The Blog: See what
Sigma is saying.

04.07.2014
©Judy Host 2014 | Lens: 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM | Aperture: F6.3 | Shutter speed:  1/250sec | ISO 250 | Focal length 200mm | Exposure mode:  manual mode

©Judy Host 2014 | Lens: 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM | Aperture: F6.3 | Shutter speed: 1/250sec | ISO 250 | Focal length 200mm | Exposure mode: manual mode

Learning to use manual settings in your camera will provide you with the ability to create the beautiful exposures you desire. The exposure in your camera is determined by several different settings. Exposure refers to the lightness or darkness of the image.  The settings are: 1) the aperture, the lens opening, which lets in light and controls the depth of field; 2) the shutter speed, the speed by which the lens lets in light, and 3) the ISO, which controls the camera’s sensitivity to light.  The right combination of these three settings will give you a nearly perfect exposure and give you the effect you want for your image.

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04.03.2014

Over the last weekend a huge swell focused giant waves on California triggering a high surf advisory and I had my Sigma 50-500mm to document some of the action. By the end of the weekend the awe inspiring power of this swell took its toll with lots of snapped surfboard leashes, broken surfboards and injured surfers (one had to be taken away by ambulance), my friend Jim broke his foot on Sunday dropping into a huge wave!

At my local beach in south Los Angeles the waves break close to shore so my Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM works very very well to document the action in the water here. Prime lenses are much harder to shoot with at beach breaks especially when the surf is large.

Professional surfer Alex Gray on the face of a wave setting up for a barrel ride, Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM @ 460mm, Nikon  D4, manual mode, 1/1250th s at f/8, ISO 1250, Auto-ISO, +0.7 EV, handheld.

Professional surfer Alex Gray on the face of a wave setting up for a barrel ride, Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM @ 460mm, Nikon D4, manual mode, 1/1250th s at f/8, ISO 1250, Auto-ISO, +0.7 EV, handheld.

Alex Gray is an LA local and one of the leading barrel and big wave riders in the world so it was really nice to see him charge the biggest waves over the weekend.

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04.01.2014
© 2014 Roman Kurywczak | Lens: Sigma 150mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO macro | Aperture:  f/22 | Shutter speed: 1/160 sec | ISO 800 hand held with Canon MT 24EX twin flash at -2.  Led video light and silver reflector.

© 2014 Roman Kurywczak | Lens: Sigma 150mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO macro | Aperture: f/22 | Shutter speed: 1/160 sec | ISO 800 hand held with Canon MT 24EX twin flash at -2. Led video light and silver reflector.

In my last post, I left you with an image of a flower from my own garden that I was desperately trying to photograph against the beautiful spring sky.  I was lying on the ground trying for a good angle when Darrell Gulin’s lesson came to mind.  Why struggle out in the field?  He often photographs butterflies in his own kitchen and uses printed natural looking backgrounds behind his subjects.  Why was I crawling in the grass, struggling to get a good angle?  It was my flower so I simply clipped it and brought it inside.  I went back outside and took a picture of the beautiful sky.  Back inside, I printed it on some cheap 13×19 matte paper, mounted it on some stiff backboard, placed it behind the bloom, and voila! The image at top is very similar as I used a printed natural green background, but done outdoors.  My question to you is; could you tell that it was a printed background?  It was an actual “real sky” (in the last post) and some “real” foliage, in this image. Does it really matter? How is that different than the manipulation in the field with the bark or the snow? That is a choice for you to ultimately make but now, I could easily have any background I wanted behind the subject and the sky literally was the limit!  Below is my low-tech indoor setup that I can use, any day of the year, and have any background I want even if there is a foot of snow outside! Just remember to close the window too.

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04.01.2014

Sigma Corporation of America has teamed up with Kupo Grip and The Phoblographer as sponsors of a giveaway that will be sure to make the winning videographer beam with joy.

 

Sigma Corporation of America, Kupo Grip and The Phoblographer are sponsors of this great giveaway!

Sigma Corporation of America, Kupo Grip and The Phoblographer are sponsors of this great giveaway!

Sigma is supplying the 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 ultrawide zoom lens and 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM standard zoom lens to pair with Kupo Grip stands, a Black Magic Cinema Camera, and more in a prize package valued at over $12,000.

Click the jump to see how to enter right here on the Sigma blog!

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03.28.2014

The Sigma 180mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro lens is the biggest, longest macro lens in the Sigma lens catalog. This telephoto lens offers true life-sized reproduction with a 1:1 maximum magnification ratio. Incredible sharpness—thanks to its state of the art optical design—Optical Stabilizer, and a three-zone focus limiter make this a serious lens for advanced macro photographers.

The Sigma 180mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro lens.

The Sigma 180mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro lens.

This is a lens with serious presence. At 3.7 x 8.0 inches and 57.8 ounces, it’s a touch bigger and heavier than the 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM lens. 19 elements in 14 groups, including three FLD elements, ensure incredible real-world image sharpness as demonstrated in the MTF chart.

The Sigma 180mm F2.8 lens can capture detail at 1:1 magnification at its closest focus distance of 18.5 inches from the focal plane. At this focal length and close-focusing distance, depth of field is incredibly shallow, even when stopped down. This image of a US 25 cent piece featuring Mississippi on the reverse was captured at F/11. A studio strobe with a shoot-through umbrella lit the scene, captured at 1/200 F/11 ISO 100 on a Rebel T3i (288mm effective focal distance on this APS-C camera.)

The Sigma 180mm F2.8 lens can capture detail at 1:1 magnification at its closest focus distance of 18.5 inches from the focal plane. At this focal length and close-focusing distance, depth of field is incredibly shallow, even when stopped down. This image of a US 25 cent piece featuring Mississippi on the reverse was captured at F/11. A studio strobe with a shoot-through umbrella lit the scene, captured at 1/200 F/11 ISO 100 on a Rebel T3i (288mm effective focal distance on this APS-C camera.)

The MTF Chart for the Sigma 180mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro lens illustrates its exceptional sharpness.

The MTF Chart for the Sigma 180mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro lens illustrates its exceptional sharpness.

This is a lens for experienced macro photographers who want a longer focal length and greater working distance for specialized applications. And while it is a big and weighty lens, internal focusing and Optical Stabilizer mean, respectively, that the lens barrel remains the same length at all focal distances, and that it can be used in the field without a tripod at slower shutter speeds, both of which are really nice touches.

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03.28.2014

In “The High Concept Image,” a recent feature in Outdoor Photographer, nature photographer Ian Plant intelligently challenges photographers to capture creative, thoughtful images that move beyond “snapshots,” rising to the level of “art.”

An example of a high concept image, this depiction of McClures Beach at Point Reyes National Seashore rises above the literal, conveying ethereal mood through a dream-like representation of sunset. Nikon D2X. Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM lens. f/16, .5 second. ISO 100. Sigma Circular DG Polarizer Filter. Gitzo GT2451EX tripod with Gitzo ball head. Photo © David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

An example of a high concept image, this depiction of McClures Beach at Point Reyes National Seashore rises above the literal, conveying ethereal mood through a dream-like representation of sunset. Nikon D2X. Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM lens. f/16, .5 second. ISO 100. Sigma Circular DG Polarizer Filter. Gitzo GT2451EX tripod with Gitzo ball head. Photo © David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Ian’s description of the high concept image is in contradistinction to the “low-concept image,” which he points out is generally more “documentary” or “literal” in nature. Seeing nothing wrong with such grab shots, he does, however, push photographers to look for new ways to depict the world. He invokes legendary photographer Minor White, who once said “One should photograph objects not only for what the are but for what else they are.”

In his thought-provoking “how-to” piece, Ian offers six techniques to create high concept images:

  1. Don’t just record your subject; instead, capture a theme, concept or story.
  2. Move your feet and seek novel compositions and juxtapositions.
  3. Don’t just chase “magic hour” light; chase expressive light.
  4. Use weather and color to create mood.
  5. Wait for the decisive moment.
  6. Go with the flow with long exposures.

This got me to thinking about my own photography. Below I offer my the first of my two-part commentary—perhaps you could call it an addendum–to Ian’s great lead. If you have read my columns in the past, you may see one or two photos I have utilized previously; here, however, I will explore my images with respect to the tenets of “high concept” photography.

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03.26.2014

Our job as portrait photographers is often to flatter our subjects and help them look their best. There are so many elements that can go into this equation; lighting, posing, expression, focal length, camera angle and more. There is a lot to consider, so sometimes it is useful to train our eyes to see certain undesirable visual elements so we can weed them out.

I have both a creative and analytical mind. I do not like absolutes. I do no like rules. I do, however, appreciate guidelines that help give us photographers a better understanding of how to use our art to communicate. I’d have to side with Pablo Picasso on this one; “’Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.’”

When posing a closeup of a subject, sometimes adding hands into the image can add visual interest. The hands can show confidence, elegance, or simply add compositional interest. When I started my career as a photographer, I found posing hands exceedingly difficult. They were often either distracting, or too dominant in the frame, or simply looks awkward.

I’d like to take this article to provide you a few ‘dos and don’ts’ to consider as you pose hands. Yes, rules are meant to be broken, but watch for these few distracting elements as you begin to pose your subjects. Eventually it will become second nature and you will know exactly how to pose hands! When you learn the rules, then you also can learn how to break them!

Unless otherwise indicated, all the images in this article were shot with the Sigma 24-105mm 4.0 lens.

I. Don’t: Apply pressure or push hand hard against the face. Do: Rest fingers gently on the face.

 © 2014 Lindsay Adler

It looks unnatural and unflattering to have fingers smushed against your subject’s face. Even here where the pressure appears gentle, it often moves the skin and does not look elegant. If too much pressure is being applied, I ask my subject to wiggle their fingers and then place their fingers gently back on their face. This usually does the trick!

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03.24.2014
© Judy Host 2013 | Lens: APO 70-200mm F2.8mm EX DG OS HSM | Aperture: F 7.1 | Shutter speed: 1/200sec |  ISO 800 | Exposure mode: Manual mode | Focal length: 157mm

© Judy Host 2013 | Lens: APO 70-200mm F2.8mm EX DG OS HSM | Aperture: F 7.1 | Shutter speed: 1/200sec | ISO 800 | Exposure mode: Manual mode | Focal length: 157mm

There are many challenges to photographing in natural light. Because I photograph children, I don’t always have a choice in what time of day we can photograph. Most of the time it is in the  middle of the day, the most difficult time of day to photograph. When that happens there are a few techniques that can help to make this actually work pretty well.

Pockets of Light

With the APO 70-200mm F2.8mm EX DG OS HSM I set off to create some nice portraits in the middle of summer in Nashville in the heat of the day.  The session was about photographing the three boys together and then separately.  My location was the home of the family and the park that surrounded it.  In this first image, I found these two wonderful bridges that created what I refer to as a “pocket of light”. This pocket of light was located in between the two bridges giving me a section of sunlight to work with.  I positioned the boys with their backs to the light using the sunlight on the cement as a natural reflector to light up those gorgeous faces.  My settings were used to create the depth of field that I needed to get all three boys in focus. I then adjusted the shutter speed and ISO to get the best exposure.  With that much light bouncing in their faces from the cement, I wasn’t concerned with getting enough light or detail in their faces.

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03.05.2014
© 2014 Roman Kurywczak | Lens: Sigma 180mm f/3.5 EX DG HSM APO macro lens | Aperture: f/22 | Shutter speed: 1/300 sec | ISO 640 hand held with Canon MT 24EX twin flash at -1

© 2014 Roman Kurywczak | Lens: Sigma 180mm f/3.5 EX DG HSM APO macro lens | Aperture: f/22 | Shutter speed: 1/300 sec | ISO 640 hand held with Canon MT 24EX twin flash at -1

Unlike other genres of photography, macro photography allows you the most control.  I find that backgrounds are just as critical to the success of a macro image as the subject itself.  My first tip on getting closer was for circumstances where you couldn’t control the background.  My second tip is to show you that in most cases, you can control the background and it is relatively easy!  The butterfly image above was taken in Butterfly World in Coconut Creek Florida. There are thousands of live butterflies in the aviary with a great variety but many times the backgrounds are less than appealing.  What to do in that situation? I will walk though the aviary looking for a location with a nice background and ignore almost everything else going on!  Once I find a bloom that is isolated from the background I will patiently wait for a butterfly to land on it and fire away.  Using this technique in the field will always make for stronger compositions, as cluttered background will often distract from the beauty of the main subject.

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03.03.2014

What is a zoom lens?

A zoom lens is a type of camera lens that is offers the photographer a useful range of different focal lengths in a single lens. This is in comparison to a prime lens, which only offers a single focal length. A zoom lens allows for quick and easy re-framing of a scene while staying in the same physical position. Sigma offers a line of over 20 zoom lenses for DSLR photographers, ranging from wide angle zoom lenses, supertelephoto zoom lenses, and high-zoom ratio all-in-one lenses for both full-frame (DG) and APS-C (DC) digital cameras.

Sigma offers a great variety of zoom lenses. (Lenses are not shown to scale in this display.)

Sigma offers a great variety of zoom lenses. (Lenses are not shown to scale in this display.)

Which Sigma zoom lenses are right for you depends on your photographic intentions, budgets, and overall size constraints. In this article, we are going to explore many facets of zoom lenses for digital photography and explain the terminology, key features and benefits of the different types of zoom lens. We’re also going to showcase images made with a variety of Sigma zoom lenses to illustrate key concepts.

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