empathy, creativity, and thoughtfulness.
Give the obvious a wide berth. Someone jumping over a puddle? A cactus in foreground with snow-peaked mountain in background? An old nun walking past a poster of a scantily clad woman? If you think you’ve seen it a million times before, do yourself (and the rest of us!) a favor, don’t click the shutter.
A short but spectacular trip.
U.S. District Judge Mark Kearney of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has ruled that there is no First Amendment protection for recording or photographing police officers unless you are clearly protesting their actions. Weird, I know. But here are his own words:
– Fields and Geraci essentially concede they spoke no words or conduct expressing criticism of the police before or during their image capture. They instead want to persuade us “observing” and “recording” police activity is expressive conduct entitled to First Amendment protection as a matter of law. In their view, observing is a component of “criticizing” and citizens may engage in speech critical of the government. We find no controlling authority compelling this broad a reading of First Amendment precedent.
This Judge thinks observing and recording police is against the law!
This means if you wanted to, say, take that groovy new camera you got for Xmas down to The National Mall and make a video–accompanied by stills–of your hometown for your YouTube friends and followers, and you wanted to include everything you think that makes up the fabric of your DC life experience: museums, Memorials, restaurants, galleries, parks, tourists, cityscapes and yes even police officers, Capitol Hill Police, Park Police riding by on horseback… you know, just observing the daily life of your city… this judge thinks you are not protected by the First Amendment! He thinks it would be OK for the police to arrest you and fine you for the innocuous act of taking their picture or making a video that happens to have them in it.
Is this a great country or what?
Here is the ruling in full. You should read it.
Looking for life in the city.
In the city. A moment of solitude found.
A beautiful Autumn day in the Nation’s Capital.
On a hot and muggy September 11th, the 2 Million Bikers to DC Rally kept one of its promises. Bikers came to DC. Two-million? Not so much. This happens of course with any protest/rally/march. (they really should stop putting numbers on it) The Million Muslim March for instance ( later changed to Million Americans Against Fear March) barely reached two dozen!
The Bikers I saw lined Constitution Avenue from the Washington Monument to The Lincoln Memorial. A rough, non-scientific guesstimate from yours truly puts the number closer to a few hundred. Not unimpressive, but staggeringly short of the promised two-million. The leather-clad Hog riders revved their engines, waved to confused tourists, and generally hung out in the cooling shade of trees. I did not see speeches from a dais, no memorial service or moment of silence for the victims of that horrible day in 2001. But then, I didn’t stick around the entire day.
Anyway, below is a shot of a man and a woman riding down 17th Street about to turn onto Constitution. She photographing me as I photograph her. I thought that was pretty cool.