It was about time for me to actually visit the Houston Japan Festival. A few years ago I went to a related event taking portraits of models dressed in traditional garb but never to the actual event. As far as Houston events go, this is very fun and family friendly. Unlike the International Festival (ifest) where you have to pay to even get in the gate, this is a free event to get to and while you enjoy the food, drinks, and other goodies that you buy, the entertainment and the atmosphere is free.
Even though the light was switching from dull and overcast to horrible and harsh ever 10 seconds, I was pretty happy with the pictures of the Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko. I love bright colors. I started shooting these in manual mode but eventually, I gave up and just used Aperture Priority with a +.7 compensation.
I don’t think I could have taken this picture with anything other than a D600/D610 or D800. On the left you have dark clouds (you can’t really see them) and on the right has bright sun. The D610 had just enough dynamic range to cover both extremes.
The rest of the time was spent walking around and meeting with people I knew but I can’t resist taking pictures of interesting people and animals.
The following day, I was in the area so decided to bring my 80-400 AF-S to the Japanese Garden pond where I remember seeing some birds the previous day. It was an overcast day again and this is a slower lens at f/5.6 on the long end so I decided to fully trust the technology. My shots were mostly wide open at f/5.6 using Aperture Priority WITH Auto-ISO with 1600 as the max with a +.7 compensation as I felt the shots were underexposed. Oh and the VR was turned on and all these were hand-held.
I have to say that I’m VERY happy with the 80-400 f/4-5.6 AF-S VR. Of course I had to pump up my ISO (auto-ISO picked 1600) to make up for the slower lens, but the VR was absolutely amazing. I don’t think I could have even handhold my old 80-200 f/2.8 lens but the VR on this lens is like a steel trap. Added to that is the lens is very sharp wide open. The Night Heron picture (the big vertical one) is one that wasn’t cropped much so you can see the full quality. I highly recommend this overpriced lens.