The Blog: See what
Sigma is saying.

03.14.2011
Hi, I’m Jack Howard, and I’m working for Sigma as a Web Editor now. My mission here is simple and concise: create and curate web content for Sigma’s Photo World that is informative and inspiring to the Sigma community of photographers.

Of course, this means I’ll be writing and editing How-to, Tips & Tricks, and Tutorials for making the most of your Sigma lenses, cameras, and small strobes. And it also means finding, sharing and celebrating fantastic photos and videos created with Sigma’s tools. Are you (or someone you know) doing something amazing with Sigma gear? We want to know! Have a question about field technique, or which lens is right for you? We’ll do our best to tackle these, too!

Jack Howard, self-portrait February 2011. Rutgers Gardens, New Brunswick NJ. Captured with the Sigma 8-16mm f4/5-5.6 HSM DC lens on a Canon EOS20D with a 580EX II strobe for foreground fill. I’m holding the Sigma 70-200 f2.8 EX APO DG HSM OS mounted on a Canon EOS Rebel XTi. Rutgers Gardens, New Brunswick NJ.

Who am I? Part 1

I’m a photographer!

I’ve been crazy for photography most of my life, due to the influence of both my mother and father.

My mom always made sure we had fantastic books and magazines in the house when my brothers and I were growing up in the ‘70s and ‘80s. The images in Ranger Rick and World magazine, and National Geographic books “Our Fifty States” and “Our World” amazed and inspired me, and I dreamed of one day being able to capture my experiences in dramatic and amazing images like the ones I’d see as I flipped these pages and countless other books and magazines.

Photo by my dad, Jim Howard, 1960, McGovern’s Tavern, Newark, NJ. That’s my grandfather, James Howard, at left, with his business partner, Frank McGovern.

My father, Jim Howard, is himself a lifelong photographer. He freelanced for papers such as the Newark Evening News back in the 1960s and shot tons of weddings and events through the years. He taught me a lot of the basics and fundamentals of photography in my early days–which I begrudgingly learned, although always wanted to run before I could walk (and not just in photography, he’d probably add!) I still occasionally pester him with certain technical questions about old-school flash and strobe techniques, and he pings me with for help with obtuse commands and workpath shortcuts in Photoshop. He helped me get my first regular pay as a photographer back in late 1997: a permanent part time gig with our hometown weekly.

Since then, I have been working in the photography industry in one capacity or another, and it has been an amazing journey. Through almost all of it, Sigma gear has factored in to my photographic growth and career arc in one way or another and I am very excited to be working with the great Sigma team, and also with our amazing fan base in this new role.

  • My brother and I brought a camo green Sigma 400mm f5.6 APO tele lens on a month-long ski and exploration adventure to New Zealand in 1992. I shot tons of sheep and made some really bad frames of Keas, New Zealand’s alpine parrots on this trip.
  • I shot much of my early newspaper work with a Sigma 28-200 superzoom, and packed this as my only lens for a visit to Ireland in August 1998. Photos from this trip still decorate my home office. (And I’m pretty sure one of my brothers is still shooting with this lens!)
  • Shortly after the Ireland trip, I picked up the Sigma 17-35 f2.8-4.0 ultrawide zoom for newspaper work, and this was one of my workhorse lenses for many years. I can’t even count how many frames I made with this lens in the first years of the new century.
  • I dreamed of getting to shoot with the 300-800mm f5.6 “Sigmonster” when I first read about in Popular Photography around 2002 or 2003. I didn’t know it at the time, but I’d wind up working for PopPhoto just a few years later, where I’d finally get the chance to shoot with this lens! To this day, this is one of my all-time favorite pieces of camera gear.
  • As I began to explore professional-level HDRI photography beginning in 2006, I had been waiting for a compact camera that was truly up to the challenges of this particular subgenre of photography. Sigma’s original DP1 was the first compact camera that I felt produced truly professional quality images for HDRI photography. There’s now a few worthy competitors in this class, but every DP camera has built on this quality. I’m a big fan of the DP cameras for top-quality HDRI without lots of bulky gear!
  • And I can’t wait to get my hands on the new SD1!

Visit back next week when we’ll tell Part II of my background story focused on the writing side of things.

Me and Sigma gear through the years: A Photo History

I packed a Sigma 28-200 superzoom, a Canon EOS Elan II and tons of film for a visit to Ireland in August 1999. It rained horribly for pretty much all but one afternoon I was there. I made these three shots in Galway when the weather finally cleared. The shot of the boat is sitting in a frame in my home office not eight feet from where I’m writing this in 2011.

That Sigma 17-35mm f2.8-4.0 was one of my workhorse lenses for many years, as reflected in this stack of prints that were in, or considered for, my portfolios, at some point.

I’ve been lucky enough to shoot with the amazing Sigma 300-800 f5.6 “Sigmonster” on more than one occasion. I love birds and bird photography, and I’m crazy about this lens, especially when it is pointed at anything avian, be it ducks, penguins, or what have you! What great reach and flexibility this unique supertele zoom offers!

As many of you may know, I’m a big fan of High Dynamic Range Imaging, and I am also a very big fan of the feature set of the DP class of cameras for serious, high-quality tone mapped images. Both of these HDRI shots were made using the Sigma DP2 within the past two years.

I made this frame of a snacking Cooper’s Hawk just a few weeks ago out my 2nd floor bathroom window with the new Sigma 70-200 f2.8 EX APO DG HSM OS mounted on a Canon EOS Rebel XTi. This was a grab-it-and-shoot-before-it-is-gone pop-up photo, and I am very happy with this frame. I’ll talk more about this image in a subsequent blog posting in the near future.

Read Part II of Jack’s story here.

Got a question relating to Sigma gear or field technique for a particular type of shoot? Email it to me at PhotoWorld@Sigmaphoto.com, and we’ll do our best to answer it! Know of a great photo project created with Sigma cameras, lenses or strobes? Send us a link! We can’t guarantee we’ll be able to cover every single email we receive in the blog, but we’ll always try to be informative and enlightening!

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  1. [...] recently been made aware of a new photography magazine that’s hit the North American market. Jack Howard, author of Practical HDRI and Practical HDRI 2nd Ed let me know about it a few weeks ago. The mag. [...]