Monday, December 22, 2014

Hanukkah at 770

It's been a busy week for me. There have been quite a few menorah lightings and Hanukkah parties around New York City, quite a few sponsored by Chabad. Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit Chabad World Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, Brooklyn to photograph the lighting of the menorah on the sixth night. Since it was a Sunday there were quite a few kids in attendance, many of whom had just come from parties.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Busy Week Coming Up

This coming week begins the festival of Hanukkah. A lesser Jewish holiday (there is no Jewish holiday that celebrates any military victory) that celebrates the miracle of lights in the Temple after the defeat of the Greek Antiochus by the Maccabees. There'll be many celebrations around New York City with the lighting of menorim (menorahs), and festivities with children. The only relation it has to the Christian holiday of Christmas is that it occurs at about the same time of year. That's it. There's no spiritual or material connection between the two, no matter what any touchy feely new age philosophy may espouse. I'm looking forward to photographing many of the celebrations.

This is a set of pics of the people out doing their Christmas shopping. Makes for superb pickings for a street photographer.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Fuji 50-140mm Zoom Part 2

Well, this is really not a continuation of yesterday's blog in which I posted a number of test shots and the metadata from my test run with the new zoom lens. Today, three of the same shots after my conversion to B/W in Silver Efex Pro2. Doing some detailed work on the images gave me the chance to see just how wonderful the RAW images were:

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Fuji 50-140mm Zoom Field Test

I braved the chilly temperature in NYC this afternoon to take the new Fuji 50-140mm f2.8 zoom lens onto the streets to give it a shakedown test. Yes, this lens is bigger and heavier than what a typical Fuji shooter may be accustomed to. I found that the tripod collar, even though it is quite lightweight, was an annoyance. It got in the way of being able to adjust the zoom ring, so off it came. The focus is fast and quiet, and the optical image stabilization (OIS) works quietly and is a great boon for an old guy with less than steady hands. I usually shoot with focal lengths of 10-50mm, so using this lens was an adjustment for me. As fast as the focus is, it just doesn't respond as quickly as a wide angle lens. And I found I have to anticipate shots more than I'm used to.

There was no attempt to do wonderful street shooting. The first five sets below are the same shot - first without OIS, then with OIS. Following that are thirteen random images I shot just to test the focus speed and lens acuity. The only post-processing was color balance adjustment. No exposure or noise adjustments. All shots were in RAW format, converted to jpg by Lightroom upon export. All shots were made between 5 and 6pm at the intersection of Broadway and 34th street. The focal lengths are all in APS-C format.

Set 1: 140mm, f8, 1/125 sec., the first shot at ISO 800, the second at 640. When I zoom in the second of the two is noticeably sharper:

Set 2: 140mm, f8, 1/30 sec., both ISO 200. No need to zoom in to see the second is sharper at this shutter speed.

Set 3: ISO 200, 140mm, 1/30 sec. the first is at f5 and the second is at f4.5:

Set 4: both images at ISO 200, 140mm, f6.4, 1/15 sec.:

Set 5: ISO 200, 140mm, f10, 1/8 sec.:

After those tests, I set the camera in my usual mode: Auto ISO, priority. OIS was on for all.  
ISO 6400, 140mm, f5.6, 1/60 sec:

ISO 800, 140mm, f5.6, 1/125 sec:

ISO 1600, 140mm, f5.6, 1/125 sec:

ISO 6400, 130mm, f11, 1/40 sec:


ISO 6400, 140mm, f11, 1/50 sec:

ISO 6400, 140mm, f11, 1/35 sec:

ISO 6400, 140mm, f2.8, 1/80 sec:

ISO 200, 140mm, f2.8, 1/160 sec:

ISO 2000, 77mm, f2.8, 1/125 sec:


ISO 6400, 84mm, f2.8, 1/80 sec:

ISO 6400, 140mm, f2.8, 1/110 sec:

ISO 1250, 59mm, f2.8, 1/125 sec:

ISO 2000, 140mm, f2.8, 1/125 sec:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cold December Day

Winter is a difficult time from, what with the diminished sunlight during limited daylight hours and the biting cold that keeps me mostly indoors. Sometimes I just get stir crazy and need to brave the biting winds of the New York canyons. Knowing that a Nor'Easter was coming through this week and I'd be stuck inside for at least two days, I got out on Monday. As I roamed around I realized that I've been so focused on a major personal project that I found myself preoccupied and not paying attention to what was going on around me.

I'm hoping to get out again tomorrow. I just took possession of a new Fuji lens, the 50-140mm f 2.8 zoom, so I'll have some 'testing' to do. The lens is much larger than the Fuji 55-200mm variable aperture brother lens. They both have image stabilization (OIS), but the new lens focuses much more quickly and silently because of new technology in the motors, and the OIS is greatly improved over the older lens. I did some test shots indoors today and found I can get very usable images hand holding the lens at 1/4 second! I don't think the new lens is going to be part of my travel kit, but for concert photography, portraits, and being in the city that extra speed is going to be liberating. Next week for the Hanukkah holiday there will be quite a few events in New York to put the lens through its paces.

Here's some shots from Monday's chilling walk.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Talmud Students - Young and Old

I hadn't been to the Chabad World Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway for a while, so today I went with the idea to spend some time in the Womens' Room - the upstairs balcony that overlooks the main  sanctuary. After two minutes I was asked to leave. But I'll be back. So I went to one of the study rooms adjacent to the main hall where young men spend many hours every day dissecting and arguing about the meaning of each page of the talmud.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The East Village At Night

I have to get out more at night to shoot. Different situations. People dress different, look different, act different. The light presents a whole new set of challenges. And I had a chance to play with my flash. Some of these with, some without. Guess which ....

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Quick Post

A couple of shots taken in SoHo last weekend. My knee is healing well thanks to my physical terrorist, so I hope to be out on the streets again regularly next week.