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12.06.2013

This week’s Fan Photo comes to us from Jay Graviano of Los Altos, California.

The Bay Bridge and San Francisco skyline as seen by Jay Graviano with the Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM lens.

The Bay Bridge and San Francisco skyline as seen by Jay Graviano with the Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM lens.

 

Tech specs:

  • Nikon D7000
  • 269 second exposure
  • ISO 100

I met a couple of new photographer friends at the boardwalk on Main Street in Sausalito, at 6 a.m., 1 hour before official sunrise time. I had never been to this location before, but as soon as I got there I knew my Sigma 70-200 telephoto would be perfect for the scene in front of me. I wanted to get all of the wood pilings, the main San Francisco cityscape, as well as at least 2 towers of the bay bridge into the frame, and at 70mm on a crop sensor this was perfect. After a few test exposures I noticed I was going to get shadows of the wood pilings which was an added bonus. At about 6:15 it was still dark, but the first light was starting to come in. I put the camera into manual mode, selected f/18 to get the longest exposure possible, hoping to achieve silky smooth water and as much cloud movement as possible. I was quite lucky to pull off a 4 and a half minute exposure here, as this boardwalk provides access to many residences behind us, and every 20 minutes or so someone would come stomping down the boardwalk, shaking the entire thing on their morning walk!

Jay Graviano is a hobbyist photographer based in Los Altos, California. Landscapes and cityscapes are currently his favorite things to shoot. Fan him on Facebook, and follow him on Flickr!

12.05.2013

The Sigma 24-105mm F4.0 DG OS HSM | Art lens has been generating a lot of excitement since its announcement just before PhotoPlus Expo 2013 in late October. And now, the lens is shipping in Canon mount, with other available mounts to begin shipping soon. I’ve already talked about the build and feel of the lens based on one of the pre-production samples we were displaying at the show, and you can read this companion blog posting for my first impressions.

Mint Martini seen through the Sigma 24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM | A on a classic 5D. 1/15 F5.6 ISO 100. Camera was on a tripod, with slow shutter speed to expose for background Christmas lights wrapped around the legs of a tall tripod. Very low-powered strobe with barndoors and grid was aimed at the rim of the glass. This is near the close-focusing distance and magnfication at 105mm.

Mint Martini seen through the Sigma 24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM | A on a classic 5D. 1/15 F5.6 ISO 100. Camera was on a tripod, with slow shutter speed to expose for background Christmas lights wrapped around the legs of a tall tripod. Very low-powered strobe with barndoors and grid was aimed at the rim of the glass. This is near the close-focusing distance and magnfication at 105mm.

Here we’re going to focus primarily on the photos this lens can create when paired with both a full-frame and APS-C DSLR. For photographers looking for a one-lens workhorse covering wide angle to short tele, with Optical Stabilizer, this lens is all kinds of amazing.

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11.28.2013

Bird_2

The PhotoPlus Expo, held annually at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City, is one of the biggest photo events in the country every year. Thousands of photographers, professional and aspiring, come to learn from fellow photographers, to shop around the biggest vendors and to immerse themselves in all things photography. I began attending this conference as  a teenager, and saw PhotoPlus as a photographic Disney world… entering a fun playground for photographers each and every year!

For PhotoPlus 2013, Sigma decided to focus on a “Sigma Safari” theme. Around their booth they would have images from fellow Sigma Pro Roman Kurywczak who had recently photographed an African wildlife safari and created some stunning images. Sigma asked me to help coordinate the models at the booth with a Safari theme, but also help take it to the next level with some of my portraiture imagery around that Safari theme.

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11.27.2013

For this year’s gift guide, we asked our Sigma Pros to recommend some of their favorite gear. This crew of amazingly talented and hard-working photographers each focuses on a different specialty and has their own individual style, and they’ve all got their favorite Sigma gear. Check out these great reasons why our pros choose to use Sigma lenses and cameras.

Kevin Ames’ Favorite: Sigma DP3 Merrill Compact Digital Camera

Sigma DP3 Merrill

Sigma DP3 Merrill

©2013 Kevin Ames

©2013 Kevin Ames

Sigma’s DP3 Merrill, the 46 megapixel true color fidelity professional medium format quality camera, is ideal for family photos, macro close ups, travel pictures or any situation where a “portrait” look fits. The 50mm f/2.8 lens is perfect for capturing photographs of people and their places then making huge blow ups. Best of all this pocket sized wonder fits easily in a purse or messenger bag. It’s always ready to make great photos. I keep my DP3 Merrill hand in the studio or on location to capture truly high resolution photographs like this one.  -Kevin Ames

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11.27.2013

Photographers have been raving about the world’s first constant aperture F1.8 zoom lens, the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM | Art lens since it was originally announced earlier this year, for both its groundbreaking constant maximum aperture, and its incredible prime-like performance, even wide open.  It rocked the charts on DXOMark, besting top-shelf primes at comparable focal lengths, has been recognized with a POP Award from PopPhoto.com, and a Gold award from DPReview, among other accolades.

The world's first F1.8 zoom lens for DSLRs.

The world’s first F1.8 zoom lens for DSLRs is also finding fans among videographers.

And as it turns out, it’s not just DSLR users who have discovered this incredible lens. Videographers–pros using both kitted-out HDSLRs  and dedicated Cinema cameras have been spellbound by all this glass offers for motion capture. For example, here is a short cinematic exploration with the 18-35mm F1.8 made by our friends at Sigma Benelux.

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11.26.2013

The quality medium format cameras no matter what the brand stand out as superior to most DSLR cameras. This is particularly true when super large prints—thirty by forty inches and large—are to be made. Color fidelity in medium format is superior too thanks to the larger size of the photo sites that produce the pixels. This quality comes at a price measured not only in dollars, euros or yen. It is a price paid in size and flexibility. Medium format cameras are much heavier than DSLRs. It’s reasonable to want to use a tripod when shooting one.

I have a Hasselblad thirty-nine megapixel medium format camera that makes really fine, high quality photographs. It’s big, heavy and pricy too. So imagine what happened when Sigma introduced the SD1 Merrill. DSLR size, lighter, less money and more megapixels—forty-six and true color fidelity. My medium format camera wasn’t getting much use. Wait. It gets better. Sigma took their forty-six megapixel APS-C sized sensor and put it in a point-and-shoot body complete with a 50mm f/2.8 lens and called it the DP3 Merrill. At slightly shorter than double that format’s normal focal length (28mm) it is the perfect portrait camera. Best of all it can go anywhere. [2799-001.jpg]

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The images from the DP3 Merrill are… well, stunning. These photographs were made at Photo Plus Expo in New York in October of 2013 in Sigma’s Safari Experience. I could shoot only between helping people attending the show make their own pictures of models made up as wild animals. The DP3 Merrill really delivered!

© 2013 Kevin Ames | Camera: DP3 Merrill | Shutter speed: 1/125 sec | Aperture: F10 | ISO: 100

© 2013 Kevin Ames | Camera: DP3 Merrill | Shutter speed: 1/125 sec | Aperture: F10 | ISO: 100

© 2013 Kevin Ames | Camera: DP3 Merrill | Shutter speed: 1/160 sec | Aperture: F7.1 | ISO: 100

© 2013 Kevin Ames | Camera: DP3 Merrill | Shutter speed: 1/160 sec | Aperture: F7.1 | ISO: 100

© 2013 Kevin Ames | Camera: DP3 Merrill | Shutter speed: 1/160 sec | Aperture: F11 | ISO: 100

© 2013 Kevin Ames | Camera: DP3 Merrill | Shutter speed: 1/160 sec | Aperture: F11 | ISO: 100

[2799-002.jpg, 2799-003.jpg, 2799-004.jpg]

There was one issue with all point-and-shoot cameras. I truly don’t like holding a camera at arm’s length to use the screen as a viewfinder. I want a viewfinder with an eyecup (and diopter correction so I don’t have to wear glasses) that makes hand holding it more stable. My first pass at giving my DP3 an eye friendly viewfinder was to use thin bungee cords to hold a Hood Loupe on the screen. Not too elegant looking; it was really useful. The permanent solution became the Nikon custom finder kit from hoodmanusa.com This beautifully made system attached to the camera’s tripod socket. It has it’s own socket for a quarter inch tripod screw or for a mounting plate like the one I use from Really Right Stuff. Best of all it feels great in my hand while my eye rests solidly on the included diopter equipped Hood Loupe. First issue solved!

Most regular readers of my Sigma Pros blog posts recognize that my happy place is the studio with lots of electronic flash light available. The DP3 Merrill does not have a flash socket, but with a Pocket Wizard Plus III mounted in the hot shoe my super tiny medium format quality portrait camera is ready for studio shooting. Yes, I hand hold it. [2799-005.JPG]

2799-005

Sigma has put a lot of thought into the three DP cameras. By far the DP3 is my personal favorite thanks to its portrait focal length lens. The other two are wonderful for landscapes (DP1 19mm f/2.8) and street shooting (DP2 30mm f/2.8.)

There’s a 90 second video of me with my Sigma pocket portrait camera on https://vimeo.com/77099102. Read more about Sigma’s DP Merrills on www.sigmaphoto.com.

This parting shot, of Amy Patterson was made during a testing at my Atlanta studio with the DP3 Merrill. [2799-006.jpg]

 

© 2013 Kevin Ames | Camera: DP3 Merrill | Shutter speed: 1/125 sec | Aperture: F16 | ISO: 100

© 2013 Kevin Ames | Camera: DP3 Merrill | Shutter speed: 1/125 sec | Aperture: F16 | ISO: 100

11.19.2013
©2013 Roman M. Kurywczak | Lens: Sigma 12-24mm | Focal length: 21mm | Aperture:  f/20 | Shutter speed: 1.0 sec | ISO 400 on tripod

©2013 Roman M. Kurywczak | Lens: Sigma 12-24mm | Focal length: 21mm | Aperture: f/20 | Shutter speed: 1.0 sec | ISO 400 on tripod

Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park have to be the premier nature photography location in the lower 48 states.  Subjects range from stunning and otherworldly landscapes to abundant free roaming wildlife.  The best time to visit the parks is either in early spring (June) or my favorite time of year in late September to early October as the leaves start to change.  The large summer crowds are gone and the park takes on a much slower pace, as it gets ready for the approaching winter.  The image above is of the Teton Range just off the outside road. This image is at first light and I used a Singh-Ray, 3 stop, reverse graduated neutral density filter to help balance the foreground with the much lighter sky and mountain range.

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11.14.2013

One of the most important rules for macro flash photography is balance. For natural looking macro images you have to balance the ambient light and flash output. When the flash and ambient light are balanced the use of flash will not even be apparent to the viewer.

The problem is that with flash output overpowering the natural light in background it will underexpose and go dark, in some cases like the image below, it can underexpose to the point that is appears black.

©2013 Robert O'Toole | Exposure: Manual mode | Shutter speed: 1/200th sec | Aperture:  f16 | ISO 200 | Flash @ 1/10 output level | Lens: Sigma 105mm f/2.8 OS macro lens

©2013 Robert O’Toole | Exposure: Manual mode | Shutter speed: 1/200th sec | Aperture: f16 | ISO 200 | Flash @ 1/10 output level | Lens: Sigma 105mm f/2.8 OS macro lens

Since the flower in the image above was actually surrounded by bright green foliage lit by the midday sun it is a great example of how not to shoot macro with flash. The problem is that the flash was so much stronger than the ambient light the correct exposure underexposes the background by at least 2-3 stops. In this case the exposure setting and flash output is correct for the subject but not the background. This kind of problem usually comes up when using auto flash mode combined with a small aperture like f/16.

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11.12.2013
©Judy Host 2013 | Lens: 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM | Aperture: F13.0 | Shutter Speed 1/125sec |  ISO 200 | Focal length 70mm | Exposure mode: Manual Hand Held | Processed in Photoshop with a soft focus filter to soften the skin.

©Judy Host 2013 | Lens: 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM | Aperture: F13.0 | Shutter Speed 1/125sec | ISO 200 | Focal length 70mm | Exposure mode: Manual Hand Held | Processed in Photoshop with a soft focus filter to soften the skin.

Recently, while I was in Salt Lake City I had a chance to work with Sigma’s 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM lens and my Canon 7D.  I was very lucky to have the opportunity to photograph a beautiful subject, Meagan and also have a studio to work in.  I was excited to discover how beautifully this lens functions in both studio lighting as well as natural light.  Zooming in and out was not only fast, but also stayed extremely sharp. The lens is very light making it easy to use without a tripod.  This is an important element for someone like me who likes to move around a lot when photographing.  Since most of my students are just getting started in photography, I try my hardest to demonstrate for them how important the right lens and lighting style is for creating portraits.  Of course it all depends on what your style is and what perspective you want to capture. That, in combination with the right camera settings, will help to create beautiful portraits.

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11.07.2013

Vivid Vizcaya

The exquisitely appointed Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is a photographer’s paradise. The former home of businessman James Deering, who made his fortune manufacturing agricultural machinery, is filled with architecture begging for megapixels of detail, super wide angle views, and impeccable HDR techniques.

Music room in the villa at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Miami, Florida, USA. Sigma SD1 camera and Sigma 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSM lens; Sigma CR-21 remote trigger. ISO 100; f/8; 5 images processed for 7 exposures (1 stop difference) using Sigma Photo Pro 5.1 and combined in Photomatix Exposure Fusion. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and GH2780QR ball head. Photo © 2013 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Music room in the villa at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Miami, Florida, USA. Sigma SD1 camera and Sigma 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSM lens; Sigma CR-21 remote trigger. ISO 100; f/8; 5 images processed for 7 exposures (1 stop difference) using Sigma Photo Pro 5.1 and combined in Photomatix Exposure Fusion. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and GH2780QR ball head. Photo © 2013 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

In 1916 Deering’s elegant mansion, designed in the Mediterranean Revival architectural style by Paul Chalfin, was completed after three years of construction. One of the most breath-taking rooms in the villa is the ornately decorated music room. Capturing the detail in an exquisite room like this requires the following:

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