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12.30.2013
© 2013 Roman Kurywczak | Lens: Sigma 12-24mm | Focal length: 12mm | Aperture: f/22 | Shutter speed: 1 sec. | ISO 400 | CP and ND filter on tripod.

© 2013 Roman Kurywczak | Lens: Sigma 12-24mm | Focal length: 12mm | Aperture: f/22 | Shutter speed: 1 sec. | ISO 400 | CP and ND filter on tripod.

I had the opportunity to spend a few days in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  I was doing some presentations in Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids for Norman Camera so I was traveling with my projector for my presentations there.  I had to travel light with my photo gear because of that so I just brought my 2 pro camera bodies along with the Sigma 12-24mm lens, a Cavision 6×6 circular polarizer, and a Lee 6×6 neutral density filter.  I also brought along my carbon fiber tripod and Induro BHL2 ballhead for long exposures. I knew I would be photographing waterfalls so the Sigma 12-24 would be the perfect choice to get the dramatic wide-angle images I was looking for.  In the image above, I used the wall on the left to lead you towards the waterfall and include as much of the fall foliage as I could.

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12.27.2013

Contrary to what many might believe, I haven’t been a photographer for all that long. It’s only been 5 years since I decided to start a photography business. Prior to that I was shooting for fun, but only for about 6 months.

Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes

Although I have a fine art background and had been drawing nudes for many years, photography didn’t call my name until after I had my daughter. When I had her, I was working full time in a family business. My husband and I decided it would be best for me to stay at home with her for at least the first few years. As any mom does, I took a million photos of my daughter. I wanted to capture every moment. Sadly though, I was really unimpressed with the images I was getting and forget that 2 second lag most point and shoots had back then. What a pain! So my husband surprised me (ok it wasn’t really a surprise since I dropped a ton of hints) with a DSLR for the holidays.

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12.26.2013

Rivers as Lines

Photography is all about abstraction. As you reduce three-dimensional scenes into two-dimensional photographs, your world flattens and becomes filled with geometric forms.

Along the Chena River small tributaries meander throughout the landscape. Photographing the S-curves of rivers such as this one produces pleasing, placid pictures. Chena River State Recreation Area, east of Fairbanks, Alaska, USA. Sigma SD1 Merrill. Sigma 50-150mm F2.8 EX DC HSM II lens at 103mm. F/11, 1/10 second, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2451EX Tripod with Gitzo GH2780QR head. Cable release. Processed in Sigma Photo Pro 5.3; Photoshop CS5; NIK Viveza and Sharpener Pro plug-ins applied. Photo copyright David FitzSimmons 2013. All rights reserved.

Along the Chena River small tributaries meander throughout the landscape. Photographing the S-curves of rivers such as this one produces pleasing, placid pictures. Chena River State Recreation Area, east of Fairbanks, Alaska, USA. Sigma SD1 Merrill. Sigma 50-150mm F2.8 EX DC HSM II lens at 103mm. F/11, 1/10 second, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2451EX Tripod with Gitzo GH2780QR head. Cable release. Processed in Sigma Photo Pro 5.3; Photoshop CS5; NIK Viveza and Sharpener Pro plug-ins applied. Photo copyright David FitzSimmons 2013. All rights reserved.

If you are not careful, this compressing of dimensions can result in images that seem depthless and uninteresting, but, if you manipulate perspective in ways that provide clear shapes and interesting contrasts, your images can create depth through a implied movement. In the case of photographing rivers, lines are the single most important geometric feature.

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12.23.2013

As an available light photographer, learning how to control the light that comes into my camera is the single most important element of what I do when creating imagery. I’ve spent a lot of time talking about how I set up my sessions and how I use available light, in this blog I thought I would talk about my camera settings and how I decide what settings I want to use to control light. My camera is always set to the manual mode and I’m always shooting in the RAW mode.

©2013 Judy Host | Lens: Sigma 17-70mm | Focal length: 70mm | Aperture: f/4.0 Shutter speed: 320  ISO 320 Manual mode

©2013 Judy Host | Lens: Sigma 17-70mm | Focal length: 70mm | Aperture: f/4.0 Shutter speed: 320 ISO 320 Manual mode

There are many different reasons to use certain settings on your camera.  I am referring mainly to the ISO, the shutter speed and aperture. As an available light photographer, controlling the light that comes into my camera is how I determine what my exposure will look like. First and foremost, everything depends on how much light I have available to me at the time of the session.  I start with setting my ISO knowing that I might need to adjust it. Once that has been established, the next step for me is to decide if I want to stop the action by using a higher shutter speed. Depending on the location, I may want my subject in focus while my background is soft. To create this narrow depth of field with my subject close to the camera, I use a wide open aperture. This can also create a “Bokeh Effect” especially when using a longer focal length lens. The bokeh is an eye catching soft circular pattern of light within the out of focus area of an image.

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12.23.2013

Whether unwrapped as a surprise under the Christmas tree, or purchased with gift cards to take advantage of the great seasonal pricing on all sorts of photo-related gear and gadgetry this time of year, it’s a known fact that many photographers will be finding themselves the proud owners of new lenses, cameras, bags and accessories right around now.  And whatever piece of new gear it is, it’s always important to check it out and run it through its paces before heading out to make a once-in-a-lifetime photo, to make sure you, the proud new owner, are both familiar with the gear, and ensure everything is working as it should.

This is the time of year for brand new gifts of photo gear!

This is the time of year for gifts of brand new photo gear!

In case you didn’t know, before joining Sigma, I tested all sorts of gear for several very popular photography magazines and websites (Here’s my backstory, if you’re interested). We’re talking benchmark testing of DSLRs and compacts, field tests of lenses, attempting to destroy overloaded camera bags and more. I’ve read more compact camera manuals cover to cover than I care to remember.  I’ve worked in Betas (and even Alphas) of experimental processing software. I’ve learned a lot of things along the way, and here’s some of my best advice for quickly getting to know your new camera gear.

Let’s Start with Lenses

Unboxing and checking AF

Unboxing a brand-new lens is quite a thrill. The new glass can offer a new way to see photographically, whether it’s a wider angle, a longer telephoto, or your first 1:1 macro lens, the acquisition of a new lens can lead to an explosion of visual creativity.

First, make sure all zoom and focus rings move smoothly. Check all switches for proper operation. Make sure the lens hood slides on easily and locks in place.

Check all switches and zoom/focus rings are operating correctly on your new lens.

Check all switches and zoom/focus rings are operating correctly on your new lens.

Mount it to you camera and ensure autofocus is engaged–both on-lens and on-camera–and test that autofocus operates in bright conditions with a high-contrast target/subject in single-shot mode and locks onto you subject, and that the resulting image is sharp and in-focus exactly where you’ve intended it to be.

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12.20.2013

Bosque del Apache is a National Wildlife refuge is a very popular nature photography hot spot in New Mexico. Photographers from all over the country and overseas gather there each winter to photograph thousands and thousands of wintering birds at the refuge.

2013 is my tenth year photographing and leading nature photography tours at Bosque. This year, thanks to support from Sigma Corporation of America, I was able to lead 5 nature photography workshops there.

From November through December each year Bosque is full of opportunities for bird photography. These are some of my favorites images made over the last couple of weeks.

Sandhill crane banking

Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 EX DG IF HSM APO and 1.4x DG EX APO Teleconverter @ 380mm, Nikon D800E, 1/2000th s at f/5.6, ISO 400, handheld. ©2013 Robert O'Toole

Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 EX DG IF HSM APO and 1.4x DG EX APO Teleconverter @ 380mm, Nikon D800E, 1/2000th s at f/5.6, ISO 400, handheld. ©2013 Robert O’Toole

This is one of my favorite images from my time in Bosque this year. This image is full frame with almost zero cropping, just a small strip was removed across the bottom edge. The 120-300mm F2.8 lens worked very well alone and in this case with the 1.4X Teleconverter. AF was fast and accurate and kept up with all of the birds without any issues.

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12.20.2013

’Tis the season to be jolly…and to have some fun with your holiday photography!

Nikon D800E. Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM lens. F/16, 1 second, ISO 1600. Gitzo GT2451EX Tripod with Gitzo GH2780QR head. Cable release. Processed in Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop CS5. Photo copyright David FitzSimmons 2013. All rights reserved.

Nikon D800E. Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM lens. F/16, 1 second, ISO 1600. Gitzo GT2451EX Tripod with Gitzo GH2780QR head. Cable release. Processed in Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop CS5. Photo copyright David FitzSimmons 2013. All rights reserved.

After a recent snow storm, I grabbed my camera and headed into my front yard to photograph our family’s outdoor Christmas tree. After taking a few standard shots of the snow covered tree, I decided to have a little fun. I thought, “Why not create a holiday theme and variation of our outdoor spectacle?”

My initial shot was taken from my Gitzo tripod with a cable release. I made sure not to burn the lights out, aiming to have some of the snow covered branches glisten in the red, yellow, blue, green, red, and pink glow of the LED bulbs.

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12.18.2013
© 2013 Roman M. Kurywczak | Sigma 70-200mm @ 128mm f/2.8 for 1/200 sec. and ISO 800

© 2013 Roman M. Kurywczak | Sigma 70-200mm @ 128mm f/2.8 for 1/200 sec. and ISO 800

I am a wildlife and nature photographer but I often like to step out of my comfort zone and photograph other subjects.  I feel this makes me a better photographer and allows me to see the things I photograph with fresh eyes.  I had the opportunity to attend one of Sigma’s events called the American Photo Model Shoot in NYC where I would also get to meet my fellow pros; Lindsay Adler, Kevin Ames, and Jennifer Rozenbaum.  Before I went to the event, I took a peek at their work so I could get a better idea for what was in store for me.  I have tried to photograph models before and I have had very little success getting great images and that both surprised and annoyed me!  After all, you know the models are beautiful so why was I having such difficulty?  I grabbed the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 and set off to see what I could come up with.  The image above was one of the first I took that day and what struck me about the model was the light on her hair and I wanted to showcase that. I continued to walk around the other set-ups and it became clear that I needed a better understanding of what went into making a successful model image.  I decided that I would carefully listened to Lindsay, Kevin, and Jennifer as they were giving instructions to the group and absorb as much as I could.

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12.16.2013

Sigma University Tour

I recently had the pleasure of being a guest speaker at 4 different west coast universities to interact with and educate their photography students. Along with Sigma, my goals were to inspire students to push their creative bounds and also to provide them valuable real-world lessons that they could use to grow their careers and ease their transitions into professional life.

© 2013 Lindsay Adler

© 2013 Lindsay Adler

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12.13.2013

The holiday season is upon us.  In Arlington, Texas the beginning of the holiday season is marked in the photography industry by an all-out public photographic event called the DFW Expo.  Held at the Arlington Convention Center, the event is coordinated and created by Bill Porter and Arlington Camera.

Marked by well-known photographic speakers, the event covers every aspect and specialty of photography including Landscape, Nature, Portraits, Studio, and Weddings.  If you are new to photography or a veteran, there was a workshop for everyone.  Sigma sponsored well-known wildlife photographer Robert O’Toole.

In addition to checking out a wildlife workshop by O’Toole, Sigma fans could also come by the 30-foot Sigma booth to try any lens in the wide range that Sigma offers.  In our booth we had a full studio setup with Westcott constant lights.  I was in the studio mentoring photographers on lighting technique and choosing a lens to best suit our beautiful model Hannah.

© 2013 Ryan Brown

© 2013 Ryan Brown

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