Thursday, March 23, 2017

Cafe Concert!

While in Toledo, Spain, we visited several spots in the city and found one we became very fond of: the Plaza de San Justo.  

There is a beautiful atmosphere about the place, perhaps because it's right at the foot of San Justo's church.

In this particular spot there's a place called "Café Virtudes", where there's live music (they have a calendar and this website).  Here's an informal view...

In July 2016, while we were still in Toledo, they had a live concert with an Argentine tango singer.  Some view it was... under the beautiful night of Spain (boy, that sounds corny!). 

The stage lights added a touch to the evening.

The nicest thing is that there wasn't a stage, properly speaking, but rather the whole area near the cafe was the stage.

The attentive audience...  good food, good drinks, good music... what else can one ask for?

On our way back home we encountered another event: a rock concert.


It wasn't nearly half as good as the other... but, again, it speaks of the active cultural life in Toledo.  The best part of the evening was walking right under this landmark.

The "Arco de la catedral", which actually joins two different buildings (the Cardinal's palace and the cathedral, I believe), is a landmark and give a great view of the Plaza del Ayuntamiento.  But at nights it can be a very discreet, charming and yet intriguing spot. 

I will return with images of a completely different nature, always from Spain.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Toledo, Spain, summer of 2016

New photographs from Toledo, Spain, including musicians, artisans, people walking the streets, and the streets themselves.  Let's see something from my this visit.

Smoking man in "Calle del Hombre de Palo."

In the "Solarejo" bar.

On the "Calle del Hombre de Palo" at night.

Door in the Jewish neighborhood.

Tourists admiring an artisan at work.

Lute player from the "Grupo Z" playing in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento.  He happened to be part of a group of Greek music, performing that evening...

... Along with this accordion player (algo Greek)...

... and this young lady, who was their singer, and came all the way...

... from Cyprus!!  But they loved her, and it showed.

On July 22 there was a tango concert at the café "Virtudes."  I'll post some photographs later.  I also will return with more Nikon D700 images from Madrid, Toledo, Salamanca or Avila (all of these places in Spain), or fresh off the Cornfest in DeKalb (which is coming up), there will be more stuff to talk about here.  

Monday, August 22, 2016


I'm back... with musicians under different light conditions! These images were all done in May 2016 in DeKalb, with my D700 and 24-70 f2.8 lens.  No flash (of course!) and at ISO 6400.  I concentrated on composition mostly, thinking of getting a photograph that I'd like to see as a CD cover.  The performers are a good, local band, the Barb City Stompers, known for their repertoire of jazz and dixie and bluesy numbers. They're extraordinary performers and very well esteemed in this community.

I think I switched the image from FX to DX for this shot. It was the only way to get the framing I wanted.

Same here: I went from FX to DX.  Something one can only do with an FX body!

I like the effect of the dead space and the positioning of the player here. Not only is it unusual, it creates a contrast between the background and the idea of the music the player is performing. At least, that's what it does to me.

I will come back with another set of photographs from the Barb City Stompers... under very different lighting conditions.  In the meanwhile, let me get my newer Toledo shots ready too!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sports Ain't Easy!

On November 6th 2015, we all attended a volleyball game at the Convocation Center of Northern Illinois University (where I teach). There was a game: home vs. U of Toledo (OH). Our reason was that my wife (also a professor) was going to get an award at the half-time ceremony.  Not one of us had attended a game, even though we had played volleyball in our lives, so we went and I discovered that shooting sports is twice as hard... no, three times harder than I thought.

First, when one has no choice in seating, there's the problem of location.  Then, when exactly should one shoot?  Ball in the air, ball in the hands of a player, being hit, on the floor?  And, finally (to get technical... it had to happen), when and how does one focus?  On the darn ball?  On the players?

Fortunately, I let the camera make two choices: exposure and white balance (although, in the end, I decided that in the future I'll check with Live View first about the white balance).  The problem I ended up having was composition.  See for yourself...

 Where is the ball?

Isn't that a desk in the lower left corner?  When did that happen?

Half volleyball in the air...

Well... I guess there's only so much one can do with an AF 24-120 that has been cropped to show only a frame the size of an APS sensor.  But then, not everything was that bad.  At least I took some moderately decent photographs... See below.

 This is a fait accompli and the point was scored.

 And the ball in the air, right in the middle...

I really liked the two pairs of hands up in the air... and far, far away from the volleyball!

So, I learned to be happy with my results... and that I'm not in any way, a sports photographer.  How can one show the excitement of the game in one or two shots?  I guess sports shooters already know how to get their images... and, if it's not them, their editors know what to pick.  In any event, we enjoyed the evening so much we're planning on returning...

And I'll be there, with my camera and lens.  

Coming soon... Snow!!  We had lots last weekend, but I wasn't going to step out and shoot icicles like I've done in the past.  No... I have something nicer... but it's still in the card.  So long!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Fairs and festivals

The midwest (where I live) is rich in local festivals and fairs, so, considering this fact, here are some illustrations of the one that takes place in my town, DeKalb, Illinois.

It's called the Cornfest.

Photobomb attempt.  In the end, she knew I was photographing her not by accident.

Two men running a food stand were making a small fortune thanks to their idea of posting their dishes in front of their window... and that was real food, not plastic imitations. See them on the right edge of the frame.

I always have liked this sign, and it looked even more cheerful against the background of the beautiful dusk sky. 

People checking out the Cornfest, walking about, hanging out... 

One ride I'd like to do: the Freak-Out.  Looks interesting... 

I will return with more photographs from other festivals, and, if I can, with the result of more experiments and other hints I may find in the vast Menu files of this camera.  Granted, it may be a few generations behind, but that doesn't mean it has to disappear.  Lots of people are still using their D700 bodies through their paces, so... let's keep it going!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Past...

I have had this camera for a long time.  So long it's been "replaced" by several newer models, like the D800, the D600, the D610 and the D750.  All of them are heavy shooters, high caliber contenders, big MP guns... but nowhere near the practicality of the D700.

Given that I've had my D700 for about six years (starting in November 2008), I think it's only fair to celebrate one more year with a look backwards.  Hence, let's go to Christmas past!

Ben, gazing at the Christmas tree, December 2008
Christmas tree decorations, December 2009.  Some things just never change...
Alley in between two buildings in DeKalb, IL (Dec 2010)
View from a hill in Valparaíso, Chile, on December 2011.
Waterman Christmas Train arriving in the station.  December 2012.

I wasn't too active in 2013, so this is a later view of some deer (center, very small) in our street in DeKalb in March 2013.
There are some photographs from this month stored somewhere in the future... and I hope to have a few images worth sharing.  In the meanwhile, let's enjoy the weather, the music and the food this holidays offer, and let's not forget to make some memories on photographic media... Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Long Reach Dilemma

Photographs I have managed to capture with my only long lens: a Nikon AF 80-200 f2.8, first version.   These ones were taken on a visit to the Midway Historical Museum in Rockford IL, in June 2011 (back then, when I kinda gave up on this blog because some photos of mine posted elsewhere were stolen).

Blacksmith at work

Rider known as Johnny Baker

One of the "Rough Riders" performing that day.

I think this one is Texas Rose...

Mark Twain in one stop of his lecture trip.

For some reason, the fourth shot is a bit soft.  I believe I switched the sensor from FX to DX, and also the priority must have been set to shoot over focus (later I'll get to this).  In any event, this place tends to offer this kind of events, during which they recreate a historical period or event, and have very specialized performers doing their shows in the grounds.
Now, I'm facing a critical moment: except for trips like this, I find that my long lens gets next to no use.  In fact, it's now down with sticky shutter blades (which means they don't close down when the camera shoots and a small aperture has been set).  I am very inclined to sell it and keep the rest of my zooms, but then... what if I need one long lens for events like the one I documented above?
What would you do?
Thanks in advance!