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.
I Fell Down
Jason likes to run but he has a tendency to trip over his own feet, so we've tried to get him to run only when he's on a soft surface, like grass. He forgets a lot, though, so we still have a fair number of scrapes and bruises to kiss. Fortunately, the only times he fell down at his friend's birthday party on Sunday, he was on some nice, springy grass. He was up chasing after a soccer ball just a few seconds after this photo.
Technical info: Shot with a Nikon D40 and Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 DX lens, in manual exposure mode, center-weighted average metering. Aperture f/4, shutter 1/125 sec, ISO 200. Post-processing in Aperture 3: straightened horizon; auto WB, picked from the white of his eye, strong curve to bring down the exposure, bring up black point, and add contrast, mild dodge over his eyes.
Thoughts for improvement: A lot of the shots I got in the later part of the party were overexposed, which I did on purpose to try to get some more pop. Unfortunately, I overdid it a bit, which did some weird things to the color when I brought the exposure back down in post-processing. You can see a red tint to his hair that isn't really there, and the grass is a bit electric. I do like the texture of the grass, though, both the in-focus and bokeh, and I like the look on his face. Compositionally, the only thing I'd change is to not have the gazebo right behind his head.
No Wonder Jason Didn't Like the Air Show
Saturday morning, Jason was very excited to go to the air show. We had told him all about it the night before, and that evening and the next morning he kept repeating "Airplane show! Airplane show!" Still, we weren't sure how he'd react to the loud noises, especially since we weren't sure we'd be able to get him to keep his hearing protection earmuffs on. But when we got there he was enthralled by the initial aerobatic displays and, contrary to what I had expected, it was actually hard to get him to take the earmuffs off.
Unfortunately, things changed once the jets came out, and even more during the MAGTF combat simulation. Every time a plane roared by or one of the explosives went off, he grabbed frantically for whichever of us was holding him, burying his head into our chests. Juliette and I tried to reassure him that everything was OK, that it was just a loud noise and wouldn't hurt him, but it became obvious pretty quickly that he wasn't having a good time at all, so we left.
Of course, as soon as he woke up from his (extremely short) nap, he asked to go back to the "airplane show." So at least he doesn't seem to have been scarred by the experience. We'll try again in a few years.
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/8, shutter 1/800, ISO 200. Post-processing in Aperture 3: Curves for highlight recovery and contrast, Increase Contrast brush over the flames, burned the bottom left corner of the flames and smoke.
Thoughts for improvement: Well, you certainly get an impression of action and drama with this shot, but I think there should be something more going on around the flames besides some trucks just sitting on the runway. Plus, the trucks are a little dark--I probably should have slowed down the shutter a bit.